Nov 12, 2020 - Sale 2550

Sale 2550 - Lot 148

Price Realized: $ 7,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 7,000 - $ 10,000

Etching and drypoint on antique cream laid paper, 1859. 152x228 mm; 6x9 inches, full margins. MacDonald's second state (of 2), with the vertical and diagonal drypoint lines added in the upper right corner and still with the pentimenti of the figure lower right distinct. A brilliant, richly-inked impression with very strong contrasts.

The model for Venus is Fumette, Whistler's Parisian mistress during the late 1850s. This is one of three portraits he made of her at the time. Her pose resembles Rembrandt's nudes, notably the figure in Jupiter and Antiope, etching, 1659 (Bartsch 203, see lot 78), while the sensuality of the subject recalls nude paintings by the French painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) from around this time.

According to MacDonald, Frederick Wedmore, the prominent collector of Whistler's etchings, unflatteringly described Venus as, "A naked woman lying on her side, in bed, apparently sleeping, and with bent arm raised to her breast . . . It is the nude seen by Mr. Whistler with rather common eyes, for once--an animal, whom sleep has overcome."

MacDonald cites 27 impressions in public collections. We have found only 17 other impressions at auction in the past 30 years. Kennedy 59; Glasgow 60.