The Guitar Player (M.W. Ridley)

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 124
Date: 1874/1875
Medium: drypoint
Size: 279 x 179 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 11
Catalogues: K.140; M.138; W.122
Impressions taken from this plate  (11)


The Guitar Player was not published.


Impression: K1400302
An impression (possibly that reproduced above) was probably exhibited in the first show held by Walter Dowdeswell (1858-1929), who wrote:
'I hung the ... sky lighted end of our shop in Chancery Lane, and held what was probably the first exhibition of miscellaneous etchings by modern Artists that had ever been held in England - It was modest, but it included ... some beautiful new dry points by Whistler - "Battersea-Dawn" - "Oyster Smacks" "The Guitar Player" and some others, all of which I got from Mr. Huish who had them from Mr. Whistler.' 14

14: Memoir, [1886/1887?], GUW #08699. Marcus Bourne Huish (1843-1904) was Director of the Fine Art Society.

The drypoint was widely exhibited in public, private and commercial shows. An impression was lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) to the Union League Club in New York in 1881, listed in the catalogue as ''The Guitar Player (Ridley) 1875', 'trial proof' (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400103). 15

15: New York 1881 (cat. no. 141); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

After this no exhibition is recorded until 1898, when it was exhibited in New York by H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898. In 1900 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) lent what he thought was a first state (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400203) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago, and Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent his as a second state (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400302) - in both cases the etchings were of a later state. 16 Impressions were shown at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1902, lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400501), and by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York and Obach & Co. in London in 1903.

16: Chicago 1900 (cat. nos. 110, 110a).

After Whistler's death, impressions were exhibited at the Memorial Exhibitions, including three states that were shown at the Grolier Club in 1904, one lent by Mansfield to the Whistler Memorial show in Boston in 1904 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400501) and another lent by H.R.H. Princess Victoria to the London Memorial in 1905. 17

17: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 126a, b, c); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 92); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 122).


Whistler's first recorded sale may have been in 1875, when he sent eight etchings and drypoints including 'The Guitar player' priced at £6.6.0 to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916). 18

18: [March/April 1875], GUW #07573.

Whistler printed several impressions in 1877 and for a while used a code to keep track of impressions. For instance:
Guitar Player 2 ' ' x . . . 19
Guitar Player No. 3 ' ' 20
Guitar player - (P C) 21

19: To Marcus Bourne Huish (1843-1904), 10 October 1877, GUW #12734.

20: To C. A. Howell, 12 October-5 November [1877], GUW #12735.

21: To J. Hogarth, 22-27 October [1877], GUW #12737.

The code may be interpreted in different ways, but the most likely is that Whistler was noting the second impression sold, leaving three in stock, followed by the third, leaving two in stock. Alternatively he could meant the second of five printed, followed by the third of the same print run of five. 'X' could possibly mean one intended for exhibition, or be a mark of quality, and 'PC' might likewise be an indication of an impression selected for a particular buyer - it could possibly mean 'Private Collector'.
Whistler sent an impression to another private collector - Alfred Chapman (1839-1917) - in 1878, but again, it is not known if he kept it. 22

In 1877 Whistler sold several impressions at £10.10.0 each, to the Fine Art Society, London, Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890), the Royal Collection, Windsor Castle (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400304), and to another print firm, Messrs Hogarth. 23 Messrs Dowdeswell also bought some impressions from the Fine Art Society and exhibited them in their new gallery.

Whistler later bought one back from Edmond Gosselin (1849-1917) on 9 May 1887 for 150fr. 24 It was offered by Whistler to the Glasgow art dealer William Craibe Angus (1830-1899) who queried the print: 'The Guitar Player. This impression has curious whitish lines running across the plate from under the arms to the feet - Kindly say if these lines are on all the impressions - .' 25 There is no record of Whistler's reply. However it is very likely that Craibe Angus kept the print because he had two local collectors who acquired impressions, Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400102) - reproduced below - and Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400204).

22: 9 August 1878, GUW #07966.

23: Whistler to M. B. Huish, 10 Oct. 1877, #12734; to Howell, 12 Oct.-5 Nov. [1877], #12735; to Queen Victoria, [19/22 Oct. 1877], #12736; to Hogarth, 22-27 Oct. [1877], #12737.

24: To W. C. Angus, 9 May 1887, GUW #13098.

25: Angus and Son, 18 August 1887, GUW #00172.

Impression: K1400102

At the sale of the important collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) in 1892 an impression was bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst for £3.0.0 - clearly a lot less than Whistler was getting. 26

26: Sotheby’s, 3 March 1892 (lot 201).

Other early collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400103); Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) (whose impression was sold through Wunderlich's to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400203); Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400501); and Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) (who sold another impression to Freer, in 1889) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1400303).