The Duet




James Whistler (1834-1903), The Duet, lithograph, 1894, signed in pencil with the butterfly lower left margin (also signed in the plate upper left). Reference: Spink 104, Way 64, Levy 95, only state; 39 lifetime impressions printed. In very good condition (slight rippling right), printed on cream laid paper, with full margins, 246 x 165 mm, 9 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches, the sheet 280 x 196 mm, 11 x 7 7/8 inches.


Rosalind Birnie Philip (her stamp verso, Lugt 406).

Birnie Philip, Whistler’s sister-in-law and executrix, used two stamps on the lithographs in her collection. Lugt 406, representing the initials RBP in a square, was meant to indicate a lifetime impression (L 405, circle shaped, indicated a posthumous impression).

The Duet shows Beatrix Whistler and her sister Ethel at the piano in the Whistler’s Paris home. It is based on a rather sketchy drawing of the same subject made a few weeks earlier (Spink 96). The Duet, a much richer version of the earlier attempt, is one of Whistler’s most successful efforts in lithography.