Sir Garnet Wolseley

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 177
Date: 1877
Medium: drypoint
Size: 305 x 177 mm
Signed: butterfly at left (5-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 7
Catalogues: K.164; M.166; W.138
Impressions taken from this plate  (7)
On Sunday 25 November 1877 Garnet Joseph Wolseley (1833-1913) noted in his diary: 'Breakfasted with Whistler[;] Boe[h]m & several artists were there: spent the day there - Whistler etched me on copper & took two impressions - very good.' 1 This is confirmed by Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890), one of the guests, who noted in his diary, 'Went to Whistler's, met Sir Garnet Wolseley. Whistler etched him - got two first proofs, second one touched, 42s. Met Pellegrini and Godwin' . 2 On 25 November, Howell sent Whistler a record of recent acquisitions including these two impressions of 'Sir Gardnet Wolsey' [sic]. 3

Apart from Wolseley and Howell, the other guests at Whistler's 'Sunday breakfast' were Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-1890), Edward William Godwin (1833-1886) and Carlo Pellegrini (1839-1889). The meal consisted of tomato soup, stewed pigeon, braised beef Provençale, mince pies and coffee. The assurance of Whistler's draughtsmanship might suggest that the portrait was drawn before the meal! 4

2: Mis-dated 24 November 1877, Pennell 1908, vol. 1, p. 195.

It is the only portrait known to date from 1877, although Whistler with the White Lock [162], Irving as Philip of Spain, No. 1 [158] and Irving as Philip of Spain, No. 2 [159] may be close in date. On 26 January 1878, The Academy noted:
'MR. WHISTLER has recently added, we are informed, to the small list of his etched portraits, an etched portrait of Sir Garnet Wolseley, which is spoken of with approval, as not unworthy to take rank among his efforts in portraiture with the later, and certainly not least successful of his riverside studies on the Thames.' 5

5: 'Notes on Art and Archaeology', The Academy, 26 January 1878, p. 84.

Herbert Stewart Cundell (1850-1923) commented in April 1878, 'He has also ... nearly completed a very effective portrait of Sir Garnet Wolseley', and in America, the Art Journal reported that 'MR. WHISTLER, one of the American artists in London, has produced an etched portrait of Sir Garnet Wolseley, which the English critics cordially praise.' 6

6: 'English Etching', The Standard, London, 25 April 1878, p. 2 (GUL PC1/94).; Art Journal, IV, 1878, p. 128.