Nocturne: Salute

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 203
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 155 x 230 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left (3-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 10
Known impressions: 14
Catalogues: K.226; M.223; W.199
Impressions taken from this plate  (14)


Nocturne: Salute was not published.


It was first exhibited at the Fine Art Society, London in 1883. 9 In the catalogue designed by Whistler for the show he added short excerpts from earlier reviews that provided ironical contrasts or complements to the prints on show. Here he quoted from an unfortunate comment by Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921), to which Whistler drew attention by a wriggly butterfly signature in the margin, and another excerpt by an unidentified critic:

9: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 43).

"The utter absence, as far as my eye may be trusted, of gradation."—F. Wedmore.
"There are many things in a painter's art which even a photographer cannot understand." Laudatory notice in Provincial Press.'

10: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 43).

The use of tone to create subtle atmospheric effects was a direct challenge to Wedmore for his earlier comment on Whistler's lack of 'gradation'.

Nocturne: Salute was rather neglected by critics in 1883. The critic of the Daily News thought it 'Among etchings that will be, or should be, admired' and called it 'beautiful' but the Bazaar dismissed it, saying that the 'nocturnes of Shipping, Dawn, Furnace, or Salute, are something more than disappointing.' 11 However, John Forbes-Robertson, in a thorough and insightful review of the show, commented on the technique: 'The liquid quality ... which Mr. Whistler gives to water, as in "Nocturne Salute", is produced, we believe, by pressing the fleshy part of the palm deftly over the surface of the plate. There are many mysteries connected with the printing which Mr. Whistler holds in his keeping, and brings successfully into play as occasion requires.' 12

11: Anon., 'Fine Art', Mr Whistler's Exhibition', Bazaar, 28 February 1883 (GUL PC6/43).; Anon., 'Mr. Whistler's Etchings', Daily News, 20 February 1883 (GUL PC25/20).

12: 'Mr. Whistler, His Arrangement in White and Yellow, His Etchings and His Catalogue', Pictorial World, 31 March 1883 (GUL PC 8/8).

Later, impressions were exhibited by the print dealers H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1883 (in a reprise of the F.A.S. show), 1898, and twice in 1903, and at Obach & Co., in London (probably Graphic with a link to impression #K2260503), also in 1903. 13 Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent an impression to an exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260507). 14

After the artist's death impressions were shown in several of the Whistler Memorial Exhibitions. A grand total of four impressions of different states was exhibited at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and two were also shown in Boston in the same year, lent by Francis Bullard (1862-1913) and Frank Gair Macomber (1849-1941) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260508), as well as one in London, lent by King Edward VII, in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260203). 15

13: London Obach 1903 (cat. no. 170); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

14: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 177).

15: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 201a,b,c, d); Boston 1904 (cat. nos. 154, 155); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 199).


The price varied considerably. Whistler sold the London print dealer, Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) the 'first proof ' on 1 November 1886 for £10.10.0 and a later impression for £6.6.0. 16 The 'first proof' was probably sold to Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260101), but has not been located. Messrs Dowdeswell bought an impression from Whistler on 28 April 1887 for £6.6.0. 17 On 3 May 1888 H. Wunderlich & Co. of New York bought a 'rare state' for an extremely high price, £21.0.0. 18

16: GUW #13010.

17: GUW #13020

18: GUW #07158.

By contrast, a 'first state' and a 'second state' were sold from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lots 302, 303) as 'Nocturne, Salute' and bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst for £0.17.0 and £1.0.0 respectively.
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), bought one from Obach & Co., in 1903 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260503), another from Thomas Way (1837-1915) in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260502) and an early impression from E. Gottschalk (dates unknown) in 1908 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260202). An impression from the Royal Collection was sold through Wunderlich's and Obach & Co. to Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) in 1906 and was bequeathed to the University of Michigan Art Museum (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260203). Other early collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260402); Stanhope Alexander. Forbes (1857-1947) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260505); Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260507); Frank Gair Macomber (1849-1941) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2260508); Ralph King (1855-1926) and his wife (Graphic with a link to impression #K2270z01).