Little Arthur

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 8
Date: 1857/1858
Medium: etching
Size: 81 x 54 (K5) 57 x 48 mm
Signed: 'J.W.' at lower left (1-3); 'Whistler' at lower right (2-3); removed (4); 'Whistler' at lower left (4).
Inscribed: 'Imp. Delatre. Rue. St. Jacques. 171.' at lower left (3)
Set/Publication: 'French Set', 1858
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 61
Catalogues: K.9; M.7; T.8; W.13
Impressions taken from this plate  (61)


Published as Little Arthur in Douze eaux-fortes d'après Nature (Twelve Etchings from Nature, the 'French Set') in 1858.
The early 'French Set' etchings were printed by Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907). It seems likely that impressions of the third state of Little Arthur, with Delâtre's address on the plate, were part of the original 'French Set' published in Paris. It is not known how many complete sets were printed in Paris but at least a dozen seems likely. One impression of the second state was owned by Philippe Burty (1830-1890), and a third state was owned by Alfred Beurdeley (1847-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090309), who presumably bought them in Paris.
The copper plate may have been reduced in size in London, and Delâtre's name removed, for the fourth state, when Whistler and Haden undertook to print the edition. It was then printed for the English edition of the 'French set'. This would account for Mansfield's assertion that it was published in the 'fifth' state in the 'French Set'. 11

11: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 7).


This was a fairly well-known image. It was first shown in an exhibition of the work of contemporary painters at The Hague in 1863. 12 Nine years later, an impression went touring with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in 1874. 13

It was also exhibited in public exhibitions, such as in Philadelphia in 1879. 14 Two of three impressions owned by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) were lent to an exhibition at the Union League Club, New York, in 1881 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090101, Graphic with a link to impression #K0090310, Graphic with a link to impression #K0090528) and Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent his impression to an exhibition organised by the Caxton Club, Chicago, in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090502). 15

Others were for sale in print dealer's shows, particularly at H. Wunderlich & Co. (1898 and 1903) and F. Keppel & Co. (1902) in New York, and Obach & Co. in London in 1903. 16 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought two of the exhibits at Wunderlich's in 1898.

After Whistler's death, Little Arthur was exhibited in the big Memorial Exhibitions in New York, Paris and London. For instance, an impression was lent by King Edward VII to the Whistler Memorial show in London in 1905. 17

12: Hague 1863; see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

13: Liverpool 1874 (cat. nos. 508, 508a).

14: Philadelphia 1879.

15: New York 1881 (cat. nos. 18, 19); Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 13).

16: New York 1898 (cat. no. 12), New York 1903b (cat. nos. 8a, 8b).

17: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 14 a,b, c); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 13); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 294).


Little Arthur was a popular image among Whistler's family (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090305, Graphic with a link to impression #K0090527) including Thomas de Kay Winans (1820-1878) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090532), patrons (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090509) and public. Winans bought Whistler's etchings in the summer of 1859, through Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), to whom he wrote on 20 June: 'I enclose two drafts on Liverpool amounting to £63 sterling and as requested by you, for the etchings - they arrived in good order and are considered very fine, doing Jemmy great credit, I hope he will get up another sett' [sic]. 18 By that date Whistler was indeed at work on the next set, of the Thames.

18: GUW #07079.

The first impression to go to a public collection was a final state given with a complete 'French Set to South Kesington Museum (now the V&A) by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) in 1861 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090201). Haden also owned a first (Graphic with a link to impression #K0060102) and third (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090303) state, which were sold in 1898 through H. Wunderlich & Co., and with the advice of Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0060102).
The next public collection to acquire an impression was the British Museum, which bought one from the collection of Philippe Burty (1830-1890) in 1866 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090201), and another from 'Mr Thomas' - either Edmund Thomas (1842-1883) or Percy Thomas (1846-1922) - in 1872 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090304). 19

19: B.M. Register of Purchases ... 1872.

In 1873 Whistler sold a group of etchings to Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892). However, as he wrote to Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907), Leyland did not want the Haden portraits:
'Les Eaux fortes sont arrivées en parfaite santé - et ont été bien admirées. / Il y en a 29 - dont 23 Monsieur Leyland voudrait bien vous acheter. Les autres six il ne tient pas posséder. ... Les six épreuves rejetées sont - les 5 petits portraits des enfants de Mons. Haden - ... Il me parait peut être que l'offre n'est pas mal - Car les autres petites épreuves vous arriverez sans doute à vendre ou à Avery ou à d'autres - '
(Translated: 'The etchings arrived in perfect condition - and have been much admired. There are 29 - of which Mr Leyland would like to buy 23 from you. The other six he does not care to own. ... The six rejected prints are - the 5 small portraits of Mr. Haden's children -... I feel that it is perhaps not a bad offer - Because you will doubtless be able to sell the other small prints either to Avery or to others -') 20

20: Whistler to Delâtre, 22 January [1873], GUW #11190.

Two of the five 'rejected' etchings were probably Little Arthur and Annie [7], which were published in the 'French Set' by Delâtre; other possibilities are Seymour, Standing [10], Annie Haden with Books [6], Seymour Haden, Jr, Seated [9], Annie, Seated [32], Seymour [30], Arthur Haden [66] or Annie Haden [67].
Impression: K0090101
Delâtre may well have sold some to Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), for at some time Avery acquired three impressions, of the first (reproduced above), third and final states of Little Arthur (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090101, Graphic with a link to impression #K0090310, Graphic with a link to impression #K0090528). These went with his collection to form the basis of the Print Collection in New York Public Library. The Library also received the gift of a good impression of the final state from the print dealer, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090202).
Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921) described it as a 'charming little portrait'. 21 However, at auction the prices were fairly low. For instance, three impressions from Burty's collection were bought by print dealers in 1876 at prices from £0.15.0 to a high of £8.0.0, and one at the Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) sale in 1892 brought only £0.12.0. 22 Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) owned two different states, and having exhibited his collection in a travelling exhibition in 1874, he sold these, one on India and the other on Japanese paper, at Sotheby's in a three-day sale from 27 June 1876 (lots 653-654) .

Colnaghi's handled several third states; for instance, one went to the Library of Congress (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090308), and another to Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) and thence to the National Gallery of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090306). One owned by Charles Sydenham Haden (1822-1898) was eventually bought through Colnaghi's by Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) and bequeathed to the University of Michigan Museum of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090305), and another was sold to Albert Henry Wiggin (1868-1951) and went to Boston Public Library (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090311). Impressions tended to pass from dealer to dealer: both Colnaghi's and Knoedler's handled one owned by Alfred Beurdeley (1847-1919) and later by Charles A. Coffin (1844-1926) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090309); likewise both Colnaghi's and Wunderlich's handled another (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090312). Colnaghi's sold one to the Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden in 1897 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090522) and Obach & Co. sold another to the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, 1908, this for the bargain basement price of £2.10.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090508).

21: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 13).

22: Sotheby's, 30 April 1876 (lots 734-736) 'First state' bought by 'Riggall', £2.7.0, 'second' and 'third' by Hogarth for £0.15.0 and £8.0.0; 28 February 1890 (lot 474) bought by 'Price', £0.10.0; 3 March 1892 (lot 55) 'third state' bought by 'Blunt', £0.12.0.

Among the early collectors of Little Arthur was Freer, as already mentioned, who had also bought a final state, in 1890, quite early in his Whistler collecting career (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090503). Other collectors included James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1888) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090z03); George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090506); Henry F. Sewall (1816-1896) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090520); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090531); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090502); Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090302); James A. McCallum (1862-1948) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090516); Edward de Turck Bechtel (1880-1957) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090523); and Pauline Kohlsaat Palmer (1882-1956) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0090z01).