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Finette

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
(1898.293)
Number: 61
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 293 x 202 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right (3); replaced with new 'Whistler.' at lower right (4-final)
Inscribed: '1859 -' at lower right (3); replaced with new '1859.' at lower right (4-final)
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 14
Known impressions: 38
Catalogues: K.58; M.58; T.56; W.54
Impressions taken from this plate  (38)

PUBLICATION

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

EXHIBITIONS

It was first shown by James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in a touring show in Liverpool and elsewhere in 1874 under the title 'Finette – with a View of Paris from the Window'. 26

To the Union League Club in New York in 1881, Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent three impressions, listed as 'Early trial proof; very rare.' (), 'The same. With additional work; very rare.' () and finally, 'The same. The finished state.' () 27 In 1888, Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) lent an impression to the Glasgow International Exhibition (). 28

The artist clearly thought highly of Finette, and when Howard Mansfield (1849-1938), was organising an exhibit of the artist's etchings for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893, Whistler specifically asked him to include Finette. Unfortunately, as Mansfield explained, he had no frame available. 29

26: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 529); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

27: New York 1881 (cat. nos. 75-77).

28: Glasgow 1888 (cat. no. 2552-11)

29: Mansfield to Whistler, 15 May 1893, GUW #04002.

Impressions were shown a few years later, in 1898, at the sale of the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York, where they were snapped up by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (, ). 30 Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent an impression to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (). 31 Rather less known, an impression was shown at an international exhibition in Wolverhampton in 1902.

Finally impressions were shown in the principal Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death. Four states were on shown at the comprehensive exhibition held in New York at the Grolier Club in 1904, including one proof lent by Freer (), and one, lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938), in Boston, also in 1904. 32 Finally, another impression was lent, by King Edward VII, to the London Memorial show in 1905. 33

30: New York 1898 (cat. no. 51).

31: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 50).

32: New York 1904a (cat. no. 56); Boston 1904 (cat. no. ?48)

33: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 54).

SALES & COLLECTORS

Etching: c_K058_01
Nadar, Finette, photograph, 1860s.
Whistler Collection, Glasgow University Library, Special Collections.
Photographs of the popular star were sold in print shops in Paris and London. Whistler owned several photographs of Finette, including the one reproduced here.
The success of the marketing of this particular drypoint is shown by the fact that in 1872, the British Museum acquired fine impressions of the fifth and 13th state from Edmund Thomas (1842-1883) (, ), richly inked and dramatic, with prominent burr on the drypoint lines, as well as an impression in the cancelled set, in 1887 ().
In April 1876 the collection of Philippe Burty (1830-1890) was exhibited by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) in the print-shop of Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) in Haymarket, London, prior to its auction. A review by Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921) specifically mentions this drypoint ():
'Mr Burty's cabinet is richer, undoubtedly in Whistlers than in Hadens, for not only is his collection large, but it abounds in splendid impressions of the rarest states of the plates; some are indeed unique, such as Finette, the Cancan dancer, and one or two others undescribed by the enthusiast who, a year or so ago, issued at a considerable price the catalogue of Whistler's work. But mere rarity is not to be much regarded. One had better enquire what it is that the artist has done best - in what has he reached satisfactory and accomplished expression?' 34
In the following year, an impression of Finette from the Rev. Walter Field's collection fetched only 1.12.0. For an important etching, this was a comparatively low price. Worse, in 1881 a print 'on India paper' failed to meet its reserve of 1.8.0. 35

However, the rarity of the early states increased their commercial value, and it is clear that Whistler printed only one or two proofs of some states. At some time Whistler gave an impression to a collector, McDougal Smith (). He also kept some early proofs for himself and sold them for higher prices. Ralph Thomas commented:

35: Sotheby's, 12 June 1877 (lot 102); Christie's, 23 March 1881 (lot 195).

'The early states of all the drypoints, as I have stated elsewhere, are not to be had; but I believe that the artist might be induced, in exchange for a certain crisp piece of paper with the figure ten inscribed thereon, to part with one of his jealously guarded proofs of this splendid drypoint. ' 36
At auction in 1887 an impression from the collection of John W. Wilson was bought by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) for a good price, 12.12.0. 37 Later in the same year Whistler's son Charles Hanson offered impressions of Finette to the Glasgow dealers Craibe Angus & Son, writing:

37: Sotheby's. 23 April 1887 (lot 407).

'Re Old Etchings Mr Whistler has two splendid proofs in fine condition of Finette, The first in the finished state, the second in the first state, very rare, before the landscape through the window, vide Wedmore's catalogue No. 54[.] For the first he will take twenty guineas, for the second thirty guineas, or for the two forty five guineas. On this transaction with him Mr Whistler allows you no discount, as they are rare works by themselves, which you can sell for what you like, being different to the current etching, for which he allows you 20% in order that you may sell them at his own fixed prices.' 38
The dealers demurred: 'We shall keep the copy in first State, altho' the price is very [high] for us, as dealers, to pay. We have returned, per Registered Post, the copy - ["]fine proof"'. 39 Whistler attempted to retrieve the first proof or ensure that Craibe Angus took both impressions:

39: C. Angus, 21 December 1887, GUW #00180.

'You must not think that I should not be always very much pleased to do business with you, and willing to take into consideration, as much as possible, the circumstances you describe as making difficulties for you; but in this matter of the etchings you must see that the case is a very clear one. No sooner had the proofs of Finette been packed off to you than a client (a dealer) who had once seen them but hesitated, came back to say that he would take the two proofs at my price - he always pays cash on the spot. Now on this special transaction why spoil my sale? You wont take the two proofs and you have not sent me a cheque for the one you keep. ' 40
Despite this appeal, it appears that Craibe Angus's client did not buy the second impression.
Two impressions from the collection of the lateJoshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) were sold at auction at Sotheby's in 1892 and bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst for 15.15.0. for what was described as a 'first state' and 3.5.0 for a 'third state'. 41 The latter was later acquired by the Royal Collection, and sold by Edward VII through Agnew's in 1906 ().

41: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lots 104-5).

Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), with the focussed obsessiveness typical of his collecting, and having started with the cancelled set in 1893, acquired three rare early states from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) through Wunderlich's in 1898 (, , ) and a good impression of the seventh state ().
The prices Whistler obtained for Finette continued to be high, and the New York print dealers, H. Wunderlich & Co., for instance, paid 25.0.0 for one print plus a cancelled impression in March 1899. This was one of the highest prices paid for any etching sold by Whistler during his lifetime. 42

42: Wunderlich's to Whistler, 24 March 1899, GUW #07305.

Early collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (, , ); Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) (); Hermann Heinrich Meier (1845-1905), Bremen, whose wife gave it to the Kunsthalle Bremen ();Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) () and George Washington Vanderbilt (1862-1914) (, ).
Surviving impressions from the cancelled plate are often in the album as published in 1879. For instance, the British Museum bought an album in 1887 (), and Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought his set from Knoedler & Co. in 1893. Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) also acquired a set in 1887 () which later went to Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Other early owners included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) whose set went to the Baltimore Museum of Art ().
Prices were low but collectors and collections were keen to have the set of cancelled etchings, as a record of a substantial number of otherwise unrecorded etchings and drypoints. A set, probably acquired from the Fine Art Society by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892), was auctioned in 1889 and bought by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for 0.6.0. 43 Dunthorne exchanged it for other works with Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) who bequeathed it to the University of Glasgow (see ). She acquired another set, trimmed the impressions and stuck them on the envelopes containing the copper plates (i.e. ).

43: Sotheby's, London, 13 December 1889 (lot 787 or 789)