James McNeill Whistler 1834-1903
- James McNeill Whistler
- Reclining Lady
- signed J. Whistler and dated 1856, l.r.
ink and pencil on paper
By descent in the family
Acquired by the present owner from the above
Margaret MacDonald, in a letter dated 1993, writes: "[Theophile] Thore was an influential writer and critic, a friend of Courbet and an ardent exponent of Realism in his articles and his Salon Reviews. For his part in the 1848 Revolution, Thore was condemned to death and fled to Brussels where he lived until after the amnesty of 1859. In 1867 Thore contacted Whistler through Edouard Manet, and offered to buy the painting At the Piano (Taft Museum), but it was in the hands of Seymour Haden.
"Reclining Lady was probably given to Thore at some time between 1859 and 1867, in recognition of Thore's praise of Whistler and his desire to acquire some of his works.
"As one of the only two extant drawings dated 1856, it is important in establishing the evolution of Whistler's style and technique. The pen lines are fine, with outlines modified and softened by delicately repeated lines, the shape of the dress and cushions by bold scribbles.
"His model, in a tight waisted dress, is lying on a sofa, turning away from the artist, with her right hand raised to her head and the other trailing down. Pentimenti make it difficult to tell if her trailing hand is clenched or if she is holding something, perhaps a cigarette. The pose, though intimate, with a bohemian abandonment of formality, is certainly not relaxed: it might suggest weariness.
"The costume is similar to that of the young woman in one of Whistler's earliest etchings Au Sixième. The model for both may be Whistler's passionate 'grisette', the 'modiste' Eloïse, known as 'Fumette.'"