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James Abbott McNeill Whistler. 1834-1903.

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The Little Café au Bois. 1894. Lithograph. Way 56, Levy 87, Stratis, Spink and Tedeschi 91.i. 8 1/2 x 6 (sheet: 11 1/8 x 9). A fine lifetime impression printed on 'Van Gelder Zonen' countermarked laid paper. Way lists 28 lifetime impressions (Goulding printed 41 posthumously on April 12, 1904). Provenance: collector's seal of Henry Harper Benedict (Lugt 2936), a New Yorker who amassed an important Whistler collection of 270 etchings and 1643 lithographs. Signed with the butterfly in the stone and in pencil. $10,000.

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Stratis, Spink and Tedeschi write, p. 279: "According to T.R. Way, Whistler drew this nocturnal scene of men and women gathering at an outdoor caféchantant in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. It is something of a compositional pendant to Tête-à-Tête in the Garden (cat. no 90), drawn about about the same time: both are casually grouped figures seated outdoors, and in both the artist experimented with different ways of using the white of the paper to represent light.

In Tête-à-Tête in the Garden, an overall suffusion of bright afternoon sunlight is evenly dappled with the cast shadows of surrounding foliage. In The Little Café au Bois, Whistler rendered the effect of artificial illumination at night by assertively using the lithographic crayon to establish a complex, alternating pattern of light and dark."

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