THE DUET

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
THE DUET
Lithograph
1894

An original James Abbott McNeill Whistler Lithograph print.

1894

Original lithograph printed in black ink on antique laid paper.

Hand-signed with the artist’s butterfly monogram in pencil lower right, also signed on the stone with the butterfly upper left.

A superb lifetime impression of Spink’s only state of this rare lithograph From the edition of only 39 recorded by T.R. Way in his 1905 catalogue, printed by Thomas Way (apart from the posthumous edition of 12 printed by Goulding in 1904).

Catalog: Spink 104; Levy 95; Way 64.

9 11/16 x 6 inches

Sheet Size: 12 3/8 x 7 7/8 inches

“The Duet” is the second lithograph that Whistler drew of Beatrix Whistler and her sister Ethel seated at the piano in the Whistlers’ Paris home. It is an elaborate reprise of the rather rough, experimental drawing made a few weeks earlier and printed by the Parisian printer Lemercier. The compositional elements of the two duet lithographs are almost identical, although the scale of the figures in relation to the setting has been altered, and the format of this image is taller and narrower than the first version. Mood and atmosphere are also different; whereas the earlier lithograph with its diffused light and long shadows may be read as a late-afternoon scene, this image is unmistakably nocturnal. The shadows have been deepened, the sisters’ faces, as well as Beatrix’s forearms, are brilliantly illuminated by the light of a small lamp. The tonal richness of “The Duet” offers a dramatic contrast to the pale, tenuous character of Whistler’s earlier attempt.

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