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John Caldwell, fl. 1887-1907

Nationality: American
Date of Birth:


John Caldwell, of Pittsburg, was Board Chairman of Carnegie Art Galleries.


Although Caldwell was not wealthy, he was artistically minded and formed a substantial print collection including the works of William Merritt Chase and Frederick Childe Hassam, and etchings and lithographs of Whistler. The etchings in his collection included rarities such as K2520201, K2690301, K2830101, K3000101, K3370102, K3400105 and K3420101, as well as a significant number from the latter part of Whistler's career: K3760101, K3770101, K3830501, K3830301, K3890101, K4030401, K4080109, K4100201, K4100202, K4150103 and K4190201. Significant gaps in his collection included the French and Thames Sets. He did however own the ubiquitous K0470701, and a number of Venice etchings (K1840322, K1930315, K1980601, K2100701 and K2140401). His other etchings included: K0560201, K0600111, K0630201, K0690501, K0810114, K1090601, K1141201, K1400401, K1470402, K1670501and K1740501. A mark of their quality, a number were acquired by H. G. Whittemore and are now in the Library of Congress, Washington. He lent four Whistler etchings and drypoints to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893: Mr. Mann (no. 1642); Little Venice (no. 1657); The Traghetto (no. 1661); The Riva, No. 2 (no. 1666).

Caldwell was the Chairman of the Board of the Carnegie Art Galleries in Pittsburgh at the time of their second annual exhibition of 1897, when Whistler was on the Paris advisory Committee (see #00540). He was also manager of the United States Fine Arts Section at the Paris Exhibition in 1900 where Whistler's Mother of Pearl and Silver: The Andalusian y378 was hung. He was a member of the Grolier Club in New York which published E. G. Kennedy's catalogue of Whistler's etchings in 1910.

In 1894 he asked Whistler to design for him a book plate 'to please myself and honor my books' [#00503]. Whistler agreed but Caldwell did not have a coat of arms to put on it as Whistler requested. Arrangement in Black: Portrait of Señor Pablo de Sarasate y315 was sold by E. G. Kennedy to the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh on 30 November 1896 through the efforts of Caldwell. The two men were in correspondence in the 1890s.


Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; 'Etchings and lithographs: collection of John Caldwell', [1900?], Yale University Library, 700/4:12; (accessed August 2009).