Head of an Old Man Smoking probably dates from the spring of 1858.
In 1858 the Maison Fontaine, frame-makers at Cité Bergère, No. 2, and Faubourg Montmartre, No. 6, Paris, sent Whistler a bill for purchases during the year, including frames for size 6 canvasses in February and March. 1 The French canvas size 6 is 41 × 33 cm for a figure, 41 × 27 cm for a landscape, and 41 × 24 cm for a marine. Head of an Old Man Smoking [YMSM 025] matches the size for a figure canvas, which suggests that this painting could have been painted early in 1858.
The Pennells in their biography of Whistler implied a date of about 1859, which is possible, stylistically, but the evidence points to a date of 1858. 2
Last updated: 1st November 2020 by Margaret