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Storytelling in Miniature

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903

The Tiny Pool

Etching with drypoint, about 1861
3 7/8 x 2 5/8 in.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. McKelvy, Jr., 1976.155

Whistler was born on July 10, 1834 in Lowell, Massachusetts. Later in life he claimed St. Petersburg, Russia—where he lived for several years as a child—as his birth place, disliking the ‘common’ city of Lowell. This disassociation from Lowell reveals much about Whistler’s personality and temperament. His entire life was an involved mixture of art, entertainment, sharp wit, impetuous temper, dandyism, egoism and self-doubt, calculation, and genius.

Whistler all but abandoned etching for seven years shortly after this print was produced. Evidence suggests that his loss of interest may have been due to professional rivalry with his brother-in-law Francis Seymour Haden, who had received widespread praise for his etchings.