Elinor Leyland

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 137
Date: 1874
Medium: drypoint
Size: 214 x 139 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 8
Known impressions: 30
Catalogues: K.109; M.108; T.78; W.95
Impressions taken from this plate  (30)


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


Elinor Leyland was first exhibited in Whistler's one-man show in London in 1874. 11 An American critic, correspondent of the Tribune, wrote: 'the portraits of the young Misses Layland [sic] are brilliant examples of Mr. Whistler's power.' 12 One of the portraits of the Leyland girls was praised by a critic: 'The portrait of the "Little Girl" (36), by the same process [drypoint], has remarkable freedom of pose and brightness of expression.' 13 An impression was also shown in the travelling exhibition of the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in the same year (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090302). 14

The drypoint may have been among recent etchings by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), Charles Jacque (1813-1894), Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), and others, exhibited by C. Silva White at his West George Street Galleries in Glasgow in 1881. A review in the Glasgow Herald refers to 'Miss Leyland's portrait' as follows:

11: London Pall Mall 1874.

12: 'Notes from London', 13 June 1874, unidentified press-cutting, GUL PC1/61.

13: 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', The Builder, 5 July 1874 (GUL PC1/73).

14: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 482); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

''The Millet series ... illustrate the charm of pathos with which the great Frenchman invests his patient and hopeless toilers. The simple directness of the art evades whatever is vulgar in work or sentiment ... ... Beside Millet Whistler is eminently vulgar; the clever etcher is always surprising the public. Whistler is master of dry-point, and he divides his reputation with his art. Miss Leyland's portrait must astonish with its fantastic traceries. "A Shipbuilder's Yard" and "Old Houses" equally illustrate the art, the work, and the eccentricity of the artist'. 15

15: 'Exhibition of Etchings', Glasgow Herald, 1 June 1881.

Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent his impression to the Union League Club exhibition in New York in 1881 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090301), and another was shown at the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1888, lent by Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) (possibly Graphic with a link to impression #K1090307 or Graphic with a link to impression #K1090402). 16 Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent one to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090202). 17

Impressions were for sale in several exhibitions, particularly at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090302) and (twice) in 1903 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090307, Graphic with a link to impression #K1090402) 18 and also at F. Keppel & Co. in New York in 1904. The latter came from the collection of Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938).

16: New York 1881 (cat. no. 125); Glasgow 1888 (cat. no. 2552-24).

17: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 90).

18: New York 1903b (cat. nos. 77a, b).

After Whistler's death, impressions of Elinor Leyland were shown in the big Memorial Exhibitions including the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 (where four different states were shown), Boston in 1904 (lent again by Mansfield), London (lent from the Royal Collection) and Paris in 1905. 19

19: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 99a, b, c, d); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 77); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 95).


Whistler sold impressions of the portrait, which he then called 'Babs', in 1877 to the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle, and to his friend Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890), for £6.6.0 each. 20

At auction in 1892, an impression from the important collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) was bought by a print dealer, Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst for only £3.3.0. 21

Early collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), who probably bought it in 1873 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090301); William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090304); James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1888) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090702); Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924), and later Judson S. Dutcher (b. ca 1863) and Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090307, Graphic with a link to impression #K1090402); James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) and Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1900302); and Freer also bought a later state (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090502).

20: 19-22 October 1877, GUW #12736; 12 October-5 November 1877, #12735.

21: 3 March 1892 (lot 148).

Cancelled impressions, often still in the album as published by the Fine Art Society, were acquired by major collectors and collections. The British Museum acquired a set in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090807), as did Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090811). Other early collectors included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090805) and Freer, who bought a set from Knoedler & Co. in 1893 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090801). The Hamburger Kunsthalle bought another set from J. Littauer of Munich in 1896 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090809).
In 1889 the London print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) had bought a set at the Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) sale, 22 which was later acquired in exchange for other works by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), who bequeathed it to the University of Glasgow (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090803). She also acquired a set which was dismantled, and an impression was stuck on the envelope containing the copper plate (Graphic with a link to impression #K1090804). This did not improve its condition.

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