Having first studied in Boston, Tolman pursued further training in Paris, at the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts, from 1884 to 1886. "The Etcher" shares the French academic interest in portrayals of artists at work. It depicts Tolman’s friend and fellow student William H. Bicknell (1860–1947), probably in the Boston studio shared by the two artists. Bicknell is shown etching, working from a mirror that reflects a page of the book propped up to his left. A translucent screen diffuses light from the dormer overhead. The hanging wine bottles add a note of levity to the scene of artistic concentration.
Signature: [at lower left]: STACY TOLMAN
Marking: [stamped on canvas on the back]: MEADE, DODGE & CO. / Artists Materials / 4 PARK ST. / BOSTON, MASS. / FRAMING / A SPECIALTY
with Williams and Everett, Boston, 1890; possibly the estate of the sitter, Winchester, Massachusetts, after 1947; with Childs Gallery, Boston and The Old Print Shop, New York, until 1962