The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler

YMSM 020
Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain'

Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain'

Artist: James McNeill Whistler
Date: 1856/1858
Collection: Whereabouts Unknown
Accession Number: none
Medium: oil
Support: canvas
Size: 58.4 x 68.6 cm (24 x 27")
Signature: 'Whistler'
Inscription: none
Frame: unknown

Date

J. Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell 1908
J. Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell 1908

Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain' probably dates from between 1856 and 1858. 1

F. Boucher, Diane au bain, Musée du Louvre
F. Boucher, Diane au bain, Musée du Louvre

Whistler's painting was a copy of Diane au bain or Diana after the bath by Francois Boucher (1703-1770) (1742, Musée du Louvre, Inv. 2712), which was bought by the Louvre in 1852.

On 17 June 1856, Whistler, sponsored by Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre (1806-1874), obtained permission to enter the Musées Impériaux, Paris, 'pour les jours d'étude' (on study days). 2 There is, however, no record in the Archives du Louvre of Whistler having requested permission to copy a painting by Boucher.

Although there is no recorded history of Whistler's copy before 1905, it would seem likely that it was in the Winans family from an early date, and may even have been commissioned by them. It is not known under what circumstances Whistler painted this, since, unlike Copy after Mignard's 'La Vierge à la grappe' y012, Copy after Schnetz's 'Les Adieux du consul Boëtus à sa famille' y013, Copy after Greuze's 'La Cruche cassée' y014, and Copy after Ziegler's 'La Vision de St Luc' y015, his name does not appear in the Archives du Louvre among those registered to copy Boucher's picture.

Images

J. Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell !908
J. Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell !908

F. Boucher, Diane au bain, Musée du Louvre
F. Boucher, Diane au bain, Musée du Louvre

Subject

Titles

Variations on the title are as follows:

'Copy after Boucher's "Diane au bain" ' is the preferred title.

Description

J. Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell 1908
J. Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell 1908

Whistler's painting is a copy of Diane au bain or Diana after the bath by Francois Boucher (1703-1770) (1742, 57 x 73 cm). It is known only from the photograph reproduced by the Pennells. 5

Boucher's composition is in horizontal format: to right of centre there is a nude woman seated in profile facing left, with a small crescent moon in her blonde hair. She is seated on blue, white and striped pink and grey robes spread by a river bank, her left leg resting on her right knee, holding a pearl necklace. Another nude woman crouches behind her, to left. In front of them, to left, is a stream, and by it, arrows lie in a quiver on the ground, and behind them are a couple of dogs. In the foreground at right are the birds and bunnies she has shot, slung from a stick. There are trees in the background.

Sitter

Diana was the Roman goddess of animals and the hunt, identified with the Greek goddess Artemis, and thus also associated with the moon.

Comments

According to Reff, Boucher's picture was one of the most popular subjects copied in the Louvre. Edouard Manet (1832-1883), Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) and Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) all registered to copy it, although none of their copies survives. 6

Technique

Composition

J. Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell 1908
J. Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell 1908

F. Boucher, Diane au bain, Musée du Louvre
F. Boucher, Diane au bain, Musée du Louvre

Whistler's copy showed all of Boucher's composition and was in all essentials complete.

Technique

Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell 1908
Whistler, Copy after Boucher's 'Diane au bain', repr. Pennell 1908

It appears to be a careful copy, painted without impasto, but the old photograph that is the only record of the painting is not clear enough to be certain of detail, or of colour.

Conservation History

Unknown.

Frame

Unknown.

History

Provenance

It is very likely indeed that it had been in the Winans family from the 1850s. Ross Winans (1795-1877), a railway engineer, married first Julia de Kay (1800-1850) and secondly, years later, Elizabeth K. West (1887-1889). By his first marriage he had five children: Thomas de Kay, born in 1820, William Louis (1823), Julia de Kay (1825), DeWitt Clinton (1838) and finally Walter Scott Winans, born in 1840.

The Winans and Whistler families were connected by profession, marriage and patronage. Thomas de Kay Winans (1820-1878) was one of Whistler's earliest patrons. His sister Julia de Kay Whistler (1825-1875) married Whistler's older half-brother George William Whistler (1822-1869). William Louis Winans (1823-1897) was enthusiastic about Whistler's paintings and tried to obtain publicity for him, in the USA. 7 He married Maria Anne de La Rue (1825-1904), and they had two sons, Walter Winans (1852-1920) and Louis William Winans (1857-1927). Both the brothers lived in England, and could have inherited Whistler's copy, either after W. L. Winans' death in 1897 or his wife's death in 1904. Louis W. Winans was a collector, among other things, of gems, including the famous Agra diamond. 8

According to members of the Winans family, they had no record of this painting by 1980. 9

Exhibitions

The painting was not exhibited in Whistler's lifetime. It was shown only once, at the 1905 Memorial exhibition in London after Whistler's death. The Westminster Gazette described it as 'a curiosity in the shape of a version by Whistler of a picture by Boucher in the Louvre. This is presumably an early work, and not without interest, as it is rather, perhaps, to be described as a translation than a copy.' 10

Bibliography

Catalogues Raisonnés

Authored by Whistler

Catalogues 1855-1905

Newspapers 1855-1905

Journals 1855-1905

Monographs

Books on Whistler

Books, General

On Boucher:

Catalogues 1906-Present

Journals 1906-Present

Websites

On Boucher:

Unpublished

Other


Notes:

1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 20).

2: Card No. 3338, Comte Alfred Émilien O'Hara van Nieuwerkerke (1811-1892) to Whistler, GUW #04523.

3: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905 (cat. no. 117).

4: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 20).

5: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 1, p. 73, repr f.p. 72.

6: Reff 1964 [more], at pp. 555-58.

7: e.g. W. L. Winans to Thomas Winans, 17 May 1860, GUW #07085.

8: 'The Agra' in 'Famous Diamonds', Blog.

9: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 20).

10: 'The Whistler Exhibition.-II', Westminster Gazette, London, 10 March 1905, p. 4.