The Music Room

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 39
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 147 x 217 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 54
Catalogues: K.33; M.31; T.22; W.26
Impressions taken from this plate  (54)


The Music Room was not published.


It was exhibited rather less than might have been expected for a work of this complexity, possibly because the subject was Whistler's family and a friend, and the personal associations were not all pleasant. However, it did appear in exhibitions in the U.S.A., with Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lending a 'Trial proof; done in 1859' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330101) and another impression, with 'Very much work added' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330210) to the Union League Club show of 1881 in New York. 7

7: New York 1881 (cat. no. 39-40).

Later exhibitions include an international show at Leipzig in 1895, and an exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, to which one was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330202) 8 Impressions were on sale at print dealers' shows in New York, at H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898 and 1903, and in London at Obach & Co. in 1903.

8: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 26); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

It also appeared in the Memorial Exhibitions in New York, London and Paris after Whistler's death. An impression from the Royal Collection, shown in the London Memorial of 1905, was sold shortly afterwards, and exhibited a few year's later at a New York dealer's, by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) in 1909. 9

9: New York 1904a (cat. no. 28); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 26); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. ?).


A fine, bold impression of the first state was given by Whistler to Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), and then by Haden to Philippe Burty (1830-1890) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330104). Haden also owned a fairly heavily inked impression of the second state, which was bought from H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, through Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in November 1898 and later bequeathed to the Freer Gallery of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330203).
Two impressions of the first state, one lightly inked (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330114) and one much darker (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330113), and a selectively wiped impression of the second state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330223) were sold to the British Museum by Percy Thomas (1846-1922) on 13 July 1872. 10 Arthur Haythorne Studd (1863-1919) bequeathed a rather murky impression of the second state to the same Museum in 1929 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330224).

A dark and dramatic impression of the first state was given by William Loring Andrews (1837-1927) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1883 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330107). An impression with much lighter plate tone was given by Gardiner Greene Hubbard (1822-1897) to the Library of Congress, Washington, DC in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330222). Another dark, atmospheric impression was sold by Obach & Co. to the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, in 1902, for £9.0.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330116). A darkened first state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330101) and a rich impression of the second state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330210), so dark as to obscure some details, were owned by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), and passed with his collection to New York Public Library.

10: B.M. Print Room Register of Purchases... 1872.

At auction, prices were comparatively low, varying between £0.10.0 and £4.4.0. At Christie’s in 1881 a 'fine impression, on greenish paper' described as 'Signed in pencil ""Whistler" ' did not even make the reserve of £1.9.0. 11

11: 23 March 1881 (lot 189).

Messrs Dowdeswell bought a first state at the John W. Wilson (dates unknown) sale at Sotheby's in 1887 for the top price of £4.4.0 and a signed second state for £3.3.0. A print from the collection of George William Reid (1819-1887) sold for £1.6.0 to 'Harrrington', probably Henry Nazeby Harrington (1862-1937), in 1890; and in 1896, another impression was bought by E. Parsons, for only £0.13.0. 12

At the Sotheby's sale of the important collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) in 1892, a heavily inked 'first state' fetched only £0.10.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0330106); it was later acquired by Ernest Stephen Lumsden (1883-1968), whose widow sold it to the National Gallery of Scotland. 13

12: Sotheby's, 22-3 April 1887 (lots 180, 401); 28 February 1890 (lot 477); 15 December 1896 (lot 267).

13: 3 March 1892 (lot 72) bought by 'Russell'.