Bibi Valentin

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 34
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 152 x 228 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower left
Inscribed: '1859.' at lower left
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 44
Catalogues: K.50; M.50; T.26; W.28
Impressions taken from this plate  (44)


The Fine Art Society, London, may have acquired the copper plate at Whistler's bankruptcy sale, and intended to publish it in a set of cancelled plates in 1879, but dropped it from the edition as generally circulated. One set includes an impression of the cancelled etching (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500z08) but it may have come from another source at a later date.


It was first exhibited with the travelling exhibition of the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in 1874. 8 Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent one to the Union League Club in New York in 1881 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500105). 9

Both Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (possibly Graphic with a link to impression #K0500202) and Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500203) lent impressions to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900. 10 Furthermore in 1904 Mansfield lent an ordinary impression and a counterproof (which has not been located) to the Boston Whistler Memorial show, and it was probably he who lent a similar combination to the Grolier Club exhibition in New York in the same year. 11

Impressions were also shown by print dealers, by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 - when one was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500103) - and 1903, and by Obach & Co. in London in 1903. 12

Impressions were then shown in the principal Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, in Paris and London in 1905. 13

8: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 485).

9: New York 1881 (cat. no. 42).

10: Chicago 1900 (cat. nos. 28, 28a).

11: Boston 1904 (cat. nos. 23, 24); New York 1904a (cat. nos. 30, 30c).

12: New York 1898 (cat. no. 27). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

13: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 28); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 304).


An early impression of the second state, still showing the marks of burnishing, was owned by George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500205). Another impression was bought in the 1870s by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500105). The British Museum acquired its second state from Percy Thomas (1846-1922) in 1872 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500207). 14 H. Stewart Cundell noted it as among 'remarkable works' in the 'scanty collection of modern etchings in the British Museum.' 15

14: B.M. Register of Purchases ... 1872.

15: Anon., [H. Stewart Cundell], 'English Etching', The Standard, London, 25 April 1878, p. 2 (GUL PC1/94).

At the sale of the collection of John W. Wilson (dates unknown) at Sotheby's, 23 April 1887 (lot 403) 'Bibi Valentine' [sic] '... brilliant impression, before the plate was cleaned' was bought by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) for £9.15.0; this is the highest price recorded for this etching. Other print dealers paid considerably less at auction.
Two impressions from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), sold in 1892, a 'trial proof, before the left hand was put in' and an impression of the second state 'with the left hand' which were bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst for £2.12.0 and £3.16.0 respectively. 16 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought Hutchinson's first state in May 1892 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500102). Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) had owned an early impression, which was also bought by Freer, in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500103) from Wunderlich's.

16: Sotheby’s, 3 March 1892 (lots 74 and 75).

Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. paid £3.15.0 for a second state from the collection of William Richard Drake (1817-1890), sold in 1892. 17 Keppel later gave one impression of the second state to the Whistler House Museum in Lowell, MA (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500232) and another to John W. Beatty, Jr, in May 1897 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500217). Finally he bequeathed one to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Graphic with a link to impression #K0500206). These may have been printed from the copper plate in the 1890s, when Keppel could have owned the plate.

17: Christie’s, 8-9 March 1892 (lot 295).