Becquet – Definitive State
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Becquet, 1859, etching, printed in dark brown on ivory wove paper. Signed in pencil with the butterfly lower margin, and signed with the butterfly and inscribed by the artist “Very fine proof” and with the tiny circle device (the artist’s marking of a fine proof) verso. In very good condition, remains of prior hinging verso. References: Glasgow 62, sixth state (of 6), Kennedy 52, fourth state (of four); Lochnan 55, included in the Thames Set, 10 x 7 5/8, the sheet 11 3/4 x 9 1/4 inches.
Howard Mansfield (Lugt 1342, two stamps verso)
Harris Whitmore (Lugt 1384a, stamp verso)
E.R. Martin, New York (pencil initials verso, not in Lugt)
Charles C. Cunningham, Jr., Boston (not in Lugt, stamp verso)
R.M. Light and Co., Boston
acquired: Carolyn Crossett Rowland, from above, 1980
Kennedy Galleries (with their stock number verso, a27047)
A very fine, rich impression; given its exceptional quality probably printed apart from the Thames Edition.
Another impression in this state signed and with the artist’s inscription as here is in the Freer Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the signature on the Freer impression is estimated by Glasgow to be of 1890.
Whistler titled the plate The Fiddler when he published it as part of the Thames Set in 1871. It is one of the two non-Thames subjects included in the set (the other is The Forge, Kennedy 68). The print shows the French sculptor and musician Just Becquet (1829–1907), a friend of the artist who, according to Joseph Pennell’s Whistler Journal, lived in his studio among “disorder and his cello” (quoted after Lochnan, p. 104).
The plate on which the portrait was drawn had previously been used for an oblong view of West Point which a friend of Whistler brought to him for his opinion; stacked muskets and other paraphernalia can still be seen toward the lower edge of this print.