The Miser

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 17
Date: 1858/1859
Medium: drypoint
Size: 120 x 161 mm
Signed: 'Whistler -' at lower left (7)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 12
Catalogues: K.69; M.69; T.62; W.65
Impressions taken from this plate  (12)


The Miser was never published, although it may have been considered for publication in the 'Cancelled Set'.


An impression was shown in Whistler's one-man show in London in 1874, and was praised by the critic of The Builder : '"The Parasol," "The Miser," and the "Old Farm" may be mentioned as showing genius and interest.' 12 The Miser was also exhibited in Liverpool and other northern cities in a travelling exhibition of the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690402). 13 Later it was shown to collectors and connoisseurs at the Union League Club in New York, lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) in 1881. 14

Impressions also appeared in print dealer's shows, particularly at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York, where three different states were shown in 1898, and, on the advice of Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690102, Graphic with a link to impression #K0690302, Graphic with a link to impression #K0690502). 15 Freer then lent one of these to the exhibition organised in 1900 by the Caxton Club, Chicago. 16

After Whistler's death, impressions were exhibited in the principal Memorial Exhibitions including the Grolier Club in New York (five impressions, two of which were lent by Freer) and by the Copley Society in Boston in 1904. 17 One was lent by the Board of Education to the Whistler Memorial show in London in 1905. 18 This was probably the bold impression in black ink on ivory laid paper, now in the V&A, and reproduced below (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690304).

12: 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', The Builder, 5 July 1874 (in GUL PC1/73). London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 48)

13: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 524).

14: New York 1881 (cat. no. 92).

15: New York 1898 (cat. no. 62). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

16: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 60).

17: New York 1904a (cat. no. 67); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 60)

18: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 65).

Impression: K0690304


A fine third state, with strong 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 (now the V&A) on 1 January 1861 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690304). 19

Considering the quality of the drypoint, and its comparitive rarity, prices were surprisingly low. Whistler sold what he called a '2nd state', which is actually a fifth state, to the British Museum in 1863 for £1.1.0. 20 Wedmore later described it as 'a luminous impression' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690503); he also noted that 'Mr Heywood bought for [£1.1.0] at the Burty Sale a proof of this rare dry-point, before the signature and before some work on the left.' 21

This fine impression from the collection of Philippe Burty (1830-1890), sold at Sotheby's on 1 May 1876 (lot 928) described as 'A Room', 'undescribed with the artist's signature on Japan paper, and before the work on the left, probably unique'. It was bought by Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), and was one of two impressions described as 'trial proof[s]' sold after his death, and bought from Sotheby's on 3 March 1892 (lots 116-7) by the print dealers Deprez & Gutekunst for £5.5.0 and £2.5.0. It was bought immediately by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690103). With his typical obsessiveness, Freer bought several more impressions, all originally from the Haden collection, from H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898: a richly inked second state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690102), a more restrained fourth state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690302) and a final state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690502).

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

20: Whistler to W. H. Carpenter, 3 August 1863, GUW #11109.

21: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 65).

Other early collectors included James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) followed by Henry Nazeby Harrington (1862-1937), Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935) and Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690402); Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690201); George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0690403); from these distinguished collections the drypoints went to the National Gallery of Art, New York Public Library and Baltimore Museum of Art.