Theodore Duret (1838–1927), heir to a firm of Cognac dealers, was a collector, orientalist, and art critic. An early champion of Courbet, Manet, and the Impressionists, he was introduced to Whistler by Manet. He posed for this portrait in 1883 at Whistler's London studio at 13 Tite Street. At Duret's request, Whistler painted him in full evening dress, but Whistler suggested that he hold a pink domino, an addition necessary to the decorative arrangement of the composition. Whistler worked on the portrait over a long period of time, even though the finished work ultimately looks like a rapid sketch. Acclaimed when exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1885, it was ranked by many as the best portrait of Duret painted by any of the great Realist artists of the period.
Signature: [at right center]: [butterfly monogram]
Theodore Duret, Paris, 1885–1913; with Edward G. Kennedy, New York, as agent, 1913