Sketch After Cecil Lawson’s “Swan and Iris”

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James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903),¬†Sketch After Cecil Lawson’s “Swan and Iris,” etching and drypoint, 1882. Reference: Glasgow 247, Kennedy 241. Glasgow’s 5th state (of 6). In very good condition, with the sewing holes at the right, printed on an antique laid paper with a Strasbourg Lily watermark. 5 1/4 x 3 1/4, the sheet 7 x 4 1/2 inches.

A very fine impression of this relatively rarely encountered sketch, printed in a grey/black ink with substantial burr from the drypoint work, and with a layering of plate tone.

Cecil Lawson (1851-1882) was a painter, the husband of an elder sister of Whistler’s eventual wife Beatrice. The etching is after an unfinished Lawson painting; it was used in the memoir of Lawson published by the Fine Art Society, in 1883.

This is fifth state (of 6), before the several diagonal lines and one short, almost horizontal line are added to the lower edge of the dark shading on the left side of the arch, and extend into the bevel on that edge. This impression is particularly fine insofar as the upper left arch, and the sails of the boats at the top, are darkened with a fine layer of plate tone, accentuating the burr of the drypoint.

This is not signed in the plate, although the iris itself is reminiscent of a variation of Whistler’s butterfly.