The Velvet Dress (Mrs Leyland)

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 120
Date: 1873/1874
Medium: drypoint
Size: 232 x 157 mm
Signed: butterfly at left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 17
Catalogues: K.105; M.105; T.76; W.91
Impressions taken from this plate  (17)


The Velvet Dress was never published.


It was first shown as one of several drypoints all called 'Portrait' in Whistler's one-man exhibition in London in 1874, and as a 'Portrait of a Lady' in a touring exhibition of the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in the north of England in the same year (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050302). 10

Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent what he called a 'Trial Proof' - a beautiful impression of a late state - to the Union League Club in New York in 1881 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050411). 11

The different states fascinated collectors, who vied for fine impressions and were generous in lending them - which had didactic, economic, and prestigious benefits for the collectors. Two states were lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050402) and a third by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) to an exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900. 12 Mansfield's impressions have not been located.

10: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. nos. 6, 22, 24, 25, 27, 30, 32, 33, 35, 36 or 50); Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 479).

11: New York 1881 (cat. no. 123). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

12: Chicago 1900 (cat. nos. 86, 86a).

Impressions were for sale in exhibitions by print dealers including H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 (described as a 'First state') and 1903 ('1st' and '2nd' states), and one at Obach & Co. in London in 1903 (possibly Graphic with a link to impression #K1050501). 13


Impressions were then shown in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, including three states shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and three lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) to the Boston Memorial, also in 1904. 14 One was shown in Paris in 1905, one lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) to the London Memorial Exhibition in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050409), and another by John Charles Sigismund Day (1826-1908) to an exhibition in Rotterdam in 1906 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050408). 15

14: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 95, 95b, 95c); Boston 1904 (cat. nos. 72, 73, 74).

15: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 91); Rotterdam 1906 (cat. no. 75).


Whistler sold an impression to the London print dealers, Messrs Dowdeswell for £5.5.0 on 28 April 1887. 16 This may have been an impression of the final state, signed by Whistler in 1886 or 1887, which was sold in 1904 by Obach & Co. in London to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) for £173.5.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050501). Freer had already, in 1889, bought an impression of the first state from Frederick Keppel & Co. (Graphic with a link to impression #K1010102).

16: GUW #13020.

An impression from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) was sold at Sotheby’s, 3 March 1892 (lot 143) and bought by 'Soames' for the good price of £10.0.0.
Other early collectors included William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050202); James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) and Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050302) - this was later bought by Freer; John Charles Sigismund Day (1826-1908) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050408), Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050411); Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050303); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050402); and Emma Regina Martin (1921-2009) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1050305).