Etching with chine collé
Plate: 20.8 x 14.8 cm (8 3/16 x 5 13/16 in.); Sheet: 27.3 x 20.8 cm (10 3/4 x 8 3/16 in.)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph King 1922.438
Catalogue raisonné: Kennedy 21; Glasgow 27
Whistler's first set of prints, the so-called French Set, included domestic and genre scenes, studies of friends and their children, and glimpses of shadowy figures in backstreets, alleyways, and anonymous interiors. His choice of subject and treatment reflected the American ex-patriot's awareness of modern realist trends in French art. This print, made after Whistler's return to Paris from the Rhine, describes an old woman silhouetted in a doorway, thrown into relief by a shadowed interior. Bent with fatigue, she sits among bundles of scavenged rags, gathered by the poor and sold to papermakers. The image resonates with the painful combination of aging and urban poverty.
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