Impression: National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Number: 270
Date: 1886/1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 133 x 98 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 5
Catalogues: K.284; M.280
Impressions taken from this plate  (5)


Marbles was not published.


It was rarely exhibited in Whistler's lifetime. It was shown by the print dealers H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and 1903. One of these was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2840102). 9

Impressions were shown in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, including all three states exhibited at the Grolier Club, New York in 1904, and one impression at the Whistler Memorial show in London in 1905. 10

9: New York 1898 (cat. no. 212); New York 1903b (cat. no. 225); see REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

10: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 341a,b,c); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 312).


Both Whistler and print dealers often numbered the etchings and the record of sales to help identify works as they were sold. Whistler listed an impression as '(8) Marbles' sold to H. Wunderlich & Co. of New York on 16 April 1889 for £8.8.0. 11 This was bought by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) and bears confirmation in the form of 'No 8' written on the verso, as well as the words 'Chosen Proof -' (Graphic with a link to impression #K2840303). Mansfield said that he owned the '1st proof' 12 and certainly owned impressions of the first and third states (Graphic with a link to impression #K2840202 and Graphic with a link to impression #K2840303).

11: GUW #13055.

12: Mansfield 1909 ( 280).

A few years later Wunderlich's noted a reduced price of £5.5.0. In August 1897 they recorded two in stock. One of these, listed as '150 / Marbles' (Graphic with a link to impression #K2840102), was sold to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919). 13 The other, '26 / Marbles' was sold by 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2840103) but the purchaser is unknown; some time later it was bought by Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971), who gave it to the National Gallery of Art. 14 In both cases the number (#150, #26) is written on the verso, confirming the history of the etching.

13: Wunderlich's to Whistler, [August 1897], September 1897, GUW #07289, #07287.

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