Wild West: The Orator

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 294
Date: 1887
Medium: etching
Size: 128 x 178 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 6
Catalogues: K.313; M.310
Impressions taken from this plate  (6)


Wild West: The Orator was not published.


Either this or The Orator, Buffalo Bill [293] was first exhibited at the Royal Society of British Artists in the winter of 1887-1888, towards the conclusion of Whistler's Presidency of the Society. The London Standard commented:
'Mr Whistler's latest studies with the etching needle divide themselves as to theme into four classes, one of them dealing with a pilastered house in Brussels, another with what Mr Whistler saw when he was a privileged spectator of her Majesty's fleet, a fourth with the arena of Buffalo Bill. Of all of these things there are vivacious and dexterous jottings.' 15

15: London RBA 1887-8 (cat. no. 525). '"Black and White" Exhibition', Standard, London, 25 December 1887 (GUL PC9/47).

In the USA, impressions were shown in New York by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and 1903 (Graphic with a link to impression #K3130103). After Whistler's death, impressions were shown in the comprehensive exhibition at the Grolier Club, also in New York, in 1904. 16

16: New York 1898 (cat. no. 216); New York 1903b (cat. no. 250); New York 1904a (cat. no. 241).


Whistler sold three 'Wild West' subjects ('Wild West No. 1', The Orator, Buffalo Bill [293] and The Bucking Horse, Wild West [295]) to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) on 17 November 1887. 'Wild West No. 1' was £10.10.0. 17 He offered them at the same prices to the Glasgow dealer William Craibe Angus (1830-1899) in December. 18

On 4 February 1888 Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) asked: 'We have heard of your etching's [sic] of Buffalo Bill ... Can you put us in the way of procuring any of these?' His firm, H. Wunderlich & Co., had one in stock in 1897, valued at £6.6.0. 19 An impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K3130105) from the collection of Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) was sold for $48 when his collection was acquired by Wunderlich's in 1902. 20 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought another from Wunderlich's in 1903 (Graphic with a link to impression #K3130103).

Two were in Whistler's studio at his death in 1903 and were inherited by his sister-in-law Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) (Graphic with a link to impression #K3130107, Graphic with a link to impression #K3130104), and passed by her to the University of Glasgow.

17: GUW #13016.

18: C. J. W. Hanson to C. Angus & Son, 16 December 1887, GUW #01959.

19: GUW #07155; [August 1897], #07289.

20: Wunderlich's stock books, no. a36708.