Regent's Quadrant

Impression: Baltimore Museum of Art
Baltimore Museum of Art
Number: 242
Date: 1880/1881
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 166 x 122 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 10
Catalogues: K.239; M.235; W.192
Impressions taken from this plate  (10)


Regent’s Quadrant was not published.


It was first shown with Whistler's Venetian etchings and a selection of London subjects at the Fine Art Society in 1883. In the catalogue, Whistler twinned it with a cryptic excerpt from an unidentified review: 'There may be a few who find genius in insanity'. 13 This provided a pointed literary contrast to Whistler's careful, modest and very sane city-scape.

The Saturday Review in 1883 commented on the 'Japanese-like mark' (the butterfly) with which Whistler signed his work, and praised 'a clever suggestion of the hurry and bustle of the streets' in Regent’s Quadrant. 14

Later, impressions were shown in New York, by the print dealers H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898 and 1903. Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent an impression to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390306). 15 One was shown at Obach & Co. in London in 1903 and bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390302). 16

After Whistler's death, an impression was shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) lent one to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905. 17

13: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 22).

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

15: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 172); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

16: London Obach 1903 (cat. no. 166).

17: New York 1904a (cat. no. 194); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 192).


The price started at £5.5.0, Whistler's first recorded sale being to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) on 1 November 1886, and one later for the increased price of £7.7.0 on 29 August 1887. 18

Messrs Dowdeswell wanted impressions and were the main purchasers. Whistler sold them two on 28 April 1887 for £5.5.0 each, five for £6.6.0 each on 27 July 1887 (although one was returned on 10 August), and one more for £7.7.0 on 30 September 1887. 19 Whistler sold one to another art dealer, Roland F. Knoedler (1856-1932), also for £7.7.0, in 1888. 20

Finally Whistler's chief U.S. agents, H. Wunderlich & Co., had one for sale at £6.6.0 in 1897, which they had sold by 1899. 21

Prices at auction were a great deal lower. At the sale of the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby’s on 3 March 1892, lot 286, a 'first state' was bought by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. for only £0.11.0; lot 287 was bought by 'Barr' for £1.0.0; and lot 288 by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £1.11.0.

18: GUW #13010, #13089.

19: GUW #13020; #08677; #00892; 24 August -11 October 1887, GUW #13655; see also #00914.

20: 27 July 1888, GUW #13660.

21: Wunderlich's to Whistler, [August 1897], GUW #07289; 24 March 1899, #07305

Early collectors included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390202); Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390201); Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390304); Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390306); Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) and Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390102); Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390302, Graphic with a link to impression #K2390303) and Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2390305). From these major collectors the etchings went to the Baltimore Museum of Art, New York Public Library, the National Gallery of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Freer Gallery of Art and University of Michigan.