Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 29
Date: 1858
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 152 x 90 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower right
Inscribed: '1858' at lower right (5)
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 80
Catalogues: K.23; M.23; T.31; W.17
Impressions taken from this plate  (80)
The date inscribed on the copper plate is generally assumed to read '1858'. It is rather unclear, and looks rather like '1851' and sometimes, when printed with some confusing burr, '1859'.

Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876) commented: 'There is a date to this state, under the W of the artist's name, which I think is intended for 1858. The figures were put in about 1861.' In the margin of his copy of Wedmore's catalogue, Ralph Thomas later wrote 'my father got Whistler to put the figures in'. 1

Lochnan suggested that Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris was etched on Whistler's return from the Rhineland in 1858, that is, after 7 October, and that the figures were added when Ralph Thomas, Sr (1803-1862), was encouraging Whistler to print his etchings in preparation for his first show of etchings in London in 1861. 2

1: Thomas 1874 (cat. no. 31); Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 17), collection of Paul Marks.

2: Lochnan 1984, p. 28; London Thomas 1861.