En Plein Soleil

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 11
Date: 1858
Medium: etching
Size: 101 x 136 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' upside-down at upper left; 'Whistler.' at lower left
Inscribed: 'Imp. Delatre. Rue St. Jacques. 171.' at lower right (3)
Set/Publication: 'French Set', 1858
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 44
Catalogues: K.15; M.12; T.4; W.6
Impressions taken from this plate  (44)


It was published as En plein soleil in Douze eaux-fortes d'après Nature (Twelve Etchings from Nature, the 'French Set') in 1858. En plein soleil was listed third in the prospectus.


As part of a published set, this became a fairly well-known print. It was first shown in an exhibition of the work of contemporary artists at The Hague in 1863. 12 An impression was shown in Whistler's one-man show in London in 1874, and was praised by the critic of The Builder : '"The Parasol," "The Miser," and the "Old Farm" may be mentioned as showing genius and interest : the last name is a masterly study of an old picturesque building.' 13 Another impression toured with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) to Liverpool and elsewhere in the same year. 14

It was seen in public exhibitions, such as in Philadelphia in 1879, and in private clubs, for the connoisseur. A 'Trial proof before printer's name' appeared in a show at the Union League Club in New York in 1881 with another impression, 'Plate cleaned, and with the name' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150101 and Graphic with a link to impression #K0150225). 15 Both were lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), who was largely responsible for the comments in the catalogue, distinguishing the state and rarity of individual impressions and arranging them in roughly chronological order.

Later, impressions appeared in print dealers' shows, particularly at H. Wunderlich & Co. (1898, 1903) and F. Keppel & Co. (1902) in New York. 16 Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent his impression of the second state to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club show in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150202). 17

Impressions were also seen in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death. Impressions were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and in Paris in 1905, and King Edward VII lent a 'French Set' including En Plein Soleil to the London Memorial Exhibition in 1905. 18

12: Hague 1863 (cat. no. unknown); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS

13: 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', The Builder, 5 July 1874 (in GUL PC1/73). London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 44).

14: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 504).

15: New York 1881 (cat. no. 7).

16: New York 1898 (cat. no. 5); New York 1902; New York 1903b (cat. no. 3).

17: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 6).

18: New York 1904a (cat. no. 7); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 290); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 6).


In marketing the 'French Set' Whistler was helped by his family, including Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910). Thomas de Kay Winans (1820-1878) bought Whistler's etchings including En Plein Soleil (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150232) 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'. 19

19: GUW #07079.

On 1 January 1861 Haden sold 16 prints to what was then the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) for £10.10.0, and in addition presented the museum with a complete 'French Set', as printed by Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907) including En Plein Soleil (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150217). 20

20: V&A, Register for Prints, p. 33.

Other early collectors of this etching include Philippe Burty (1830-1890) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150102) and Alfred Beurdeley (1847-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150233) in France; Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150225), Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150202) and Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150213) in the USA; Charles Sydenham Haden (1822-1898) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150216), Guy John Fenton Knowles (1879-1959) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150221) and James A. McCallum (1862-1948) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150206) in the UK.

At auction, prices were very low. At Burty's sale there were impressions of two states: the unique first proof, annotated '1er Etat. avec les cheveux blonds.' was bought by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) for £1.10.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0150102) and another impressions was bought by 'Riggall' for £0.15.0. 21 James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) had an impression of En Plein Soleil, which he showed in a travelling exhibition in 1874 and sold at Sotheby's in a three-day sale from 27 June 1876 (lot 646). Print dealers, buying at auction, included Messrs Dowdeswell, paying only £0.11.0 at Sotheby's in 1889, and Deprez & Gutekunst, paying £1.1.0 at the sale of the collection of William Drake (1817-1890) in 1892, and £0.12.0 in 1896. 22 At the important sale of the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), Harrington - probably Henry Nazeby Harrington (1862-1937) - bought one for a even lower price, £0.5.0. 23

However, the etching was more usually sold with the rest of the 'French Set'. The London print dealers, Colnaghi's, for instance, splashed out £6.0.0 for the set of twelve etchings in 1894, and 'Philpot' paid £5.0.0 for a set in 1897. 24

21: Sotheby's, 30 April 1876 (lots 726, 727).

22: Sotheby's, 12 December 1889 (lot 777); Christie's, 8-9 March 1892 (lot 301); Sotheby's, 15 December 1896 (lot 257).

23: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 49).

24: Christie's, 31 July 1894 (lot 8), 17-20 February 1897 (lot 59).