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Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 29
Date: 1858
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 152 x 90 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower right
Inscribed: '1858' at lower right (5)
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 80
Catalogues: K.23; M.23; T.31; W.17
Impressions taken from this plate  (80)


Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris was never published.


Whistler is said to have been encouraged by Ralph Thomas, Sr (1803-1862) to add the figures to this etching for its fifth and final state in 1861, and it may first have been exhibited at the Thomas's print shop, 39 Old Bond Street, in that year. 17

No other exhibition is known until 1874, when an impression was included in Whistler's one man exhibition in London, and another travelled to Liverpool and elsewhere with a touring exhibition of the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890). 18 An impression was shown at the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1888, lent by Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) and shown under the title 'The Rag Shop' (probably Graphic with a link to impression #K0230z26). 19

Other impressions appeared in print dealer's shows, particularly at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and 1903. Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought two impressions from the 1898 show (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230302, Graphic with a link to impression #K0230503). 20 Two different states were shown by Obach & Co. in London, also in 1903.

Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris was exhibited by private clubs, for collectors and connoisseurs, at the Union League Club in New York in 1881, lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230401, Graphic with a link to impression #K0230538) and the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230502). 21

After Whistler's death, two impressions were lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in Boston in 1904, and one by King Edward VII to the Memorial show in London in 1905. 22 Four different states were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and a single impression in Paris, 1905. 23

17: London Thomas 1861. Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 17), not on catalogue in collection of Paul Marks.

18: London Pall Mall 1874 ( 46); Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 519).

19: Glasgow 1888 (cat. no. 2552-28)

20: New York 1898 (cat. no. 16); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

21: New York 1881 (cat. no. 25) ; Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 17).

22: Boston 1904 (cat. nos. 11, 12); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 17).

23: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 18a,b,c,d) ; Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 298)


Impression: K0230202
The British Museum bought an impression from the collection of Philippe Burty (1830-1890) in 1866 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230202, reproduced above), and further states a few years later, in 1869 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230404) and 1872 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230510). Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) owned two states, which were sold through H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230302, Graphic with a link to impression #K0230503); Freer bought several more states, from F. Keppel & Co. in 1894 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230505) and in 1901 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230402) and another from Thomas Way (1837-1915) in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230504). William Loring Andrews (1837-1927) gave one to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1883 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230514). Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) gave one - a late impression - to the Whistler House Museum in Lowell, MA. (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230541) and bequeathed one to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230528).
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) had two states of Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris, one shown in a travelling exhibition in 1874 as 'Interieur de Chiffonier', and both sold at Sotheby's in a three-day sale from 27 June 1876 (lots 687-688).
An impression of the first state was sold at auction at Christie's, 8-9 March 1892 (lot 335), again as 'Interior de Chiffonier' and bought by the London print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £2.10.0. The auction catalogue entry actually quoted the first catalogue of Whistler's etchings, by Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876), to establish the state (''first state, before the figures'; (31) in Thomas' catalogue').
Impression: K0230508
Early collectors included Percy Thomas (1846-1922) in London (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230520); Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) in New York (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230401, Graphic with a link to impression #K0230538); George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) in Paris (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230508, reproduced above; Graphic with a link to impression #K0230526) and Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) in Chicago (Graphic with a link to impression #K0230502).
A large number of impressions were sold through Sears, Roebuck & Co. in the 1960s, when the firm invited the film star Vincent Price to acquire original art works for their Fine Art Section. The Vincent Price Collection first went on sale in October 1962 in Denver, Colorado, and expanded to stores nationwide. It was a great success with the general public. Special catalogues were issued in 1963 and 1964, and in 1966, the Sears Vincent Price Gallery of Fine Art was opened in Chicago. The Vincent Price Collection was discontinued in 1971. 24

In an instructional film for Sears-Roebuck employees, Vincent Price described (in his seductive voice, with undertones of Edgar Allen Poe, and Roger Corman's The Raven) his acquisition of some 2000 words, saying 'There is no excitement in the world like the excitement of owning an original work of art' and art is 'the ultimate in home furnishing!' 25

The Collection included numerous impressions of Whistler's Rag Pickers, Quartier Mouffetard, Paris, sold under the title 'Rag Gatherers'. Many of these have been sold through sale-rooms, art- dealers more recently and can be viewed online.

Impression: K0230509

Most have the original Vincent Price Collection labels on the backboard. The impression reproduced above - possibly bought in Winnipeg, Canada in the early 1960s - has the Sears stock number GE 15805. Another, with the stock number GE 15897, was originally priced at $25; it was sold in 2008 by Myers Fine Art in Florida. 26 Another with stock number GE 16376 was at the Kodner Galleries, Palm Beach in 2010; 27 Another was sold by Leland Little Auction & Estate Sales, Ltd., Hillsborough NC, in 2009; the lot included this etching, under the title 'Little Rag Gatherers', and La Vieille aux Loques [27], both from the Vincent Price Collection. 28

Other impressions from the Vincent Price Collection were made by the Apple Tree Auction Centre, July 2004 (Lot 5345); Weschler's, Washington DC in 2011 (Lot 746), Bonhams, San Francisco, in 2004, and many more art dealers and auction houses. 29

24: http:// (accessed February 2012).

25: 'The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art' in Classic TV Commercials, (acc. Feb. 2012).

26: 30 Nov. 2008 (Lot 46), listed in (acc. Feb. 2012).

27: catalogue/ 041410 No.52 (acc. Feb. 2012).

28: 13-14 June 2009 (Lot 536) at (acc. Feb. 2012).

29: (accessed Feb. 2012).Bonhams, 19 Oct. 2004 (Lot 70) at (acc. Feb. 2012).