Little Drawbridge, Amsterdam

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 448
Date: 1889
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 178 x 128 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 13
Catalogues: K.412; M.405; W.263
Impressions taken from this plate  (13)


Little Drawbridge, Amsterdam was never published. However, it is considered part of Whistler's clearly defined but unpublished 'Amsterdam Set'.


It was first exhibited in 1890 by the print dealers Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) in London. 9 A critic commented: 'The "Draw-bridge" is another fascinating example, even more rigorously Japanese in treatment than is usual with Mr. Whistler.' 10 There is some doubt as to whether the critic meant this etching or Bridge, Amsterdam [447].

H. Wunderlich & Co. exhibited an impression in New York in 1898. 11 An impression was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120202). 12 Another was shown in London by the art dealers Obach & Co. in 1903.

Impressions were shown at the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death including the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, in Paris in 1905, and, lent by Herbert Charles Jerome Pollitt (1871-1942), in London in 1905. 13

9: London Dunthorne 1890; see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

10: 'New Etchings', Saturday Review, 15 March 1890 (PC 11/40).

11: New York 1898 (cat. no. 264); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

12: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 229).

13: New York 1904a (cat. no. 283); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 263).


The price was set at £10.10.0 by Whistler. He sold an impression on 17 February 1890 to the London print dealer, Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851); on 4 March 1890 to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120102); on 10 March to Messrs Dowdeswell; on 13 March 1890 to the Fine Art Society, in London; on 3 April 1890 to H. Wunderlich & Co. of New York; and on 9 April to Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. 14 Two impressions were actually inscribed by Whistler 'for Wünderlich' (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120206, Graphic with a link to impression #K4120209).

14: GUW #13039, #13065, #00916, #13002, #06585, 23 June 1890, GUW #13064.

Early collectors included Freer, as mentioned above, Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916), who had one by 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120202), Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935), possibly bought from Dowdeswell's (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120210), and Pauline Kohlsaat Palmer (1882-1956) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120z02).
Freer showed his Dutch etchings to Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927), and ordered a set for his colleague on 28 April 1890, which was sent on 15 May. 15 At the same time, Freer's main rival as collector, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938), complained of the preferential treatment other collectors were receiving:

15: GUW #01501; 16 June [1890], #13066.

'It has given me pleasure to note the favor which your Amsterdam etchings have met with here.... My pleasure, however, has been tinged with chagrin as I have seen other collectors have the choice which I have been wont to have of the proofs which have come to our printsellers. For having sent my orders to you - as you once asked me to do - I have had to stay my hand until I should hear from you. But nearly two months have gone without reply to my letter, so that to-day I am un-certain whether or not I have or ever shall have fine proofs of The Mill, The Bridge, The Little Drawbridge, and The Embroidered Curtain. ' 16

16: GUW #03989.

Whistler hastily got together six of the Dutch etchings including 'The Little Draw Bridge' at £10.10.0 and sent them on 28 June (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120213) . 17

On 2 July 1890 Whistler submitted some 19 etchings to the South Kensington Museum, but they returned most, including this etching, on 21 August. 18 On 5 August Whistler sent a set of eight Dutch etchings to his main dealer in Holland, Elbert Jan Van Wisselingh. (1848-1912). 19 There is no record to show when or if they were sold. Whistler did sell one to a close friend in Paris, Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), on 21 February 1891. 20 He even seems to have given one away, for one is inscribed to Charles McCall (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120208).

An impression from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) was sold at auction in 1892 to Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst for a fairly high price, £9.15.0. 21 Sales continued to go well, with Whistler selling two impressions on 18 April 1893 to the Fine Art Society, London, still for £10.10.0 each. 22 Finally in 1902 he sold another to a London print dealer, Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851), for a particularly high price, £12.12.0. 23

17: GUW #01501; #13048.

18: GUW #13044.

19: GUW #13239.

20: GUW #00920.

21: Sotheby’s, 3 March 1892 (lot 348).

22: GUW #01259.

23: 24 December 1902, GUW #13040.