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Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903

The Music Room

Etching, about 1858
Gift of John Hogan, 1982.144

Whistler’s health had suffered during a trip to Northern Europe early in 1858. He returned to London and convalesced under the care of his stepsister Deborah and her husband, a physician, Seymour Haden. Haden was also an etcher and during this time he and Whistler worked side-by-side on their respective drawings and plates, sharing subjects and compositions. It was a very productive time for both artists.
This scene includes images of Haden, Deborah, and Haden’s medical partner, James Reeves Traer. Whistler was hoping to use this composition for a painting that he intended to submit to the Paris Salon in 1859. While he never completed the painting, Whistler did utilize the Haden’s music room for his painting At the Piano, now in the collection of the Taft Museum of Art in Cincinnati.