Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris – Early State, and Definitive State
James A.M. Whistler (1834-1903), The Rag Gatherers (Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris); etching, 1858. 6 3 1/2 inches, in very good condition.
Kennedy 23 third state (of five) – this impression mentioned; Glasgow third state (of 5) – this impression mentioned.
signed in pencil at lower left corner of the sheet Whistler [also signed, with the reverse s, in the plate]
Printed in dark brownish/black on a cream laid paper; watermark: letters LVG pendant to a coat of arms (probably with Strasbourg lily)
Kennedy Galleries, New York (their stock no. in pencil on verso a37141)
Howard Mansfield, New York (Lugt 1342)
Harris G. Whittemore, Naugatuck, Connecticut (Lugt 1384a)
Together with an impression of Kennedy’s fifth (and final) state (see illustration below); Watermark: Three balls with peak of a foolscap (?)
In the first four states of Rag Pickers only shading and detailed changes are made to the print; in the fifth state a radical change is introduced: two figures are added, a girl sitting up in bed and a boy standing near her. Lochnan suggested that Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris was etched on Whistler’s return from the Rhineland in 1858, that is, after 7 October, and that the figures were added when Ralph Thomas Sr. (1803-1862), was encouraging Whistler to print his etchings in preparation for his first show of etchings in London (cf Glasgow). Most impressions known are of the final state; impressions of the third or earlier states are relatively rare. The final state was probably printed in 1861, although many impressions of the final state may be later.
This was etched in Paris, in the Mouffetard district of the Latin Quarter. The composition is of course related to his other doorway or interior etchings such as La Vielle aux Loques, La Marchande de Moutarde, and The Kitchen, and, as Lochnan has pointed out, relates to a tradition in Dutch art of compositions framed by doorways, and later paintings by Francois Bonvin (1817-1887), Charles Jacque (1813-1894), and Jean Baptiste Millet (1831-1906).