James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American painter, known as an outspoken proponent of art for art’s sake, as opposed to illustrating narratives, and boldly overturning Victorian conventions. Whistler was born in Massachusetts, but had a cosmopolitan upbringing, spending part of his youth with his family in Imperial Russia. After flunking out of West Point, he left for Paris in 1855 and became a painter. He moved to London four years later, where he spent the rest of his life, but returned to Paris often. His landscapes and portraits, which were impressionistic and influenced by Japanese prints, were somewhat abstracted arrangements of muted colors. His work met with critical outrage at first, most famously from John Ruskin, whom he successfully sued for libel, but by the last 20 years of his life he was recognized as an original and influential painter, with memberships in the Royal Academies of Dresden and Bavaria, the Royal Society of British Artists, and the Société Nationale des Artistes Françaises. His works today are in the British Museum, the Louvre, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Giovanni Boldini was an Italian painter and printmaker, known for his elegant and expressive portraits and genre scenes in watercolors and oils. Born in Ferrara, Italy, he was the son of an artist and studied painting at the Academy of Florence for about six years. He left for London where he became known as a portraitist, then to Paris, where he remained after 1872 and exhibited regularly. He was awarded a membership in the Legion of Honor in 1889 and won two Grand Prizes at the Universal Expositions of 1889 and 1900. Important retrospectives of his work were held in Venice and Paris in the 1930s, shortly after his death.
Jacques Reich was an American painter and etcher. Born in Hungary, he studied art in Budapest, and continued his studies after emigrating to the United States in 1873 at the National Academy of Design and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He also studied in Paris. He moved to New York City in 1885. Reich made most of the pen portraits for Scribner’s Cyclopaedia of Painters and Paintings and Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography. He also made a series of copperplate etchings of portraits of American and English authors and etched and published a numerous portraits of famous Americans: presidents, politicians, business and military leaders, and artists.
Full publication information: “Etched by Jacques Reich” printed in lower center margin. “Copyright 1916 by Jacques Reich, N.Y.” printed in upper left margin. Signed and numbered by etcher lower left margin, “Artist’s Proof No. 11, of fifty Copies from the copper. Jacques Reich.”
Condition: Generally very good, recently professionally cleaned and deacidified with only light remaining toning and wear.
Boucheny de Grandval, M. “Boldini, Jean” in Bénézit, E. Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs. France: Librairie Gründ, 1966. Vol. 1, pp. 745-746.
Fielding, Mantle. Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors and Engravers. Green Farms, Connecticut: Modern Books and Crafts, 1926, rev. ed. 1974. p. 297.
“Portrait of James McNeill Whistler.” Brooklyn Museum. https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4654 (8 April 2019).
Zellman, Michael David, dir. American Art Analog. Vol.[fill in]. Chelsea House: New York, 1986. pp. 262-263.