Impression: New York Public Library
New York Public Library
Number: 87
Date: 1861
Medium: drypoint
Size: 227 x 152 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1861.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 25
Catalogues: K.77; M.77; T.60; W.64
Impressions taken from this plate  (25)


It was published in an album of Cancelled Plates ('Cancelled Set') by The Fine Art Society, London, 1879 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770202, Graphic with a link to impression #K0770204).


It was first exhibited with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in a travelling show in Liverpool and elsewhere in 1874 as 'Head of a Female'. 6 In 1881, impressions were lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) to the Union League Club in New York as '“Joe” Head of a female; rare.' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770101) and 'The plate destroyed.' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770210) 7

. It was shown at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898, at which time an impression was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770102). 8 Another impression was lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) to the show organised by the Caxton Club, Chicago in 1900 and to a major loan exhibition in Philadelphia in 1902 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770103). 9

After Whistler's death, Mansfield again lent his impression to the Boston Memorial in 1904, and another impression was shown at the Memorial exhibition in London in 1905. 10

6: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 522). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

7: New York 1881 (cat. no. 91).

8: New York 1898 (cat. no. 61).

9: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 59); Philadelphia 1902 (cat. no. 947 (064)).

10: Boston 1904 (cat. no. 57); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 64).


As Wedmore said, 'Very few impressions of what would have been quite a favourite subject had been taken when the plate was destroyed.' 11 One of the limited number of impressions was destroyed in a fire, according to the Glasgow Herald, in 1890:

11: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 64).

'More choice pictures were destroyed by fire yesterday in the residence of Mr. George Bramhall, at Orange, New Jersey, who owned the rarest collection of etchings in the country, worth £100, 000. A portfolio of them valued at £4000, was burned among them being the largest and most complete collection of the etchings by Whistler in the country ... and a proof of Whistler's ''Joe [sic]'', which was one of only two copies in existence.' 12

12: Glasgow Herald, 6 May 1890.

In fact only four uncancelled impressions have been located in public collections (i.e. Graphic with a link to impression #K0770102). Whistler himself thought the drypoint was valuable partly because of its rarity. In a letter written to Joseph Pennell (1860-1926) he compared the possible price to that of The Forge [86]:
'I wish you would find out - perhaps from Dunthorne or Dowdeswell - or better perhaps Browne (F.A.S.) what is a proof of the "Forge" - the large drypoint - ought to be worth - It is of course of the greatest rarity - and I could not easily find out for myself - Have they given thirty or forty [gns?] - Is it worth as much or more than the "Jo"? -' 13

13: [13 March 1894], GUW #07787.

Presumably a recent sale of Jo had reached a notably high price, but unfortunately this has not been identified.
According to Howard Mansfield (1849-1938), impressions of Jo were to be found in 1909 in the 'Avery, Freer, Howe, and Mansfield Collections'. 14 The one owned by Mansfield (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770103) passed to Harris G. Whittemore (d. ca 1937) and was eventually given by Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

14: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 77).

Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) owned a battered impression - probably a proof - that had been torn in half, with only the top half surviving (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770105) as well as a striking impression of the first state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770101). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) acquired one that was originally from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), from Wunderlich's in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770102).
Sets including the cancelled impression of Jo were bought by several collectors. George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) bought a set, which passed eventually to the Baltimore Museum of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770204). The British Museum acquired a set in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770205). Another set sold at the Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) sale, Sotheby's, London, 13 December 1889 (lot 787 or 789), and was bought by another print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £0.6.0; it was later acquired in exchange for other artworks by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), who bequeathed it to the University of Glasgow in 1958 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770202). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought a set from Knoedler & Co. in 1893 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0770201).