Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 458
Date: 1889
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 131 x 221 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 16
Catalogues: K.416; M.414; W.268
Impressions taken from this plate  (16)


Zaandam was never published. However, it is closely related to Whistler's unpublished 'Amsterdam Set'.


The first exhibition was at the gallery of the print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) in London in 1890. 11 The Saturday Review on 15 March 1890 picked out Zaandam for praise as 'thoroughly delightful, and gives in a very few lines the entire charm of the long perspectives, the blowing grasses of the dykes, the sleepy canals, and the wild flutter of innumerable windmills on the long horizon.' 12

Joseph Pennell (1860-1926) saw the show at Dunthorne's gallery and was deeply impressed, as his wife recorded :

11: London Dunthorne 1890.

12: Whistler's presscuttings, Glasgow University Library, PC11 p. 22.

'About this time, we returned for a few months to London and J. [Joseph Pennell] commenced to write occasionally in the London press, succeeding Mr. George Bernard Shaw as art critic on the Star. This is his impression, written when he saw them then :
"I stepped in at Dunthorne's the other afternoon, to have a look at the etchings of Amsterdam by Mr. Whistler. There are only eight of them, I think, but they are eight of the most exquisite renderings by the most independent man of the century ... Another there was, of a stretch of country looking across a canal, windmills beyond, drawn as no one since Rembrandt could have done it, and in his plate the greatest of modern etchers has pitted himself against the greatest of the ancients, and has come through only too successfully for Rembrandt. There are three or four others, I understand not yet published; but this, certainly is the gem so far ... Had Mr. Whistler never put brush to canvas, he has done enough in these plates to be able to say that he will not altogether die." 13
This was written in 1890, and the Pennells admitted in their biography of Whistler in 1908, 'This is very youthful, but it expressed J.'s opinion when we hardly knew Whistler personally; we never heard that he disapproved of it; and we are glad to resurrect it to-day.' 14

14: ibid., p. 86.

Whistler's chief print dealers in America, H. Wunderlich & Co., exhibited an impression in 1898 and the London dealers, Obach & Co., showed one in 1903. 15

An impression was lent by Walter Steuben Carter (1824-1904) to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893; Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) lent to the Grolier Club in 1890 (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160203) and another was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) to the show organised by the Caxton Club in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160202). 16 In 1899 Whistler himself exhibited an impression at the ISSPG, of which he was President (possibly Graphic with a link to impression #K4160204). 17

Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent one to the first Annual Exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1902, and to an exhibition in Boston in 1904. 18 This was among the several Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death. Exhibitions followed at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, in Paris in 1905; in London, lent by H.R.H. the Princess Victoria also in 1905 (possibly Graphic with a link to impression #K4160214); and in Rotterdam, lent by John Charles Sigismund Day (1826-1908), in 1906. 19


16: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2269 [1681]); New York 1890a; Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 234).

17: London ISSPG 1899 (cat. no. 242).

18: Philadelphia 1902 (cat. no. 947 [268]); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 197).

19: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 268); Rotterdam 1906 (cat. no. 82).


The price of Zaandam was set at £10.10.0. Whistler first sold an impression at this price on 17 February 1890 to Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851), who exhibited it with other Amsterdam etchings in his galleries. 20 Messrs Dowdeswell bought one on 6 March 1890 and the Fine Art Society on 13 March. 21

At this point Whistler turned his attention to the American dealers, starting with H. Wunderlich & Co. of New York. They handled several impressions, including a fine second state on Asian paper, that was inscribed, probably by Whistler, with a tiny 'o' on the verso, possibly as a mark of quality (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160209, stock no. a 20455). Another second state, was inscribed '5. Mar. 6', and 'For Wunderlich' (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160214). This may have been the 'later state' sold to Wunderlich's on 3 April 1890. 22 A third, numbered and dated '7. Mar. 6' was also sold to Wunderlich's (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160215, stock no. a 25257).

20: Whistler to Dunthorne, GUW #13039.

21: GUW #00916; #13002.

22: B. Whistler to Wunderlich's, GUW #06585.

Other sales to art dealers followed: in April 1890, Whistler sold an impression to Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. 23 On 5 August 1890 he sent a set of eight Dutch etchings including Zaandam to Elbert Jan Van Wisselingh. (1848-1912). 24 One of these may have been the impression of Zaandam bought by Franco's Gerard Waller (b. 1867) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160211). It is now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Whistler also sold more impressions to Wunderlich's in 1890 and 1900 . 25 Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) had an impression of the second state by 1900, which probably came from Wunderlich's (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160202).

On 21 January and 26 July 1891 another print firm, Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst, bought impressions. 26 They sold one to the Königl. Kupferstichkabinett Dresden in the following year (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160213). Whistler's own attempts to sell direct to galleries did not always work. He sent Zaandam to South Kensington Museum on 2 July 1890 but they returned it on 21 August. 27

Impression: K4160203

However, he was successful in selling directly to collectors. John Postle Heseltine (1843-1929) bought one directly from the artist in March 1890. 28 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought one, reproduced above (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160203) in the spring of 1890, as did Howard Mansfield (1849-1938). 29 On 12 July 1890 Mansfield explained, 'The second impression of the Zaandam is so different from the first, and both are so interesting, that I have decided to keep both.' 30 This shows the effectiveness of Whistler's strategy, with new states, paper and ink appealing to collectors, who would then buy additional impressions.

Further private sales took place in 1891: the French Symbolist poet, Whistler's friend Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), bought one on 21 February 1891, and an American collector, Levi Ziegler Leiter (1834-1904), bought another on 22 August. 31

At auction, for once prices equalled Whistler's own prices. An impression from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) was bought at Sotheby’s, 3 March 1892 (lot 343) by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £10.0.0. Dunthorne continued to get impressions of Zaandam from Whistler as well, one on 24 December 1902 and another on 20 April 1903 - shortly before Whistler's death - for £12.12.0 each. 32 At that time there was still one left in his studio, which was bequeathed to Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160204, reproduced below).

23: 9 April, 23 June 1890, GUW #13064.

24: GUW #13239.

25: 11 August, 19 September 1890, GUW #13059; Wunderlich's to Whistler, 6 April 1900, #07322.

26: In 21 January-27 June 1891, GUW #13070.

27: GUW #13044.

28: Whistler to John Postle Heseltine (1843-1929), GUW #13093.

29: GUW #13065; #13047; Merrill 1995, p. 67, #01501.

30: 12 July 1890, GUW #03990; see also Whistler to Mansfield, 21 July [1890], #13048.

31: GUW #13007, #00920.

32: GUW #13040, #13041.

Impression: K4160204
Early collectors, apart from those mentioned above, include Ralph King (1855-1926) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160208); Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160209); Atherton Curtis (1863-1944) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160210); Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935) and Albert Henry Wiggin (1868-1951) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160216) and Herschel V. Jones (1861-1928) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4160z01).