The Garden

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 194
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 307 x 240 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 15
Known impressions: 43
Catalogues: K.210; M.207; W.180
Impressions taken from this plate  (43)


It was published by Messrs Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau 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. 10

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


The Garden was first exhibited at the Fine Art Society in London in 1883 and in the reprise of the show by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in the same year. In the F.A.S. exhibition catalogue designed and written by Whistler, he included quotes chosen from earlier reviews to complement his etchings. In the catalogue The Garden was illustrated by a quotation from a review by 'Arry (Henry Quilter (1851-1907)):
'An art which is happier in the gloom of a doorway than in the glow of the sunshine, and turns with a pleasant blindness from whatsoever in Nature or Man is of perfect beauty or noble thought.' 11

11: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 40).

This was originally part of a much longer review by Quilter; this section, freely adapted by Whistler, was originally a general comment on the medium of etching, not Whistler. The relevant section had read:
'how can we wonder at the present popularity of the art of etching? - an art which is essentially limited in its range, emphatic in its diction, and partial in its truth; which is happer in the gloom of a doorway than in the glow of the sunshine, and turns with a pleasant blindness from whatsoever in Nature or Man is of perfect beauty or noble thought, to linger with a vain kindness over the dark shadows of some city alley, or the broken timbers of a disused barge.' 12

12: 'Mr Whistler's "Venice," at the Fine-Art Society, New Bond Street', Spectator, 11 December 1880 (GUL Whistler PC 4/12).

However, this is one of the lightest and sunniest of Whistler's etchings and clearly demonstrated that 'Arry was completely wrong in specifying any such limitations to the capacity of the medium.
Comparing it with The Venetian Mast [219], in 1883, the Saturday Review thought The Garden 'equally remarkable for its feeling and execution, and for the fine pose and careful treatment of the figure of the youth who sits with one leg extended on the steps, and one foot dangling in the water.' 13

A brief exhibition of 40 etchings including the newly published 'Second Venice Set' at the Hogarth Club in 1887 inspired one art critic to write lyrically:

13: Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Exhibition', Saturday Review, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/32).

'We should like to draw attention next to "San Biagio," "Furnace Nocturne," and the "Garden." These are all seen for the first time in their perfected condition, and they belong to the set which Messrs Dowdeswell are now publishing. ... The "Garden," like the "Furnace," is beheld from a canal. An open door in the wall affords a vision of careless grace and pretty disorder ; and the old house, still in its shabby serviceableness, in contrast with the bursting life of the garden, might be fancied to echo the complaint of the Greek poet -
"Spring for the tree and herb - no Spring for us!"' 14

14: Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', The Standard, London, 3 March 1887 (GUL PC7/18-19).

Other print dealer's shows included H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and (twice) in 1903; Obach & Co. in London in 1903, F. Keppel & Co., New York in 1902 and 1904. 15

An impression was shown at an exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100502). 16 In the following year James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) lent one from his 'Second Venice set' to the Glasgow International Exhibition. 17 It was shown, usually with other impressions from the 'Second Venice Set', at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901 and an Art and Industrial Exhibition in Wolverhampton in 1902. Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent an impression to the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, the first Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1902, and the Whistler Memorial exhibition held in Boston in 1904. 18

After Whistler's death, three impressions were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and another (lent from the Royal Collection) at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100z10). 19

15: New York 1898 (cat. no. 159); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

16: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 160).

17: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 224).

18: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2243 [1667]); Philadelphia 1902 (cat. no. 947 [180]); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 141).

19: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 182a,b,c); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 180).


Otto Henry Bacher (1856-1909) acquired one of the first proofs from Whistler in Venice (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100102). On his return to London, Whistler sold impressions at £8.8.0 to Wickham Flower (b. ca 1836) in August 1882, to the Royal Collection on 12 September 1882 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100z10), and to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) for £ 6.6.0 on 8 August and £8.8.0 on 28 August 1882. 20

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 The Garden to the British Museum in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100803). 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 #K2100805).
Early collectors included Alfred Beurdeley (1847-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100707) and Atherton Curtis (1863-1944) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100806); George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100802); Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100504); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100502); Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100402) and Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100403). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought an impression from Frederick Keppel & Co. in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100702) and one from Whistler in 1902 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2100703).
At auction an impression sold at Christie’s, 27 November 1888 (lot 179) and was bought by Lauser for £2.2.0. Another was sold from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 275) to another print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £5.10.0.

Whistler also sold impressions in 1902 to Dunthorne, one for the enormous sum of £31.10.0 and another for £15.15.0, and a third impression in the same year to Freer for £12.12.0 21

21: 24 December 1902, GUW #13040; Merrill 1995, p. 164 (Letter 67), FGA Whistleriana 276.