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Greenwich Pensioner

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 40
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 99 x 136 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: 'Greenwich - 1859.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 34
Catalogues: K.34; M.33; T.15; W.32
Impressions taken from this plate  (34)


Published in an album of Cancelled Plates ('Cancelled Set') by The Fine Art Society, London, 1879.


In 1874 an impression was included in Whistler's first one-man show in London, and also in the travelling exhibition of the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in Liverpool and elsewhere. 11 A few years later, a 'Fine Proof' was shown in the Union League Club in New York in 1881, lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (). 12 Others appeared for sale in two print dealer's exhibitions, one at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 (), which was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919)) and another in 1903. 13

Impressions were also shown in the Memorial Exhibitions held after Whistler's death, in Boston and at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and in London in 1905, to which one was lent 'From His Majesty's Collection' (). 14

11: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 45); Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 515).

12: New York 1881 (cat. no. 48).

13: New York 1898 (cat. no. 31). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

14: Boston 1904; New York 1904a (cat. no. 34); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 32).


A second state of Greenwich Pensioner was among the first of Whistler's etchings to be sold to a public collection. It was among 16 etchings sold for a total of £10.10.10 by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) to South Kensington Museum (now the V&A) on 1 January 1861 (). 15 Haden owned another impression, which was sold through H. Wunderlich & Co. to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in 1898 (). Freer had already bought another early impression from Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) in 1895 (), and Mansfield bought one for himself, possibly at the same time ().

In 1877 Whistler sold an impression of 'Pensioner' to Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890) for only £1.1.0. 16 It is not known who acquired this later. Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) owned an early impression by 1881, and it went with his collection to the New York Public Library (). The same Library received a second impression, which had come originally from the Royal Collection, and had been sold through Agnew's, Wunderlich's and Obach & Co. in 1906, before being given to the Library by Lydia Hays (). Jules Gerbeau (d. 1906) and Jean Louis Henri Le Secq (Des Tournelles) (1818-1882) were the owners of another good impression, which later passed from the collection of Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art ().

Greenwich Pensioner was fairly rare, but apparently not greatly valued. In 1892, at the auction of the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), an impression was bought by Deprez & Gutekunst for only £1.2.0. 17

Collectors of the cancelled set included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (); the British Museum, who bought it in 1887 (); Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907), also by 1887 (); Freer, who bought it from Knoedler & Co. in 1893 (); and the Hamburger Kunsthalle, purchased from J. Littauer (fl. 1896) in 1896 (). One set sold at the Thibaudeau sale at Sotheby's, 13 December 1889 (lot 787 or 789), was bought by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £0.6.0; it was later acquired in exchange for other artworks by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), who bequeathed it to the University of Glasgow, 1958 (i.e. ). Another set was cut up and the battered impressions were stuck on the envelopes containing the copper plates, and given by Miss Philip to the Hunterian ()

15: V&A Register of Prints, p. 32.

16: [6-15 November 1877], GUW #02178.

17: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 81).