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Storytelling in Miniature

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903

The Little Wheelwright’s

Etching, 1884
2 5/8 x 3 7/8 in.
Museum purchase, 1914.75

Whistler made The Little Wheelwright’s while on a trip to Holland. Three cottages, one with a cart wheel resting against it, face onto a canal, which occupies the foreground. Whistler had first attempted to visit Holland in 1858, but ran out of money before he could make it out of Belgium. He managed his first trip there in 1863 when his work was exhibited in a show of Living Masters held at the Hague School of Art in Amsterdam. Whistler’s prints were well received and he was awarded a gold medal. His trips to Holland were always, in part, to acquire fine old Dutch paper. He preferred old Dutch paper to all others for his prints as it took ink well and added texture and color to his etchings.