La Rétameuse, One of the 'Twelve Etchings from Nature,' or the 'French Set'

Accession Number

La Rétameuse, 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 laid plate paper

12 13/16 in x 9 13/16 in (32.54 cm x 24.92 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy
La Rétameuse, from the French Set, or Twelve Etchings from Nature
Etching on Japan paper
Second state of two (Kennedy 14)
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1954/1.321
This unidealized portrait of a tinsmith, with her stolid form and unsentimental demeanor, is typical of the subjects of working women from the lowest levels of society that were popular among realist artists in France. It is from a group of plates of Parisians that Whistler executed prior to the Rhine journey with Delannoy. The careful depiction of the woman’s features, the fluid description of her dress, and the energetic massing of lines used to convey cast shadows recalls Rembrandt’s portrait etchings, much admired by Whistler.

Subject matter
Among the recurring subjects of Whistler's prints are images of working people, including this female tin-smith. Among the influences current in Paris when Whistler was there as a student was realism's concern with images of labor. Although the woman is not seen actively working in her craft, she is clearly a working class woman.

Physical Description
A woman is seated with her hands in her lap looking directly at the viewer. She wears a pronounced hat on her head with long ribbons that hang to her waist.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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women (female humans)
working class

& Author Notes

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