Whistler with a hat

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 44
Date: 1859
Medium: drypoint
Size: 229 x 154 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1859.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 36
Catalogues: K.54; M.54; T.65; W.52
Impressions taken from this plate  (36)


It was published in an album of Cancelled Plates ('Cancelled Set') by The Fine Art Society, London, 1879.


It was first shown with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in the Guildhall, London, in 1872, and then in a travelling exhibition of his collection in Liverpool and elsewhere (Birmingham, Southampton etc.) in 1874. 15

Later, examples were shown in exhibitions organised by private clubs such as the Union League Club in New York - a 'Trial proof' lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540107) - and the Caxton Club in Chicago, lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540202). 16

Impressions also starred in international exhibitions, including the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, lent by Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), as well as Glasgow in 1901, lent by James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901), and Philadelphia in 1902, lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540108). 17

Several print dealer's shows included important impressions from major collections. For instance, impressions of both the first and second states from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) were shown by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and bought, with the advice of Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0450103, Graphic with a link to impression #K0540203). 18

Finally, impressions were shown in the principal Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, including New York and Boston in 1904, and - lent by James Thomas Knowles (1831-1908) - in the London Memorial show in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540207, Graphic with a link to impression #K0540207). 19

15: A Collection of Engraved Portraits ..., Guildhall, London, 1872 (959); Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 471).

16: New York 1881 (cat. no. 73); Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 48).

17: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2225); Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 230); Philadelphia 1902 (cat. no. 47 (52)).

18: New York 1898 (cat. no. 49; see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

19: Boston 1904 (cat. no. 46); New York 1904a (cat. no. 54); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 52).


A fine impression with soft, velvety burr 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 #K0540206). 20

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

Whistler gave some impressions to family and friends. For instance, he gave a fine print on Japanese paper to his mother, but this was apparently folded up for safe keeping, which did not improve its condition. Later, presumably after her death, it was acquired by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540110). Another impression was probably given to a fellow artist, and also may have been acquired by Avery, and returned to Whistler for signature in the early 1870s (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540107). This may have been the impression Whistler mentioned to Fantin-Latour:
'... quel est le portrait de moi que tu dis Valentin a vendu à cet étranger? ... Je me demande si ce n'était qu'une pointe seche qui j'avais fait dans le temps et dont j'aurais peutêtre donné une épreuve à Valentin.' (Translation: 'what is the portrait of me that you say Valentin has sold to this stranger? ... I wonder if it was only a drypoint that I had done a long time ago and of which perhaps I gave a proof to Valentin'). 21

21: Whistler to H. Fantin Latour, [August 1872], GUW #08041.

In 1872, the British Museum acquired a good early impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540105). H. Stewart Cundell commented:
'Of all artists who in recent years have expressed themselves with the [etching] point, no one has done so more successfully then Mr Whistler. His theory of etching we take to be that a man should put his thoughts upon copper just as he would upon canvas, should paint, in fact, with the etching needle, with a deliberate choice of that method of expression. Some of his first works may be seen in the scanty collection of modern etchings in the British Museum. Among them ... A characteristic likeness of himself and a most vigorous head of M. Riault show what etching can do in the way of portraiture.' 22

22: 'English Etching', The Standard, London, 25 April 1878, p. 2 (GUL PC1/94).

Later in the decade, as a result of the Ruskin trial, Whistler's fame grew in his native land. On 2 January 1879 Avery wrote:
'I have been saving up the enclosed few slips (of the many) which have appeared upon your "case" which has created an unusual stir even here, and although I cannot say that I could sell a 'nocturne' or so at 200 gs. ... I notice that when I put some of your etchings at the clubs, more than the usual number of heads gather around them, and I have had two applications (Boston & Phila[delphia]) to loan your portrait with the hat, while no one has asked for Ruskins hat, or even his head!' 23

23: S. P. Avery to Whistler, 2 January [1879], GUW #00218.

A 'very fine early impression, rare' of 'Whistler's own Portrait' from the collection of John W. Wilson (dates unknown), was bought at auction in 1887 by the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) for £22.0.0. 24 Later in that same year, Whistler bought back some of his own early etchings to resell, and at that time, Edmond Gosselin (1849-1917), wrote to the artist regarding a French collector:

24: Sotheby's, 22 April 1887 (lot 195).

'J'ai écrit à un de mes amateurs auquel j'avais vendu beaucoup d'eaux-fortes modernes, dans lesquelles il y a une magnifique épr[euve]. de votre portrait dit au grand chapeau. Si j'ai la chance de réussir, je vous en ferai part. (épr. sur Japon très-belle)'
Translation: 'I have written to one of my amateurs to whom I have sold many modern etchings, amongst which there is a magnificent print of your portrait called with the big hat. If I am lucky enough to succeed, I shall inform you. (very beautiful print on Japanese paper)' - or, '(proof on very beautiful Japanese paper)'. 25

In 1892, one 'trial proof' from the collection of Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), was bought after his death for £15.10.0 by the print dealers Deprez & Gutekunst, and a second for only £6.0.0. by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. 26 It is possible that the latter was the impression that Keppel still owned in 1928, and which passed to Boston Public Library (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540209).

Whistler with a hat is perhaps the most attractive and definitive of Whistler's etched portraits. It is clear that what at first was considered a good, representative portrait that friends and family could keep as a memento, became much sought after and exhibited by major collectors and collections. Avery's impressions were given to New York Public Library, to help form the basis for their Print Department, while Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), bought impressions of three different states, a cancelled state from Knoedler & Co. in 1893 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540301), and two earlier states in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540103, Graphic with a link to impression #K0540203), which were bequeathed to the Freer Gallery of Art in 1919.

25: E. Gosselin to Whistler, 22 October 1887, GUW #01768.

Surviving impressions from the cancelled plate are often in the album as published in 1879. For instance, the British Museum bought an album in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540304), as did Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907)(Graphic with a link to impression #K0540310). George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) bought a set (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540303) and Boston Public Library also acquired a set (Graphic with a link to impression #). Finally, a set acquired by J. Littauer, Munich was sold to the Hamburger Kunsthalle in 1896 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540307).
Prices were low but collectors and collections were keen to have the set of cancelled etchings, as a record of a substantial number of otherwise unrecorded etchings and drypoints. A set, probably acquired from the Fine Art Society by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892), was auctioned in 1889 and bought by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £0.6.0. 27 Dunthorne exchanged it for other works with Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) who bequeathed it to the University of Glasgow (see Graphic with a link to impression #K0540302). She also had a second set of the cancelled etchings, which were trimmed to fit the envelopes containing the cancelled etching plates; this helped to identify the plates but not to preserve the etchings (Graphic with a link to impression #K0540308).

27: Sotheby's, London, 13 December 1889 (lot 787 or 789)