THE MUSIC-ROOM

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
THE MUSIC-ROOM
Etching
1858

An original James Abbott McNeill Whistler Etching.

1858

Original etching printed in black ink on laid paper bearing the “Crowned GR with Crossed Branches in a Circle” watermark.

A superb, richly inked impression of Glasgow’s second state of four, Kennedy’s second and final state printed after the addition of the diagonal shading to Mrs. Haden’s hands; more shading to her hair and dress; the fingers of Haden’s right hand are now defined; there is more close shading all over the right background and on the floor to right of Haden, particularly under the table; the area behind Traer and the lamp is almost black.

Catalog: Kennedy 33 ii/ii; Glasgow 39 ii/iv.

Platemark: 5 5/8 x 8 inches Sheet size: 7 x 12 3/16 inches

Depicted is the music room of the Haden residence in London. On the left is Francis Seymour Haden, sitting in an armchair reading a newspaper, with his legs stretched out to left. In the middle is a round table covered with a square cloth, lit by a tall table-lamp with an asymmetrical shade. Behind this sits James Reeves Traer, Haden’s assistant, reading, and leaning his book on the table. At front right, Lady Deborah Haden sits facing left, wearing a dark dress with white collar and cuffs, and holding a book close to her eyes in order to read. At back left there is a fireplace, with a picture propped against it and ornaments on the mantelpiece. To right of the fireplace (and behind Haden) there is a light area – possibly a window covered with a blind. Behind Traer is a very dark, shadowed area, and behind Deborah Haden, a lighter, shadowed wall or screen.
During the artist’s lifetime “The Music Room” was only exhibited in America, in New York in 1881 and Chicago in 1900.   Perhaps this was because of the rift between Whistler and Haden which came to a head after Traer’s death in a Paris brothel in 1867.  Haden had arranged for his body to be buried quickly and without ceremony in Père Lachaise cemetery, and Whistler was outraged.  A fight broke out between Haden and Whistler and his brother William in a café in Paris, and Whistler pushed Haden through a plate-glass window.  The two never spoke again.

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