Sketches of Heads

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 138
Date: 1875
Medium: drypoint
Size: 155 x 230 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 18
Catalogues: K.104; M.101
Impressions taken from this plate  (18)


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


It was not exhibited in Whistler's lifetime, but was shown in the posthumous exhibitions at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, lent by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040102); and at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905. 9

9: New York 1904a (cat. no. 122); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 366).


Freer bought a cancelled set from F. Keppel & Co. in New York in 1893 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040203) and the unique uncancelled impression from H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040102). The cancelled impressions that have been located are almost all from, or still in, the album of cancelled plates. For instance, the British Museum bought an album in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040205). Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) also acquired a set in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040211) which later went to Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Boston Public Library likewise acquired a set (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040207). A set acquired by J. Littauer, Munich, was sold to the Hamburger Kunsthalle in 1896 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040208).
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. 10 Dunthorne exchanged it for other works with Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) who bequeathed it to the University of Glasgow (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040204). She acquired another set, trimmed the impressions and stuck them on the envelopes containing the copper plates (Graphic with a link to impression #K1040209).

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