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Between and Mortarboard

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The Kitchen, One of the 'Twelve Etchings from Nature,' or the 'French Set'

Accession Number

The Kitchen, One of the 'Twelve Etchings from Nature,' or the 'French Set'

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
etching, printed in black ink on Japan paper, laid down on white wove plate paper

11 1/4 in. x 8 1/16 in. ( 28.5 cm x 20.4 cm )

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy
The Kitchen, from the French Set, or Twelve Etchings from Nature
Etching on Japan paper
Second state of three (Kennedy 24)
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1954/1.330
This depiction of a woman standing before a kitchen window—which was one of the most popular in the set—is based on a watercolor executed at Lutzelbourg in Alsace during the summer excursion with Delannoy. The solitary figure silhouetted at the end of a deeply recessed space and framed by doorways is a recurring motif in Whistler’s prints; in the French Set it is also found in La Marchande
de Moutarde and La Vieille aux Loques. The alternation of lighter and darker passages in the interior is a means of suggesting spatial recession that Whistler will perfect in The Lime-burner from the Thames Set.

Subject matter
Based on a watercolor, this etching employs sharp juxtapositions of light and dark to create a sense of mystery; this dramatic use of light recalls Dutch 17th century prints, which were very popular at the time and which Whistler admired. "The Kitchen" became one of the most popular and sought after plates from the "French Set."

Physical Description
A dark interior view is shown with a deep recessed space. At the end of the space is a window; the recessed space is full of reflected light and a woman is seen framed against the bright view out the window. Closer to the viewer, the foreground is filled with domestic objects: furniture on the left with vases stored on top; a wall rack with plates stored on the right and other objects with basins or pots below the plates.

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interior perspectives
interior views

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