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Prints and Authors in the Time of Manet

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903


Etching, 1858
Gift of David Keppel in memory of his father, Frederick Keppel, 1914.126

Published in late of 1858 as part of Whistler’s “French Set,” this early portrait of a young seamstress is, in part, Whistler’s reaction to the writings of the French author/critic Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867). Baudelaire strongly disliked the idealized academic painting styles popular in 18th- and 19th-century France. Instead, he encouraged young artists to work from nature, using the life about them as inspiration. In keeping with Baudelaire’s advice, Whistler’s art from this period often depicted Parisian street life.