The Tiny Pool

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 167
Date: 1876/1878
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 99 x 66 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower right (2-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 22
Catalogues: K.173; M.170; W.73
Impressions taken from this plate  (22)


The Tiny Pool was not published.


It was seen twice in private shows organised by connoisseurs and collectors, for instance lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) to the Union League Club in 1881 as 'The Pool, No. 3. Only state' (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730101). 6 Another was exhibited in the show organised by the Caxton Club, Chicago in 1900 as 'Tiny Pool', lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730302). 7

It was also for sale in print exhibitions held by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1903 and Obach & Co. in London in the same year. 8 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought a third state of The Tiny Pool from the Wunderlich's 1903 show (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730303).

After Whistler's death impressions appeared in the Memorial Exhibitions, two at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 (a 'Trial proof.' and 'Finished state'), and one in London in 1905, lent by King Edward VII. 9

6: New York 1881 (cat. no. 102). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

7: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 68).

8: New York 1903b (cat. no. 61); London Obach 1903 (cat. no. 78)

9: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 76, 76b); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 73).


Due to the similarity in title, is not entirely clear in the sales records when Whistler meant The Tiny Pool and when he meant The Little Pool [79]. Impressions of both did enter the Royal Collection and were lent by King Edward VII to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in 1905, but unfortunately these individual impressions have not been identified. 10 Six impressions of what was listed as 'Little Pool' were sold through Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890) to Colnaghi's in 1877; the record reads 'Little Pool / 6 / Sold to Coln - paid' and this is confirmed in an invoice giving the price as £9.9.0 for six, plus an additional one priced at £2.2.0. 11 These may have been impressions of the third state, but this is not confirmed in the provenance of individual etchings, nor do they have Colnaghi stock numbers.

10: Whistler to Queen Victoria, [19/22 Oct. 1877], GUW #12736; London Mem. 1905 (cat. nos. 72, 73).

11: Whistler to C. A. Howell, 9-11 Nov. [1877], GUW #12738; to Colnaghi, 10 Nov. [1877], GUW #12739.

Whistler was in considerable need of money in 1877, and sold several impressions of what he called the 'Little Pool' for £2.2.0 each to Howell and the Royal Collection, as already mentioned, and also to South Kensington Museum, and to the print dealers J. & S. Hogarth and Colnaghi's (who bought yet another impression for £1.11.6 later in the year) and, in the following year, to a private collector, Alfred Chapman (1839-1917). 12

Wedmore noted 'Mr. Menpes has a trial proof of this slight and rare etching, before the monogram and other work.' 13 This would indicate that it was an impression of the first state, and was presumably bought at the earliest in the mid-1880s; it was later owned by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730102). Other early collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730101); George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730305); Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730201) and probably Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730302). An impression of the third state from the collection of Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) was signed by Whistler in the 1890s, and bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) from Wunderlich's in 1903 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1730303).

12: op. cit., GUW #12735, #12738, #12736; 22-27 Oct. [1877], #12737; 10 Nov. [1877] #12739; 9 August 1878, #07966.

13: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 73).