Gretchen at Heidelberg

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 21
Date: 1858
Medium: etching
Size: 205 x 156 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 4
Catalogues: K.20; M.20; T.33; W.12
Impressions taken from this plate  (4)


Gretchen at Heidelberg was never published.


In 1874 Thomas remarked: 'The only copy I have seen of this is in the possession of Mr Avery.' 14 In 1881 this was exhibited at the Union League Club in New York as 'GRETCHEN - HEIDELBERG'. The only impression' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0200101). 15 In 1889 Wedmore commented: 'Mr Avery believes that his is the only impression.' 16 However, this was incorrect.

In 1888 Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) lent an impression to the Glasgow International Exhibition (Graphic with a link to impression #K0200103). 17 Another was shown in a print dealer's show, by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898, when it was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0200101). 18 Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent one to an exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0200104), and also to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in Boston in 1904. 19

Another impression was shown at the London Memorial Exhibition in 1905, but it is not known who lent this, since by that date all known impressions were in American collections. 20

14: Thomas 1874 (cat. no. 33).

15: New York 1881 (cat. no. 17); see REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

16: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 12).

17: Glasgow 1888 (cat. no. 2552-19)

18: Glasgow 1888 (cat. no. 2552); New York 1898 (cat. no. 11).

19: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 12); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 7).

20: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 12).


Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), bought what he believed to be the sole impression, which was signed and inscribed by Whistler in the early 1870s (Graphic with a link to impression #K0200101); it eventually came with the rest of his collection to the New York Public Library. In Scotland, the collector Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) sold an impression through H. Wunderlich & Co. of New York in 1902 for $420 to George Washington Vanderbilt (1862-1914), and in due course this was sold at auction in New York in 1974, and returned to Scotland, to rejoin the Whistler collection in the Hunterian Art Gallery (Graphic with a link to impression #K0200103).
In 1909 Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) mentioned impressions owned by himself (Graphic with a link to impression #K0200104) and Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0200101). Freer's impression came originally from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) and was bought by Freer from Wunderlich's in 1898. Both these impressions ended up in Washington, the first given by Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) to the National Gallery of Art, and the second by Freer to the Freer Gallery of Art.