J. Becquet, Sculptor

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 62
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 257 x 194 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 6
Known impressions: 96
Catalogues: K.52; M.52; T.54; W.48
Impressions taken from this plate  (96)


It was published as 'The Fiddler' in 1871 as part of A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on The Thames and other Subjects (the 'Thames Set').
This is one of two subjects that are not related to the Thames but were published with the 'Thames Set'.


It was first exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1863. F.G. Stephens was horrified to find that it had been badly hung: 'in the dismal Octagon Room are placed some of the exquisite dry-point productions of Mr. Whistler, whose fame the Royal Academy ignores' he wrote, adding that J. Becquet, sculptor 'broad as a Rembrandt, is down on the floor'. 23

23: The Athenaeum, 16 May 1863, p. 655.

Subsequently it was shown in Whistler's one-man exhibition in London in 1874, and with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in Liverpool and elsewhere in the same year. 24

24: London RA 1863 (cat. no. 990); London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 21); Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 474).

It was shown in exhibitions organised by private clubs: Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent a 'Trial Proof' to the Union League Club in New York in 1881 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520110). 25

Impressions also appeared in major public and international exhibitions. One was shown at the Glasgow International Exhibition, 1888, lent by Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924). 26 Others were shown in Cincinnati (1875), Glasgow (1879) and Philadelphia (1879 and 1902) and Buffalo (1901). 27 Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent one to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520303 or Graphic with a link to impression #K0520304). 28 Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent an impression to the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, the 1902 Philadelphia show, and to the Whistler Memorial show in Boston in 1904. 29

Print dealer's shows in New York also featured 'Becquet'; H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898 included an early impression that was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520103). 30 Another impression was shown at Wunderlich's in 1903, and one by Frederick Keppel & Co. in 1902.

Finally impressions were shown in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, including two shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, one in the Boston Memorial in 1904 (as mentioned above), and one from the Royal Collection in London in 1905. 31

25: New York 1881 (cat. no. 69).

26: Glasgow 1888 (cat. no. 2552-16)


28: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 46).

29: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2221); Philadelphia 1902; Boston 1904 (cat. no. 42),

30: New York 1898 (cat. no. 45).

31: New York 1904a (cat. no. 50); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 48).


A cut down impression of the first state was among the first group of Whistler's etchings to be sold to a public collection. It was among 16 etchings sold for a total of £10.10.10 by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) to South Kensington Museum on 1 January 1861 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520107). 32 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought an early impression formerly owned by Haden and William Drake (1817-1890) from F. Keppel & Co. in 1892 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520102). Other Haden impressions were sold through H. Wunderlich & Co. to Freer in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520103, Graphic with a link to impression #K0520306). Freer bought a later impression from Keppel's in 1892, which had come from the sale of the collection of Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520305) and another in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520402). The latter was inscribed by Becquet himself.

In April 1876 the collection of Philippe Burty (1830-1890) was exhibited by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) in the print-shop of Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) in Haymarket, London, prior to its auction. It included an early impression of J. Becquet, Sculptor (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520105). 33 Wedmore's review specifically mentions this drypoint:

32: V&A Register of Prints, p. 32.

33: Sotheby's. 1 May 1876 (lot 925) bought by 'Heywood'.

'Mr. Whistler, in some of the Thames-side etchings - abounding in M. Burty's collection - has reached a certain grim and every-day reality, which the imaginative artist [Mèryon] did not seek for first, since he made the ugliness of the Morgue surroundings visibly tragic, and the beams of the Pompe beautiful .... Mr Burty's cabinet is richer, undoubtedly in Whistlers than in Hadens, for not only is his collection large, but it abounds in splendid impressions of the rarest states of the plates; some are indeed unique, such as the Violin-cello Player (No. 925) ... But mere rarity is not to be much regarded. One had better enquire what it is that the artist has done best - in what has he reached satisfactory and accomplished expression?' 34

34: F. Wedmore, 'M. Burty's collection', The Academy , 29 April 1876, pp. 414-415.

Public collections that acquired J. Becquet, Sculptor included South Kensington Museum (now the V&A), which bought a 'Thames Set' from Ellis & Green in 1871 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520331), and the British Museum in 1874 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520310). Constantine Alexander Ionides (1833-1900) bequeathed a set to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1901 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520332). The Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, bought a late impression from the Kunstsalon Ernst Arnold in Dresden in 1901 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520410). The Bibliothèque nationale de France bought one, probably from Keppel, in 1903 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520315); and 15 etchings including the portrait of Becquet were purchased by the Trustees of the Public Picture Gallery Fund for Birmingham City Art Gallery in 1904 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520418).
British collectors included James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1888) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520z04); James Smith (1831-1923) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520320); and Guy John Fenton Knowles (1879-1959) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520z10). At auction, an 'early proof on Japanese paper' from the collection of Arthur Thomas (dates unknown) was sold in 1873 to Colnaghi's for £2.17.0. 35 At the William Drake (1817-1890) sale in 1892 Keppel bought a 'trial impression, head only' for £1.4.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520102). 36 A year later, at Christie's, an impression originally owned by Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892) was sold on 24 February 1893 (lot 194) to the London print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851), and another, from the collection of T. E. Crawhall of Condercum, Newcastle-on-Tyne, was bought, again by Keppel, on 14 March 1893 (lot 114) for only £0.18.0.

35: Sotheby's, 23 June 1873 (lot 126).

36: Christie's, 8-9 March 1892 (lot 293).

In France, purchasers included Alfred Beurdeley (1847-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520324); and probably the American print dealers Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), buying about 1875 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520110, Graphic with a link to impression #K0520201, Graphic with a link to impression #K0520415) and George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520308). Other early American collectors included Henry F. Sewall (1816-1896) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520309); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916), by 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520303, Graphic with a link to impression #K0520304); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520409); Joseph Pennell (1860-1926) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520413); Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520319); and Albert Henry Wiggin (1868-1951) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0520405).