The Scotch Widow

Impression: New York Public Library
New York Public Library
Number: 147
Date: 1875/1876
Medium: drypoint
Size: 205 x 103 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 18
Catalogues: K.142; M.140; W.118
Impressions taken from this plate  (18)


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


The Scotch Widow was extremely rare and rarely exhibited. An impression was lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) to the Union League Club in New York in 1881 and to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420209). 7

After Whistler's death, impressions were shown in the principal Memorial Exhibitions. One impression was lent to the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent his impression to the Whistler Memorial Show in Boston in 1904 whilst another was exhibited in London, 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420102). 8

7: New York 1881 (cat. no. 137); Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 106). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

8: New York 1904a (cat. no. 119); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 119), London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 118).


Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) bought an impression shortly after the drypoint was printed (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420209). Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890) bought one on 25 October 1877. 9

9: 6-25 November 1877, GUW #02178.

Surviving impressions from the cancelled plate are often in the album as published in 1879. For instance, the British Museum bought an album in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420204), and Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought a set from Knoedler & Co. in 1893 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420201). Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) also acquired a set in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420211) which later went to Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Early owners included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), whose impression went eventually to Baltimore Museum of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420203). Boston Public Library also acquired a set (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420207). In addition, a set acquired by J. Littauer, Munich was sold to the Hamburger Kunsthalle in 1896 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1420208).
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 (see Graphic with a link to impression #K1420202).

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