Little Court

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 244
Date: 1880/1881
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 127 x 176 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 22
Catalogues: K.236; M.232; W.173
Impressions taken from this plate  (22)


Little Court 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. 10

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


Little Court was first exhibited at the Fine Art Society, London, in 1883. In the catalogue, written by Whistler, Little Court was accompanied by a short sentence from the London Standard: 'Merely technical triumphs.' 11 Possibly Whistler was querying the word 'merely' by demonstrating his technical 'triumphs' in this delicate, detailed work. It was ignored by the critics in 1883, except for quotations from the catalogue entry. 12

Later print dealers' shows included H. Wunderlich & Co., New York in 1883 (a reprise of the F.A.S. show), 1898, and 1903; Obach & Co., London, in 1903; and F. Keppel & Co., New York, in 1902. One impression was exhibited in Leipzig in 1895, one was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360103) and another by James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) to the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901. 13

Impressions also appeared in the comprehensive Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death including the Grolier Club exhibition in New York in 1904; the Paris and London shows of 1905, the latter lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934); and the Rotterdam retrospective in 1906 to which Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) lent an impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360106). 14

11: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 21).

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

13: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 153); Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 231). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

14: New York 1904a (cat. no. 175); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 173); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 371); Rotterdam 1906 (cat. no. 54).


Most impressions were sold through the publishers, Messrs Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau, or by them to dealers who sold to collectors. Messrs Dowdeswell gave an impression to the British Museum in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360109). Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) sold one to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360104). Thibaudeau sold one to H. Wunderlich & Co., New York in 1888 and they sold it with a complete set in 1890 to Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360108). Whistler retained one impression, which was bequeathed by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) to the University of Glasgow (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360106).
Prices at auction were low. At Christie’s on 27 November 1888 (lot 172) an impression was bought by Gustave Lauser (b. ca 1841) for £1.10.0. At the Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) sale at Sotheby’s, 3 March 1892 lot 268 was bought by Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913) for £3.0.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360105), and he sold it in 1905 to Freer.
Other early American collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360117); George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360107); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360103); Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360102) and Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2360110).