MOTHER AND DAUGHTER [LA MÈRE MALADE]

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER [LA MÈRE MALADE]
Lithograph
1897

An original James Abbott McNeill Whistler Lithograph print.

1897

Original lithograph printed in black ink on China paper.

Signed on the stone with the artist’s butterfly monogram upper right.

A superb impression of Spink’s only state From the edition of approximately 200 commissioned by Ambroise Vollard, and printed by Auguste Clot, Paris

Catalog: Spink 174; Levy 77

7 3/8 x 6 inches

Sheet Size: 11 15/16 x 9 inches

“Mother and Daughter” depicts Whistler’s mother-in-law Frances Birnie Philip, and one of his sisters-in-law, probably Ethel Whibley, posing together in the drawing room of the house on the rue du Bac in Paris, similar to “Afternoon Tea,” another lithograph from the same period. The women wear the same attire in both images, suggesting that Whistler made the two drawings at about the same time, perhaps on the same day. Both double portraits can be dated to the fall of 1897, when the dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard visited Whistler and selected “Afternoon Tea” for inclusion in his second album of original prints. It has been suggested that at the end of that visit, Vollard carried away with him not one but two lithographs, “Afternoon Tea” and “Mother and Daughter.” Auguste Clot, a former Lemercier employee who opened his own lithographic printing business in about 1896, was the printer for Vollard’s second album, and the contents of Clot’s estate included 45 impressions of “Afternoon Tea” and 160 impressions of “Mother and Daughter.” The presence of so many impressions of “Mother and Daughter” in Clot’s estate indicates that he must have been the printer for both of Whistler’s double portraits. In fact, it is quite likely that when Vollard asked Clot to print “Afternoon Tea” for the second album, he also had the printer edition “Mother and Daughter” for a projected third album of original prints, which was never realized.

“Mother and Daughter” has appeared in the Whistler literature with the alternate title “La Mère Malade.” The source of this title is unknown, but it may be an early title used by dealers in Paris. Since there is no visual or documentary evidence to suggest that Mrs. Philip was ill when she posed for both this image and “Afternoon Tea,” “Mother and Daughter” seems more appropriate.

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