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Sketches on the Coast Survey Plate

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 1
Date: 1854
Medium: etching
Size: 149 x 253 mm
Signed: 'J.W.' at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 28
Catalogues: K.1; M.1; T.-
Impressions taken from this plate  (28)


It was not published.


Two impressions were included in the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 as 'Coast Survey – Whistler’s first plate', lent by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) () and Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (). 20

20: Chicago 1900 (cat. nos. 235, 235a). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

Impressions were also shown at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905, with one impression lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934), and, in a case, a proof printed by Frederick Goulding (1842-1909), plus the copper plate itself. 21

21: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 400).


The earliest known impression of this etching was cut up by the artist, and fragments containing individual figures and vignettes, as well as the coastal scene, were pasted into an album owned by Thomas de Kay Winans (1820-1878) (, ). The album includes sketches done at West Point that relate to the etching in style and subject, such as r.: Dress parade; v.: Cadets at West Point m0099.
The first known sale of this etching, under the title 'The Coast Survey Sketches', was an impression from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), sold at Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 44).
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought three impressions, the first from Frederick Keppel & Co., New York (). The second - possibly an earlier impression, from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) - was bought by Freer from H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, in November 1898 (). The third, a later impression, possibly from the posthumous edition, was bought from William Keeney Bixby (1857-1931) in 1913 (), when Freer also bought the copper plate itself. 22

22: Receipts, Keppel, 14 April 1897; Freer, 19 April 1897; Bixby, 18 December 1913; FGA Art Vouchers.

Early collectors and collections included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (); John Henry Wrenn (1841-1911) (); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) by 1900 (); the British Museum in 1903 (); Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913) (); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (); and James A. McCallum (1862-1948) ().