The Barber's Shop, Chelsea

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 263
Date: 1886
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 166 x 242 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 11
Catalogues: K.271; M.268; W.229
Impressions taken from this plate  (11)


The Barber's Shop, Chelsea was not published.


Whistler must have thought highly of this etching and exhibited it at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889 as 'The Barber's Shop, Chelsea'. 11

11: Paris Exp. Univ. 1889 (cat. no. 419).

It was next exhibited in the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. It formed part of a group selected by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) and approved by Whistler. Mansfield wrote that 'by leaving out "Maude" and "Speke Hall", it became possible to include "The Smithy" and "The Barber's Shop". ' 12

Both Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) and Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710104 and Graphic with a link to impression #K2970204) lent impressions to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club, also in Chicago, in 1900. 13 An impression exhibited in Dresden in 1901 was bought by the Königl. Kupferstichkabinett after the show, and shown again in the following year (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710111). Impressions were shown by the print dealers H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and 1903. 14

After Whistler's death, impressions were shown in the Memorial Exhibitions; for instance, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent to the Copley Society show in Boston in 1904 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710110), King Edward VII, to the London Exhibition of 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710102) and Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) to one in Rotterdam in 1906 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710105). 15

12: 15 May 1893, GUW #04002; Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2260).

13: Chicago 1900 (cat. nos. E199, 199a).

14: New York 1898 (cat. no. 183); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

15: Boston 1904 (cat. no.170); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 229); Rotterdam 1906 (cat. no. 61).


Whistler set the price at £12.12.0 and sales were brisk. He sold impressions to Knoedler & Co. on 27 July and to Messrs Dowdeswell on 17 November 1888. The Fine Art Society, London, bought one on 27 March 1889 (it is not absolutely certain this was kept) and one inscribed 'Chosen proof' went to Wunderlich's of New York ('No. 16', Graphic with a link to impression #K2710108) on 16 April 1889. 16 This was later given by Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) to the National Gallery of Art.
Whistler offered one to the art dealer Durand-Ruel on 13 December 1889 but it is not certain if this was actually sold. 17 The artist sold directly to some private collectors, including Charles John Knowles (1840-1900) on 17 February 1889 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710106), and Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) (at the reduced price of £10.10.0) on 21 February 1891. 18 Knowles' impression was later bequeathed by Guy John Fenton Knowles (1879-1959) to the Fitzwilliam Museum.

17: GUW #09068.

18: GUW #13050, #00920.

Whistler sold two impressions directly to museums: one went for £12.12.0 to South Kensington Museum on 2 July 1890 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710112). 19 In 1901, after the International Exhibition of Fine Arts in Dresden, he sold an assortment of eight prints (including Graphic with a link to impression #K2710111) to the Königl. Kupferstichkabinett in Dresden at the price of £50.0.0 for the lot. 20

19: GUW #13044.

20: E. R. Bankgeschäft to Whistler, GUW #05204; money order, #00947.

The etching was still priced at £12.12.0 (though originally listed at £10.10.0) when bought in 1900 by Wunderlich's. 21

An impression bought by the Royal Collection and lent to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition of 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710102) was sold through Agnew's and Wunderlich's in 1906 to Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913) whose heirs passed it to the Art Institute of Chicago. Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) owned the '1st proof', and it went with his collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710107).

21: Wunderlich's to Whistler, 6 April 1900, GUW #07322.

Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought two impressions, one of the second state from Thomas Way (1837-1915) in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710103) and a first state probably shortly afterwards (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710104).
One was left in Whistler's studio at his death in 1903 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2710105) and was bequeathed to Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) who gave it to the University of Glasgow (with the copper plate) in 1935.