La Marchande de Moutarde, one of the "Twelve Etchings from Nature," or the "French Set"

Accession Number

La Marchande de Moutarde, 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

12 11/16 in x 9 3/4 in (32.23 cm x 24.77 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy
La Marchande de Moutarde, from the French Set, or Twelve Etchings from Nature
Etching on Japan paper
Second state of five (Kennedy 22)
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1954/1.329
La Marchande de Moutarde takes a very different approach to framing a view through a doorway than The Kitchen. Instead of creating deep pictorial space through the manipulation of light and dark areas, the objective is a more decorative effect. Whistler’s nervous line work, which defines the framing post and lintel as well as the surrounding areas, tends to flatten the image with its overall patterning; the positioning of the girl in the doorway and the mustard seller in the interior are the principal means by which the artist conveys a sense of depth. This print was one of two etchings by Whistler accepted for exhibition at the Paris Salon in 1859, the same year two paintings he submitted that were refused, and thus may be considered the twenty-four-year-old artist’s first introduction to the public.

Subject matter
La Marchande de Moutarde is an early example of Whistler's interest in showing views through the frames of doorways. Here the sense of depth from the threshold to the woman inside the room is minimized (especially compared with "The Kitchen") in favor of intense patterning of all the surfaces--an approach that tends to flatten space. The composition is based on two drawings executed in Cologne, Germany during the walking tour Whistler took w/ Delannoy.

Physical Description
A young woman at the left stands at the threshold of a stone doorway; in the interior beyond her, a woman in a white cap is preparing a jar at a desk or counter. Above the desk is a row of jars on a shelf.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

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interior spaces (spaces by location)
interior views
vessels (containers)
women (female humans)

1 Related Resource

(Part of 9 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

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