Auguste Delâtre, Printer

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 28
Date: 1858/1859
Medium: etching
Size: 84 x 56 mm
Signed: 'J. Whistler.' at upper right
Inscribed: 'Homage / à Mme. Delatre.' at upper right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.26; M.26; T.14; W.21
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)
Etching: PK026_01 (plate)
Recto, above; verso, below:
Etching: PK026_02 (plate)
This was one of the first copper plates bought by Whistler from the London firm of Hughes & Kimber, copper plate manufacturers, and bears their stamp: 'HUGHES AND KIMBER / MANUFACTURERS / RED LION PASSAGE / FLEET STREET / LONDON'. A similar rectangular stamp is found on Greenwich Pensioner [40] and Greenwich Park [41], which both date from 1859, in London. This suggests that the portrait was made in London when Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907) helped Whistler and Haden to print etchings.
In June 1859, the plate was apparently in Paris, and F.S. Haden asked Delâtre to ask Fantin-Latour to bring it to London, describing it as 'Votre portrait ([é]barbe effacée)' (translated: 'Your portrait (burr effaced)'. 9 This is an etching, and so there should have been no burr, but it may be that the copper plate bore signs of earlier work, drypoint, scrapes or damage. One impression does appear to have a slightly ragged edge at upper right, which may have been removed later (Graphic with a link to impression #K0260106).

9: Haden to Delâtre, 29 June [1859], GUW #13140.

In 1872 nine portraits by Whistler were exhibited in J.A. Rose's exhibition of engraved portraits at the opening of the Guildhall Library and Museum (cat. nos. 960-68) described as 'Nine portraits etched in copper - very rare - plates destroyed'. Candidates for these nine portraits include Auguste Delâtre, Printer [28], Whistler with a hat [44], C. L. Drouet, Sculptor [35], Finette [61], Z. Astruc, Editor of 'L'Artiste' [36], Arthur Haden [66], Mr Mann [73], Riault (The Wood Engraver) [69] and Axenfeld [68]. Other possibilities include Greenwich Pensioner [40], Bibi Valentin [34], Bibi Lalouette [33] and Fumette standing [59].
The copper plate was cancelled with crossed vertical and diagonal lines. It was certainly among plates cancelled by the time of Whistler's bankruptcy and was probably among those bought at the bankruptcy sale by the Fine Art Society, London. The plate was published in the set of Cancelled Plates ('Cancelled Set') by the Fine Art Society in 1879.
The plate was later returned to Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), who gave it to the University of Glasgow in 1935.