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“Whistler with the White Lock” is an intaglio; an etching and drypoint, done between 1876 and 1879. The platemark and paper measure 4-11/16 x 3-1/8″. This impression is unsigned, as is usual. It was first published and printed in 1879 by the artist and the Fine Art Society in the Cancelled Plates set, in an edition of around 18. This impression is printed on a sheet of cream laid paper that is trimmed to the platemark and has a “tab” at the bottom, which is not signed. According to the Glasgow raisonné, “… in 1889, the copper plate was acquired by H. Wunderlich & Co., New York and printed again in an edition of sixteen, of which seven have been identified. It was printed very carefully and impressions appear stronger than earlier impressions, partly because some of them are on colored papers”. After this printing, the plate was canceled using deep widely spaced crossed lines. References for this intaglio include: Glasgow 162, i/i; Kennedy 172; Mansfield 169; Wedmore 142.
This is the first image depicting Whistler with the white lock of hair that became one of his trademarks. The first printing was lightly printed, as this is, and was published as a set in the “Cancelled Plates” in 1879 by The Fine Art Society, London, despite being not canceled, just unfinished. This impression was trimmed to the platemark and a tab was left in the lower left to add a butterfly but was not signed. A photo of the print with the tab is available here.
The plates for the Cancelled Plates set were purchased and printed again in 1889 by H. Wunderlich, New York in an edition of 16. These impressions were more carefully inked and are stronger despite being the same state.
The Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow notes: “This is one of several self-portraits, including ‘Portrait of Whistler’ 005, ‘Whistler with a hat’ 044 and ‘Head of Whistler’ 318. The white lock is conspicuous in photographs such as those reproduced here. It was a genetic trait, Waardenburg syndrome, shared with his sister Deborah Delano Haden (1825-1908)…”