Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

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Le Bébé français

Le Bébé français probably dates from 1897. 1

Le Bébé français, The Hunterian
Le Bébé français, The Hunterian

1897: Whistler was in Etretat for a holiday in September. He seems to have been popping back and forth from London to Etretat, where his in-laws, the Birnie Philips, were staying for the summer. According to Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), on 28 September 1897 Whistler returned from London to Etretat and began the portrait of a local baby, which may be this portrait. 2

1900: On 20 February Whistler, then living in Paris, told Miss Birnie Philip, who was in London: 'I should like that head of the baby I did at Etretat sent at once through Mr. Marchant, (Goupils) to their house here - It must not have any frame - but then must be wrapped in something - some old drapery - and tied up in brown paper.' 3 This may refer to Le Bébé français, but it is not clear why Whistler wanted it, and there is no further mention of it.


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 484).

2: Note by Miss R. Birnie Philip from her letters to Mrs Whibley, GUL Whistler BP III B/9.

3: [20 February 1900], GUW #04773.

Last updated: 22nd October 2020 by Margaret