La Marchande de Moutarde

Impression: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Number: 20
Date: 1858
Medium: etching
Size: 157 x 90 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower left
Inscribed: 'Imp. Delatre. Rue St. Jacques. 171.' (2-3); crossed out (4); removed (5)
Set/Publication: 'French Set', 1858
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 75
Catalogues: K.22; M.22; T.11; W.16
Impressions taken from this plate  (75)


It was published as La Marchande de Moutarde in Douze eaux-fortes d'après Nature (Twelve Etchings from Nature, the 'French Set') in 1858. Impressions in the second, third and fourth state all bear the address of the printer, Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907) but it is crossed out in the latter.
Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921) gave details of the later publication:
'in 1886 the Editor of English Etchings bought the plate, and added an issue of two hundred copies to the very small number of fine impressions originally taken. His two hundred were printed on old Whatman paper of 1814, and Goulding printed for him, very carefully, a few impressions on old Dutch paper of the seventeenth century.' 11
The printer of this edition, in the fifth state of the etching, was Frederick Goulding (1842-1909). The edition was published in 1888, when E. Holmes-May wrote:
'After lying perdu for a considerable period, this exquisite plate has come into our possession and we have much pleasure in being able to place before our Subscribers, such a notable example of Whistler's work. In Hamerton's ''Etching and Etchers'', it is one of those selected and specially recommended to the collector and student ... Mr Hamerton says : - ''It is unfortunate, I think, ... A hundred copies of a publication can do but little for the fame of its author, a thousand might do something.'' It will be observed that in ''La Marchande de Moutarde'' there is nothing of the peculiarity, which marks the later work of Mr WHISTLER. It is careful and deliberate, and possesses many charms of technique which all must admire - but which only those who are familiar with the difficulties of point and veil, can fully appreciate. A few of the proofs first taken from this plate after its acquisition, can be obtained on application to the Editor. Price, mounted and Post free, 10s 6d.' 12

12: English Etchings by English Artists and Essays relating to the art, ed. W. Holmes May, London, part 67, 1888.

Whistler may not have appreciated a reference to 'peculiarity'! The Academy commented that the plate was 'still in serviceable and excellent condition ... first printed by Delatre. It was supposed to be issued in 1859; but very few copies even reached the print-buying public'. 13

13: 30 October 1886, pp. 299-300.


Since La Marchande de Moutarde had been published, exhibited and republished, this became well-known. It was first exhibited at the Salon in 1859 as 'La marchande de moutarde (Cologne)'. 14 It was then shown in an exhibition of the work of contemporary artists at The Hague in 1863. 15

After its exhibitions in Paris and The Hague, it was shown in Whistler's one-man show in London in 1874. 16 In an 1874 review it was related both to the work of Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn (1617-1681), and to French language and culture:

14: Paris Salon 1859 (cat. no. 3673).


16: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 40).

'Among the etchings proper the small highly-finished "La Vielle aux Loquecs" [sic] is in power of composition and light and shade, like a Rembrandt on a small scale; and of kindred excellence is the little work "La Marchande de Moutarde" (40: French, we observe, seems to be taking place as a kind of artists' language among us, and not unworthily)'. 17

17: 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', The Builder, 5 July 1874 (in GUL PC1/73).

Another impression travelled in a touring show to Liverpool with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in the same year. 18 It was seen by the public in international exhibitions, such as those in Cincinnati in 1875 and Philadelphia in 1879, and in private clubs, for connoisseurs and collectors. Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent one to the Union League Club, New York in 1881 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220301). 19 An early impression, 'before the address of the printer' Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907), was shown at the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1888, lent by Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220102). It was also mistakenly titled 'La Marchande de Montarde' in the catalogue. 20 Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) also lent one to the Caxton Club, Chicago, in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220302). 21

Impressions also appeared in print dealer's shows, particularly at H. Wunderlich & Co. (1898, 1903) and F. Keppel & Co. (1902) in New York, and Obach & Co. in London (1903), including first and second states shown in New York and London in 1903. Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought an impression of the second state from the 1898 show (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220202).

18: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 511).

19: New York 1881 (cat. no. 24).

20: Glasgow 1888 (cat. no. 2552-10)

21: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 16).

Finally, it was exhibited after Whistler's death in the comprehensive Memorial Exhibitions in Boston - lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) - and New York in 1904, and in the following year, in Paris and - lent by King Edward VII - in London. 22

22: Boston 1904 (cat. no. 10); New York 1904a (cat. no. 17);London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 16); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 297).


Whistler was aided by his family in selling the 'French Set.' Thomas de Kay Winans (1820-1878) bought Whistler's etchings including La Marchande de Moutarde (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220320) 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'. 23 The set was given by Winans's descendants to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

23: 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 La Marchande de Moutarde (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220314). 24 In 1904, the museum bought an impression as published in English Etchings from the London dealer E. Parsons (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220508).

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

Among Whistler's early collectors was Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220301). Whistler himself bought back an impression of La Marchande de Moutarde from Edmond Gosselin (1849-1917), in 1888 for 80 francs, presumably with the aim of re-selling it. 25

25: 28 December 1888, GUW #13076.

Prices varied quite considerably during Whistler's lifetime, from £.1.10.0 for a print from the collection of Philippe Burty (1830-1890) in 1876 to £6.13.0 for 'first state, rare' paid by the art dealers, Messrs Dowdeswell in 1896. An impression listed as 'first state' was bought after the death of Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), for £4.10.0, and a 'second state' for £0.16.0 by the London print dealer, Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851), in 1892. 26

The etching was also, of course, sold with the 'French Set'; for instance, a complete set was bought by Colnaghi's in 1894 for £6.0.0. 27 A single impression was sold at the J.M. Gray sale in November 1894 for £1.12.0. 28 The Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, paid far more - £9.10.0 - for an impression bought from Obach & Co. in 1902 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220207).

26: Sotheby's, 30 April 1876 (lot 740); 15 December 1896 (lot 263); and 3 March 1892 (lots 59-60); Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 16).

27: Christie's, 31 July 1894 (lot 8).

28: 'J.M. Gray sale', The Academy, 17 November 1894, p. 405.

Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought an impression of the second state from from Wunderlich's in 1891 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220203) and another, that had come from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220202). There was very little dfference between them except that one was on cream and the other on ivory laid paper.
Other early collectors included Charles Sydenham Haden (1822-1898) and Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220209); Jean-Louis-Henri Le Secq (1818-1882) and Atherton Curtis (1863-1944) in Paris (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220206); Guy John Fenton Knowles (1879-1959) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220402, Graphic with a link to impression #K0220305); and Henry Nazeby Harrington (1862-1937) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220105). From Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) and Ernest Stephen Lumsden (1883-1968) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220306) and from Thomas Barclay (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220403) impressions went to the Scottish National Gallery, from Arthur Haythorne Studd (1863-1919), to the British Museum (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220308). A second state from the Royal Collection was sold through Agnew's and went first to Theodore de Witt (dates unknown) and later to Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) who gave it to the National Gallery of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220312). Likewise, two impressions went from the Glasgow collector Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) to Albert W. Scholle (1860-1917) and Rosenwald, and thence to the National Gallery (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220102, Graphic with a link to impression #K0220204).
In America, collectors included Henry F. Sewall (1816-1896) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220211); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220315, Graphic with a link to impression #K0220516); Alfred Atmore Pope (1842-1913) and his daughter Theodate Pope (1867-1946) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220z14);Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220302); Charles Deering (1852-1927) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220502); Ralph King (1855-1926) and his wife (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220z05), and Albert Henry Wiggin (1868-1951) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0220213). In due course Boston Public Library, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hill-Stead Museum, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Museum of Art and other major collections benefitted from these collectors' generosity.