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Between and Mortarboard

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Café Corazza, Paris

Accession Number

Café Corazza, Paris

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
circa 1892-1893

Medium & Support
etching, printed in black ink on laid Japan tissue, trimmed to platemark

5 3/16 in x 8 11/16 in (13.18 cm x 22.07 cm);5 3/16 in x 8 11/16 in (13.18 cm x 22.07 cm);14 1/4 in x 19 5/16 in (36.2 cm x 49.05 cm)

Credit Line
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker

Label copy
Café Corazza, Palais Royal
circa 1892–93
Only state (Kennedy 436)
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker, 1954/1.409
Whistler’s long-standing interest in focusing only on the essentials of a motif, which he described as the secret of drawing, is in evidence here. In Café Corazza he evokes a whole through an understated partial representation, creating a delightful and abstract play of pattern out of the building facade. This noted café in the Palais Royal in Paris is rendered by the merest description of its doorway and flanking windows. The image is divided into three parts by the trunks of the trees that are closest to the viewer, almost like a Japanese folding screen. The bottom of the plate is untouched, lending the image a floating character that also recalls Japanese art.

Subject matter
Whistler focused on lithography over etching during the 1890s, making his etched views of Paris, that were never printed in editions, quite rare.
Here, Whistler draws a partial representation of a cafe at the Palais Royal. The details of the building and the sense of recession into space are essentially cancelled by the slender trees that obscure the view. As if directly evoking the "Floating World" of Japanese prints, the elements are not drawn to the ground level, leaving them detached and unanchored within the composition. A further reference to Asian art is the way the trunks divide the scene, much like a folding screen.

Physical Description
Three arched openings (windows flanking a central door) are obscured by the trunks and foliage of two slender trees positioned in front of the building. Neither the tree trunks nor the building facade are drawn completely down to the ground.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
intaglio print

Collection Area

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