Street at Saverne

Impression: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Number: 14
Date: 1858
Medium: etching and open bite or sandpaper ground
Size: 209 x 159 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower left
Inscribed: 'Imp. Delatre. Rue St. Jacques' at lower right (2-3); erased (4)
Set/Publication: 'French Set', 1858
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 81
Catalogues: K.19; M.19; T.7; W.11
Impressions taken from this plate  (81)


It was published as Street at Saverne in Douze eaux-fortes d'après Nature (Twelve Etchings from Nature, the 'French Set') in 1858.


As part of a published set, Street at Saverne was a fairly well-known print. It was first shown in an exhibition of the work of contemporary painters at The Hague in 1863. 13 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. 14

Impressions were shown in public exhibitions, such as in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1879, and in private clubs, for connoisseurs and collectors. Examples of two states were lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) to the Union League Club, New York, in 1881 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190201, Graphic with a link to impression #K0190426) and another impression was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190402). 15

13: Hague 1863; see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

14: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 506); London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. nos. 5, 26).

15: New York 1881 (cat. nos. 15, 16); Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 11).

It appeared in print dealer's shows, at H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190202, Graphic with a link to impression #K0190403), and 1903, with F. Keppel & Co. in 1902, both in New York, and at Obach & Co. in London in 1903. The two exhibited by Wunderlich's in 1898 were bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190202, Graphic with a link to impression #K0190403). 16

Impressions were also exhibited in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death. These included the Grolier Club, New York, in 1904.Albert W. Scholle (1860-1917) lent an impression to Boston to the Copley Society exhibition, also in 1904. King Edward VII lent a 'French Set' (including this etching) to the London show in 1905. 17

16: New York 1898 (cat. no. 10).

17: New York 1904a (cat. no. 12); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 6); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 11).


Whistler was aided by his family in selling the 'French Set.' Thomas de Kay Winans (1820-1878) bought Whistler's etchings including Street at Saverne (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190430) 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'. 18

18: 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 a second state of what was then listed as 'Street, in Saverne' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190419). 19 It was one of the impressions printed on blue chine collé laid down on ivory wove paper. A similar impression on blue-grey chine collé was bought from 'Mr Thomas' - Edmund Thomas (1842-1883) or Percy Thomas (1846-1922) - by the British Museum in 1872 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190303).

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

E.D. Wallace (fl. 1871-1887), American, poet, novelist and writer on art, reported in considerable detail on a visit to the British Museum to see Whistler's works:
'let us go to the temple of art and science, and, provided with a "reader's ticket," and "special admission to the print room," we find in a row of elegantly bound folio cases, labeled "Etchings of British Artists," the jealously guarded works of Mr. Whistler, of Baltimore. We are cautioned by the clerk, who unlocks an immense case of pictures handsomely mounted on gilt edged boards, "to handle the treasures carefully," for there are no duplicates if those exquisite drypoints, and the British Museum is the only place in the world where they can be seen. ... The very first glance at Mr. Whistler's etchings is sufficient for a lover of art to learn that every picture is copied from nature direct, and each subject has its characteristic point brought out by a master hand. Whether a river scene in open daylight, or a cabaret by lamplight, an old interior, with stray patches of yellow reflected light, or the shades of a forest, with saucy sunbeams tipping the leafy branches with joyous scintillations, all are fully expressed, boldly or delicately, as the fancy may seize the artist, and every touch of the needle leaves a striking detail of the perfect composition of a rare genius. ... we turn to the French set, ... flying off to a moonlight scene in "Laverne," [sic] where on one corner a gleam of lantern-light interferes with a straggling moonbeam, and throws over the whole scene a halo of mystic undefined light that we do not try to desecrate with a wordy description, we come back to French villas and studios, and wonder at the power of art to produce so many, so varied, and so charmingly realistic effects with an etching needle.' 20

20: 'Mr Whistler's Paintings', Baltimore Gazette, after 1 April 1876, in GUL PC1/75; partially quoting E.D. Wallace, 'The Fine Arts Abroad', Forney's Weekly Press, Philadelphia, 1 April 1876.

Similarly, H. Stewart Cundell cited it among the 'exceptionally fine plates ... with its admirable chiaroscuro' in the 'scanty collection of modern etchings in the British Museum.' 21

21: 'English Etching', The Standard, London, 25 April 1878, p. 2 (GUL PC1/94).

Impression: K0190302
It is possible that one impression of the second state, reproduced above, was owned by an extremely important print-maker, Jules-Ferdinand Jacquemart (1837-1880), and later by the influential collectorHoward Mansfield (1849-1938), and eventually acquired by Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913), who left it to the Art Institute of Chicago (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190302). It is possible that this was the impression once owned by Philippe Burty (1830-1890), but it does not bear Burty's collector's mark. In April 1876 Burty's collection was exhibited by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) in the print-shop of Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) in the Haymarket, London, prior to its auction at Sotheby's. Wedmore's review specifically mentions this etching:
'One had better enquire what it is that the artist has done best - in what has he reached satisfactory and accomplished expression? His work is without the poetical feeling of Mr Haden, who could make a little poem out of the simple materials of Egham lock; but it is for the most part a strange realism, persuading one that it is accurate; and the absence of anything approaching to atmospheric effect - to gradations of distance - is true enough to Mr Whistler's favourite Thames-side haunts, Wapping and Rotherhithe in a thick and dampened air. That Mr Whistler is not actually insensible to the effects of vivid light and sombre shade which charmed Mèryon and for the most part were mastered by him, is shown in several prints; notably in the Street at Saverne, an immensely clever effect of lamplight (No. 732 in the collection under notice).' 22

22: F. Wedmore, 'M. Burty's collection', The Academy , 29 April 1876, pp. 414-15.

Despite this write-up, at the auction, an impression of the 'first undescribed state, before printer's address with sky and ground work of the street in drypoint' was bought by the print dealer, Hogarth, for £1.2.0 and another 'on light China paper' by Thibaudeau for only £0.12.0. 23

23: Sotheby's, 30 April 1876 (lots 732, 733).

At auction, print dealers were the principal buyers. At the sale of the collection of John W. Wilson (dates unknown) in 1887 an 'early impression' was bought by Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) for £4.4.0 (with another lot) and on the following day, 'Saverne - Night scene' went to Wunderlich's for £0.10.0. At a major sale, that of the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby's in 1892 one was bought by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £2.4.0. 24 In the same month a more unusual impression, the 'first undescribed state, before printer's address' owned by William Drake (1817-1890) was sold at Christie's to Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) for £5.10.0. 25

About this time the whole set could be bought for only a little more - for instance, at Christie’s on 31 July 1894 (lot 8) 'a set of twelve' went to Colnaghi's for £6.0.0.

24: Sotheby's, 22-23 April 1887 (lots 173, 174; 398); 3 March 1892 (lot 54).

25: 8-9 March 1892 (lot 337).

Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) acquired impressions of the first and third states of Street at Saverne (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190201, Graphic with a link to impression #K0190426), as did Haden (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190202, Graphic with a link to impression #K0190403). Both of Haden's etchings were bought from H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, through Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in November 1898.
In 1897 a third state impression from the collection of Henry F. Sewall (1816-1896) was bought by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190409). Albert Henry Wiggin (1868-1951) acquired a rather more dramatic impression for Boston Public Library (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190427). A dark final state was sold by Edmond Gosselin (1849-1917) on 1 February 1902 to the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin for 100 frs (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190504). The Albertina, Vienna, bought a final state in 1906 from Kunsthandlung Emil Richter, Dresden (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190z10). Another was given by Atherton Curtis (1863-1944) to the Bibliothèque nationale de France (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190518).
Other early collectors included Charles Sydenham Haden (1822-1898) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190418); John Henry Wrenn (1841-1911) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190502); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190402); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190413, Graphic with a link to impression #K0190429); Ralph King (1855-1926) and his wife (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190z07); Herschel V. Jones (1861-1928) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190z12); George W. Davison (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190421); James A. McCallum (1862-1948) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190404); Otto Gutekunst (ca 1865-after 1939) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190408); Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190508); Walter Stanton Brewster (1872-1954) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190514); and Pauline Kohlsaat Palmer (1882-1956) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0190519).