Custom House

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 179
Date: 1878
Medium: etching
Size: 84 x 190 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 8
Catalogues: K.150; M.148; W.128
Impressions taken from this plate  (8)


Custom House was not published.


It was rare, and rarely seen in exhibition. An impression of Custom House from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) was on show at H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, in 1898. Another was shown at Wunderlich's in 1903 and bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1500102). 20

Impressions were also exhibited by Obach & Co. in London in 1903 and, after Whistler's death, in the Whistler Memorial Exhibitions, at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and in London in 1905. 21

20: New York 1898 (cat. no. 213); New York 1903b (cat. no. 217). see REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

21: London Obach 1903 (cat. no. 105); New York 1904a (cat. no. 132); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 300).


Whistler sold directly to several art dealers, such as George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1500104) and Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1500108) who were both also collectors.
On 4 February 1887 Messrs Dowdeswell asked Whistler if they could buy a number of etchings and drypoints that had been listed in Wedmore's catalogue, including '128', which was The White Tower. Three impressions of 'Custom House' were then sold to Dowdeswell's in April of the same year for £6.6.0 each. 22

22: 4 February and 28 April 1887, GUW #00888, #13020; Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no 128).

Whistler also may have targetted artists, such as Arthur Haythorne Studd (1863-1919), who owned a fine, delicate impression that he bequeathed to the British Museum (Graphic with a link to impression #K1500105). Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919) owned an impression that passed later to Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971), who in his turn gave it to the National Gallery of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K1500106). Other major collectors who acquired impressions included Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924), whose good, clear impression was acquired in 1903 by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919)(Graphic with a link to impression #K1500102).