Portrait of Drouet
James Abbott McNeill Whistler ( American, 1834 - 1903 )
The American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler is generally credited with spurring the Etching Revival, an artistic movement that flourished in Britain and France during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The artists of the Etching Revival sought to renew etching as a form of original artistic expression rather than mere reproduction. Their graphic work not only looked back to the open, painterly style of Rembrandt and his generation but demonstrated a modern sensibility in the choice of subject matter. Although Whistler is best known for his evocative and atmospheric landscapes, his etchings demonstrate the painter’s deftness as a draftsman. Whistler’s "Portrait of Drouet," an etching of the French sculptor Charles Drouet, both reveals the sitter’s artistic personality and masterfully records his appearance, from the hidden eyes to the robust beard. The etching was singled out for praise in 1874 when exhibited at Whistler’s first one-man show at the Flemish Gallery. For unknown reasons Whistler canceled the plate in 1879 and few Drouet portraits survive today.