Annie Haden

A girl with long loose hair stands on a carpet in front of drapery. She is wearing a straw hat and cape over her dress; she is wearing flat shoes with rosetts on the top. She stands facing slightly to the left, although her eyes look at the viewer. Her left hand is not visible and her right hand holds the edge of her cape.
James McNeill Whistler
Whistler was very fond of the children of his half-sister, Deborah Haden. She and her husband, the surgeon and amateur printmaker Francis Seymour Haden, lived in London and Whistler spent a lot of time with the family. He drew and painted his sister and her children numerous times in the late 1850s and early 1860s. This portrait of his niece Annie was drawn when the sitter was about 12 years old. Whistler admired the paintings of Velázquez and here Whistler incorporated some of the conventions of aristocratic portraiture that he valued in the Spanish painter's work. However, despite the formality of the pose, Whistler's drypoint shows his touching empathy and affection for Annie. The face captures all the tentative self-consciousness of the young woman with the most delicate lines. Years later, even as late as 1900, when Whistler was asked if his reputation as a printmaker had to rely on only one of his works, he said that he'd stake his reputation on this plate of Annie Haden.
Bequest of Margaret Watson Parker
Thursday, December 13, 2018