Tête-à-Tête in the Garden. 1894. Lithograph. Way 54, Levy 85, Tedeschi, Stratis and Spink 90. 8 x 6 1/2(sheet 10 7/8 x 8 1/2). Edition of 25 lifetime impressions plus a few proofs recorded by Way (Goulding printed 30 posthumous impressions in 1904, after which the stone was erased). A foxing spot, otherwise excellent condition.Printed on ivory laid paper from an antique volume, numbered 178 recto and 177 verso, lower right. A well-inked lifetime impression of this extremely scarce print. Signed with the butterfly in the stone. $6,500.
According to Joseph Pennell, the figures seated in the garden at Whistler's home at 110, rue de Bac, Paris, are Ethel Birnie Philip, Whistler's sister-in-law, and her husband Charles Whibley.
According to Tedeschi, Stratis and Spink "Whistler wrote to the New York dealer Edward Kennedy sending him a list of 'new and beautiful lithographs' that were to be mailed to New York from Paris two days later. Among the prints in the shipment were two impressions of Tête-à-Tête in the Garden. As far as can be determined, the Ways never reprinted the lithograph after the original set of twenty-five impressions (plus a few proofs) was pulled in July 1894." (pages 277, 279).
Stratis, Spink and Tedeschi write, p. 279: "According to T.R. Way, Whistler drew [The Little Café au Bois] this nocturnal scene of men and women gathering at an outdoor café-chantant 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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