Home > The Catalogue > Biography

Return to previous page

Henry Studdy Theobald, 1847-1934

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 7 June 1847
Place of Birth: Calcutta


Sir Henry Studdy Theobald was an English barrister and collector. He was the youngest son of W. Theobald of the Calcutta Bar. In 1885 he married Anne Rogers, the oldest daughter of Edward Rogers of Goldthorn, Wolverhampton.


Theobald received his education at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was awarded a first class degree in Classics and a second class in Mathematics. He became a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, and joined the Chancery Bar. He wrote numerous books on law, especially concerning wills and the law of railway companies.

Theobald, a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Society, became from around 1870 a keen collector of Whistler's etchings, e.g. Under Old Battersea Bridge 168. He also began collecting Whistler's drawings and pastels in the mid 1880s. Following Whistler's one-man show at Dowdeswell's in May 1884, Theobald purchased twenty-nine framed 'small pictures' by Whistler from this London dealer on 1 July 1885 for £200. According to Theobald, in the 1880s he acquired 'some thirty or forty drawings or pastels' through Dowdeswell. These included r.: Resting; v.: Standing figure m0381, Study of drapery m0567, Studies for the Mummy Cloth & Notes for Dress m0568, The Mouth of the River m0590, The Beggars - Winter m0727, The Staircase; note in red m0782, Erith - Evening m0884, Opal Beach m0886, The Anchorage m0887, The Bathers m0888, Grey and silver - Pier, Southend m0890, Violet and amber - Tea m0897, Violet and red m0898, Pink note - The Novelette m0900, r.: A Note in Green; v.: Maud in bed m0905, Harmony in violet and amber m0906, Pink Note - Shelling Peas m0925, Bravura in brown m0928, Grand Canal, Amsterdam; Nocturne m0944, Nocturne; grey and gold - Canal; Holland m0945 and Nocturne; black and red - Back Canal, Holland m0946.

Theobald recalled in a letter to the Pennells that Whistler would come and view the works he had bought, which were hanging on the stairway of his London home at 3 Westbourne Square: 'Whistler would stand in rapt admiration before them.' However, he also recalled that when Whistler wanted to borrow them 'it was a labour of Hercules to retrieve them'. Whistler asked for around fourteen or fifteen of Theobald's pictures for an exhibition in Paris in 1887. Of these, Theobald certainly lent Erith - Evening m0884 and Pink note - The Novelette m0900, and possibly many more since JW changed the titles. In 1888 Whistler asked that further pictures be lent: 'After all you have them always with you - like the poor!' (#09668). Theobald sold a group of sixteen watercolours to C. L. Freer on 20 June 1902.


Theobald, Henry Studdy, A Treatise on the Law of Wills, London, n.d.; Theobald, H. S., The Law of Land, London, 1902; Lugt, Frits, Les marques de collections de dessins et d'estampes: marques estampillèes et écrites de collections particulières et publiques; marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs; etc..., Amsterdam, 1921; Theobald, H. S., The Law of Railways, London, n.d.; Theobald, H. S., Remembrance of Things Past, 1935; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.