Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

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La Mère Gérard (1)


Only one title is known:

  • 'La Mère Gérard' (1861, Royal Academy of Arts, London). 1
  • 'La Mère Gérard' (1905, ISSPG). 2
  • 'La Mère Gérard (1)' (1980, YMSM). 3

Because there are two portraits of this sitter it was necessary to give them consecutive numbers, this being 'La Mère Gérard (1)' and the other La Mère Gérard (2) [YMSM 027].


                    La Mère Gérard (1), Colby College Museum of Art
La Mère Gérard (1), Colby College Museum of Art

A half-length portrait in vertical format, showing an elderly woman, seated facing the viewer. She wears a black jacket or shawl over a dark grey skirt. Her white muslin bonnet has a ruched trim, and is tied under her chin. Her left hand, resting on her lap, holds a yellow pansy. The background is a warm black.


Mère Gérard (fl. 1810-1860).

                    La Mère Gérard (2), Washington County Museum of Fine Arts
La Mère Gérard (2), Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

Whistler made several other portraits of her: an oil, La Mère Gérard (2) [YMSM 027], and two etchings, La Mère Gérard [24]. and La Mère Gérard, Stooping [25].

Other studies of elderly women by Whistler include drawings such as Standing figure of an old woman [M.0275], etchings including La Rétameuse [26], La Vieille aux Loques [27] and a second portrait of the same sitter, La Mère Gérard (2) [YMSM 027].


1: 93rd Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1861 (cat. no. 272).

2: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905 (cat. no. 68).

3: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 26).

Last updated: 18th April 2021 by Margaret