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 dates from 1887.

The 'Wild West Show' was part of the 'American Exhibition', one of the special events surrounding the Jubilee of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) in 1887. The ship, containing cowboys, indians, 160 horses, deer, etc., arrived in the Thames on 14 April 1887, and the show-ground was erected over the following weeks. The Queen visited Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show at Earl's-Court, Brompton, on 5 May 1887. 1

The exhibition officially opened on 9 May and was open throughout the summer. It came to a 'dignified close' on 31 October. 2

1: 'The "Wild West Show', The Times, London, 15 April 1887, p. 10; 18 April 1887, p. 10;

2: 'Opening of the American Exhibition,'The Times, London, 10 May 1887, p. 10; 'The American Exhibition', 1 November 1887, p. 9.

Whistler took his his step-son, Edward Godwin (b. 1876), and his young brother-in-law, Ronald Murray Philip (1871-1940), to see the show. Years after, Whistler remembered the visit: 'The long "snake" lash in the hands of the handsome and overheated American,... will be easily recognised by Ronnie, or Teddie, from what they remember of Buffalo Bill and his cow boys - ' 3

3: Whistler to R. Birnie Philip, [20 February 1900], GUW #04773.