Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 61
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 293 x 202 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right (3); replaced with new 'Whistler.' at lower right (4-final)
Inscribed: '1859 -' at lower right (3); replaced with new '1859.' at lower right (4-final)
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 14
Known impressions: 38
Catalogues: K.58; M.58; T.56; W.54
Impressions taken from this plate  (38)
Etching: PK058_01 (plate)
The copper plate was close in size to another plate used in Paris at this time, Isle de la Cité, Paris [63], and to many later plates. The plate has an uneven bevel, and the surface shows pitting at the upper left corner, plus oxidisation and pitting on the verso, and some stippling and various scratches that may be the beginnings of earlier compositions.
In 1872 an exhibition at the opening of the Guildhall Library and Museum of engraved portraits from the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) included portraits by Whistler, described as 'Nine portraits etched in copper - very rare - plates destroyed'. 21 Candidates for these nine portraits include Auguste Delâtre, Printer [28], Whistler with a hat [44], C. L. Drouet, Sculptor [35], Finette [61], Z. Astruc, Editor of 'L'Artiste' [36], Arthur Haden [66], Mr Mann [73], Riault (The Wood Engraver) [69] and Axenfeld [68]. Other possibilities include Greenwich Pensioner [40], Bibi Valentin [34], Bibi Lalouette [33] and Fumette standing [59].

21: Cat. nos. 960-68.

The copper plate of Finette could have been cancelled by 1872 and was certainly cancelled by the time of Whistler's bankruptcy. The cancelled plate was probably among those sold at Whistler's bankruptcy sale and published in a set of Cancelled Etchings by the Fine Art Society in 1879. It may then have been acquired by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892), and sold with his collection of 68 plates 'more or less scratched' at Sotheby's, 13 December 1889 (lot 786), which was bought by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £11.12.0.
After the first cancellation, the faint cancellation marks were removed, at least in part (Graphic with a link to impression #K0581002 ). At least two such impression from the cancelled plate were then worked over in pen and ink, very carefully, so that it looked more complete (Graphic with a link to impression #K0581003).
Curiously, in 1891, Whistler recorded the sale of '"Finette." Destroyed Plate' to Frederick Keppel (1845-1912), for £21.0.0. 22 This appears expensive for an impression from the cancelled plate (good impressions of early proofs were being sold for £8.8.0 to £10.10.0). However it was extremely unusual for Whistler to sell a cancelled copper plate so that it is unclear what was going on. Keppel does not appear to have received the plate itself because it was almost certainly among those acquired from Dunthorne by Whistler's sister-in-law Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), in exchange for lithographs. 23 The plate was given by Miss Philip to the University of Glasgow in 1935.

22: Whistler to F. Keppel, 13 May 1891, GUW #13068.

23: Note by R. Birnie Philip, inserted in the album, Hunterian Art Gallery.