James Abbott McNeill Whistler

An original James Abbott McNeill Whistler Etching.


Original etching printed in black ink on thin laid Japan paper.

Signed and dated in the plate lower left Whistler 1859.

A dark and richly printed impression of Kennedy and Glasgow’s second and final state of this scarce etching, showing touches of burr, printed after the addition of the heavy sky and second horse to the plate, one of only approximately 20 impressions of this state.

Catalog: Kennedy 36 ii/ii; Glasgow 45 ii/ii; Mansfield 35; Grolier Club 48; Wedmore 46; Thomas 2.

Platemark: 4 15/16 x 7 15/16 inches Sheet size: 9 1/8 x 12 1/2 inches

This etching is one of three landscapes etched by Whistler during the midsummer of 1859 during a visit to London by his friend and fellow artist Henri Fantin-Latour from Paris. It predates the Thames etchings of later in the same year and is considerably different than most of his etched work of this period. Landscape with a Horse is realist in both style and subject. The unusual approach to this image and its companions appears to be a product of his conversations with Fantin-Latour who had brought along with him from Paris a copy of an important salon review by Baudelaire in which the poet discussed his attitude toward the “realists” or “positivists”, as he called them, who were perfectly happy to paint nature as they found it, painters such as Courbet, Corot and Alphonse Legros. In Landscape with a Horse Whistler created a sense of recession by placing a figure close to the viewer and by moving the horizon line two thirds of the way up the picture space, a device that would appear in the Thames etchings soon to follow. The realism of men putting up telegraph poles inject a jarring modern note into this rural landscape, and are also prophetic of the wharf side figures soon to appear in the Thames subjects.