Bibi Lalouette


James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Bibi Lalouette, 1859, drypoint and etching, printed in dark brown ink on old laid paper with a Bouchet watermark. [Signed and dated in the plate; at this stage Whistler was not signing prints in pencil] References: Glasgow 33, second state (of 2; see discussion below), Kennedy 51, second state (of 2). In very good condition, with small margins, 8 7/8 x 6, the sheet 9 1/4 x 6 1/4 inches.

A fine early impression, with burr from the drypoint work quite visible especially in the boy’s hair (only visible in the early impressions).  In the early impressions of this state a scratch is visible on the sleeve of the child; in the later impressions it is removed. It is visible in this impression. Also in later impressions of this state a scratch appeared on the blouse of the child (which some have considered a cancellation mark), which was also then removed; in this early impression this scratch has yet to appear.

Provenance: Kennedy Galleries, New York, with their stock number (a81516) verso.

Also on the verso in graphite the following words are written: London Office Collection and the initials WX (neither found in Lugt)

In the first state of this print there were two heads (upside-down) at the bottom of the plate, made when Whistler was formulating the composition. These were removed in the second state, but they (one in particular) are still visible in this impression. Also in the second state light horizontal lines to the left and right of the child were added.

Bibi’s father owned a pension where Whistler, Henri Fantin-Latour and Alphonse Legros (who called themselves the Societe des Trois) often ate during their student days. In this delightful portrait Whistler features the boy’s curly hair (reminiscent of his own).