Sketches on the Coast Survey Plate
James McNeill Whistler American
Not on view
Whistler made his first etching while employed as a draftsman at the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in Washington, D.C., between 1854 and 1855. A staff member taught him the technique and supplied him with a copper plate, on which he etched topographic renderings of coastlines, then sketched freely drawn figures, and an oval vignette representing "Mrs. Partington and Ike"—characters from a Mark Twain story. The hooded hidalgo, or minor Spanish nobleman, at upper right is likely a self-portrait that hints at the artist’s bubbling ambition. Within a few months, he would be in Paris, pursing an artistic career.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.