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)


Sir Garnet Wolseley was not published.


One impression from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) was on show at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and another was shown by the same firm in 1903, and sold to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1640402). 19

19: New York 1898 (cat. no. 117); New York 1903b (cat. no. 102). See REFERENCE : EXHIBITIONS.

Another impression was lent from the extensive collection of James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) to the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1901. P.M. Turner commented: 'One of the best features is to be found in the extraordinarily fine and exhaustive collection of Whistler's etchings and lithographs. It matters not what comes his way, be it "Lord Wolseley", or a "Nocturne Palace" [sic], or "The Rialto, Venice", he is quite at home.' 20

After Whistler's death, impressions were shown in the Memorial Exhibitions including the comprehensive show at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and at the Copley Society in Boston in the same year, and in Paris in 1905. 21 An impression from the collection of King Edward VII was exhibited as 'Lord Wolseley' at the Whistler Memorial show in London in 1905. 22 A correspondent of the Morning Post was mystified by the numbering of the ISSPG catalogue:

20: 'The Glasgow Exhibition. Part VIII, Black and White,10 August 1901, p. 385. Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 214).

21: New York 1904a (cat. no. 140); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 105).

22: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no.138).

'He had been admiring a very fresh and charming pencil sketch of a baby, placed at the far end of the balcony, and turning to his catalogue he found that against its number (138) was "Landing Stage, Cowes ..." This was obviously wrong, and after some search he found that the catalogue had a second section for etchings and drawings. In it he found that 138 represented "Lord Wolseley." Our correspondent and his wife admire the picture for some time from this point of view, and the lady discovered in the infant's animated action and steadfast look some promise of future greatness. They went home under this impression, only to be told by a friend that the portrait of Lord Wolseley showed him in the pride of his manhood, and that if he had looked up a third section of the catalogue he would have found that it was simply a sketch of an unnamed child.' 23 The drawing was Miss May Traer [m0297]!

23: Morning Post, 6 March 1905 (GUL PC21/19).


Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890), who saw the etching being printed in 1877, acquired two of the first proofs (Graphic with a link to impression #K1640102, Graphic with a link to impression #K1640203), as did Wolseley himself. On 25 November, Howell sent Whistler a record of recent acquisitions including two impressions of 'Sir Gardnet Wolsey' [sic]. 24

24: [6-25 November 1877], GUW #02178.

It is a rare etching, and its known rarity, as well as the fame of the sitter, encouraged high prices. Whistler sold an impression to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) in November 1886 for £12.12.0 and another in December 1887 for £8.8.0. 25

One impression was trimmed and signed on the tab with a butterfly by Whistler, in the 1890s, for a dealer or a prospective purchaser (Graphic with a link to impression #K1640201). This print was recorded as owned in 1910 by 'W. V. Kellen' - possibly a relation of Ph. Van der Kellen, the director of the Rijksprentenkabinet.

25: [1 November 1886], and 21 December 1887, GUW #13010, #13017.

However, even a major patron like Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), was unable to obtain an impression until shortly after Whistler's death in 1903, when prices were high. Freer bought an impression through Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), from H. Wunderlich & Co., for $330.00 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1640402). He also bought a substantial group of etchings from the collection of Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938), through Obach & Co., including an impression of the first state for the very high price of £92.8.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1640102). 26 The Menpes impressions had been exhibited at Brown & Phillips's Gallery in Leicester Square and commended by George Roland Halkett among the 'rare plates' in the exhibition. 27

26: FGA vouchers 1903-9485, 1903-9503.

27: 'G.R.H.', 'Art Notes', Pall Mall Gazette, [1903], (GUL PC22/141).

Early collectors included Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936), who acquired a proof touched with grey wash (Graphic with a link to impression #K1640203), which passed to the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Another impression apparently passed through the hands of Messrs Dowdeswell, Colnaghi's (stock no. c 9347), Wunderlich's (stock nos. a 51713 and a 65717) and Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935), before being bought by Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971), who gave it to the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (Graphic with a link to impression #K1640403).