Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 13
Date: 1858
Medium: etching
Size: 109 x 156 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at upper right (1-final); 'J. Whistler' at lower left (3)
Inscribed: 'Imp. Delatre. Rue St. Jacques. 171.' at lower right (3)
Set/Publication: 'French Set', 1858
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 48
Catalogues: K.16; M.16; T.2; W.4
Impressions taken from this plate  (48)


It was published as Liverdun, No. 1 in Douze eaux-fortes d'après Nature (Twelve Etchings from Nature, the 'French Set') in 1858.


As part of a published set, Liverdun became a fairly well-known print. It was first shown in an exhibition of the work of contemporary painters at The Hague in 1863. 6 An impression was shown in Whistler's one-man show in London in 1874, and another toured with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) to Liverpool in the same year. 7

It was seen in public exhibitions, such as at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1879, and in private clubs, for the connoisseur. A 'Trial proof; rare; before name' was shown at the Union League Club in New York in 1881 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160101) with another impression, 'The same. The published state.' 8 Both would have been 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.

It appeared in print dealers' shows, at H. Wunderlich & Co. (1898, 1903) and F. Keppel & Co. (1902) in New York. 9 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought two of the impressions in 1898. Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent an impression to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160202). 10


7: London Pall Mall 1874; Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 502).

8: New York 1881 (cat. nos. 4, 5).

9: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 502).

10: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 4).

It was also shown in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, at the Grolier Club in New York as well as in Boston in 1904, and King Edward VII lent a 'French Set' to the London Memorial Exhibition in 1905. 11

11: New York 1904a (cat. no. 5); Boston 1904 (cat. no. ?); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 4).


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 Liverdun (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160232) 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'. 12

12: 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 Liverdun (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160218). 13

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

Liverdun was primarily sold as part of the 'French Set', and sales are not mentioned in Whistler's letters, so it is difficult to establish early prices. First and second state impressions from the collection of Philippe Burty (1830-1890) were bought at auction in 1876 by the print dealer Hogarth and by 'Ruggall' for £1.15.0 and £2.0.0 respectively. 14 An impression sold at Sotheby's on 23 April 1887 (lot 395) with the descriptive title 'Old farmyard with white cow' was bought by Wunderlich's for a very small sum, only £0.10.0. In later auctions it fetched between £0.5.0 and £1.4.0. 15

The highest prices went naturally to impressions that appeared rare or unusual. At the William Drake (1817-1890) sale in 1892 a 'first undescribed state' was bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) for £1.4.0. After the death of Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), his important collection was sold at Sotheby's and an 'early impression on greenish paper' was bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) for £0.12.0, while 'another impression' was bought by 'Church' for £0.11.0. 16 To put these comparatively low prices in context, a complete 'French Set' was bought by Colnaghi's for £6.0.0 in 1894. 17

Among the etchings acquired by Whistler's brother-in-law, Seymour Haden, were two states of Liverdun, exhibited and bought from Wunderlich's, through Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160102, Graphic with a link to impression #K0160203) in 1898.

14: Sotheby's, 30 April 1876 (lots 723, 724).

15: George William Reid sale, Sotheby's, 28 February 1890 (lot 471) bought by B. F. Stevens, £1.0.0; Christie’s, 21 July 1891 (lot 142) bought by Dickens, £0.5.0; Sotheby's, 15 December 1896 (lot 255) bought by Harrington for £0.19.0.

16: Christie’s, 8-9 March 1892 (lot 332), Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lots 46, 47).

17: Christie’s, 31 July 1894 (lot 8).

The British Museum acquired an impression in 1872 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160209). William Loring Andrews (1837-1927) gave one to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1883 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160230). Other early collectors included Henry F. Sewall (1816-1896), who had a good, sharp impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160208) that went to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1897. A few years after Whistler's death, an impression was bought from Obach & Co., London, by the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin for £4.0.0. 18

Etchings from the 'French Set' have suffered over the last 150 years, not always being recognised for what they were - fine examples of Whistler's earliest set of etchings. Fortunately some are still emerging from oblivion. A perfectly good impression was sold at 'Paddy's Market' in Liverpool, and presented by Ian Campbell to the Walker Art Gallery in November 1970 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0160z09).

18: Inventory book, 6 June 1907, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin.