Fruit Stall

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 225
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 227 x 151 mm
Signed: butterfly at left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 21
Known impressions: 47
Catalogues: K.200; M.197; W.166
Impressions taken from this plate  (47)


Fruit Stall was published by Messrs Dowdeswell and Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) with A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') in 1886. Whistler delivered in all 1093 prints and was paid £2.10.6 for printing each dozen prints. 11

11: Dowdeswell to Whistler, invoice 16 July 1887, GUW #00891.


It was first exhibited as Fruit Stall at the Bond Street galleries of the Fine Art Society, London in 1883. Whistler's catalogue entry added an excerpt from an earlier review: 'The historical associations of cities have little charm for Mr Whistler and no place in his art.' 12 The assertion was obviously untrue since Whistler etched such historical sites as The Palaces [223] and The Rialto [199], but in the case of the Fruit Stall he focussed on the contemporary city, local shops and inhabitants by a quiet and unidentified back-canal. This was perhaps appreciated by one critic who waxed ecstatic, not about the etching, but about the delights of Venice:

12: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 9).

'Venice scenes and Venice subjects, Venice shipping, and Venice shops, Venice men and women, from gondoliers to bead-stringers, Venice from the Riva degli Schiavoni to the Rialto, from the Salute to Murano, from San Biagio to the Long Lagoon, from San Giorgio to the Piazzetta, from the Islands to the Grand Canal, we have the "glorious City in the sea," set down in black and white- set down, too, by one who certainly can claim to originality of treatment. In fine, Venice as she is in odd corners, Venice from new points of view, palaces and bridges, Venice trades and traders, shops and stalls, the glass blowers of Murano, the wheelwright, the fish shop, with the frutti di mare, ... fruit stalls, with the fruits of the land, grapes and green figs, cool water melons, and gourds fit to serve Cinderella for a chariot, and gherkins green and fresh, or yellow and salt, wool carders and beggars, gondolas and tragezzos; Venice as she is, not the Venice of the scene painters...' 13

13: 'An Arrangement in White and Yellow', [February 1883], unidentified press-cutting, GUL PC25/26.

These 'fruits of the land' are not really visible, and it is the title that explains that this is a fruit and vegetable stall
Impressions were shown in later print dealer's shows - particularly with H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1883, 1898 and 1903 - and a 'Trial Proof' and 'Plate finished' were exhibited in New York in 1903. 14 Others were shown by F. Keppel & Co. in New York in 1902 and by Obach & Co. in London in 1903.

It was also exhibited at a show organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000702). 15 James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) lent an impression from his large collection to the Glasgow International in 1901. 16

Impressions were exhibited in the Memorial Exhibitions held after Whistler's death, at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, by the Copley Society in Boston - lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000z13) - also in 1904, and in Paris and London (lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934)) in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000703). 17


15: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 146).

16: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 226).

17: New York 1904a (cat. no. 168); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 131); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 166).


Several transactions between Whistler and print dealers show that the price was originally low but escalated sharply in the late 1890s. An impression was sold for £4.4.0 on 28 August 1882 (that is, before publication by Dowdeswell's) to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832). 18 By the time of publication by Dowdeswell's in 1886 the average price for etchings in the set was £4.5.0; by 1899 the price for an impression was £7.7.0 to Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) in New York. 19

18: GUW #13643.

19: GUW #13643, #00891, #07305.

Prices at auction fluctuated wildly between £2.0.0 and £18.0.0. One print fetched £1.10.0. in 1888, bought by Obach & Co., which was a comparatively low price. 20 On 24 December 1902 Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) (who had bought one earlier at the sale of the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Christie's on 3 March 1892 (lot 261) for £2.10.0) bought another impression from Whistler - perhaps as a Christmas present - for a much higher price - £15.15.0. Then in the following year, on 8 June 1903 (that is, shortly before Whistler's death) he bought what was presumably a fine impression for an even greater price, £18.18.0. 21

20: Christie's, 27 November 1888 (lot 165).

21: GUW #13040, receipt, [17 June 1903], #13042.

From 1886 most impressions were sold by Messrs Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau with the 'Second Venice Set'. Dowdeswell's gave a set including an impression of Fruit Stall to the British Museum in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000613). Thibaudeau sold a set for £52.10.0 through Gustave Lauser (b. ca 1841) to H. Wunderlich & Co. in May 1888, and it was bought by Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) in 1890 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000707). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought one from Frederick Keppel & Co. in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000602) and one from Thomas Way (1837-1915) in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010204).
Early collectors included Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000z08); Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000604) and Otto Gerstenberg (1848-1935) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000717). Other early American collectors included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000603, Graphic with a link to impression #K2000705); Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000601); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000702, Graphic with a link to impression #K2000706); Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000z13); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000604); Charles Deering (1852-1927) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010402); George Washington Vanderbilt (1862-1914) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000717); Thomas Jefferson Coolidge jr (1863-1912) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000z09); and Walter Stanton Brewster (1872-1954) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2000803).