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Speke Hall: The Avenue

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 101
Date: 1870-1878
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 228 x 152 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower right (1-12); butterfly lower left (11-12); both removed (13-final)
Inscribed: '1870. / Speke Hall.' at lower right
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 14
Known impressions: 22
Catalogues: K.96; M.95; W.86
Impressions taken from this plate  (22)
Etching: PK096_01
The copper plate bears the oval stamp of 'HUGHES & KIMBER / MANUFACTURERS / LONDON E.C.' on the verso. Hughes & Kimber were the coppersmiths most favoured by Whistler. This is the stamp found on twelve surviving copper plates that were etched between 1870/1873 (Speke Hall: The Avenue, The Silk Dress 151, Reading a Book 112, The Beach, Hastings 150, Tillie: A Model 113, Resting 111, Miss Alexander 117, The Guitar Player (M.W. Ridley) 124, The Piano 144, Shipbuilder's Yard, Liverpool 142, London Bridge 172, and Little Smithfield 154). Two of these are Leyland/Speke Hall subjects (Speke Hall: The Avenue and Shipbuilder's Yard, Liverpool 142). Two of the plates are 127 x 77 mm (Reading a Book 112, Resting 111) and five are 159 x 235 mm (Reading a Book 112, The Beach, Hastings 150, Tillie: A Model 113, Miss Alexander 117 and The Piano 144).
The size of copper plate used for Speke Hall: The Avenue, was produced by Hughes & Kimber over a long period, and was much used by Whistler. Hughes & Kimber plates, of similar size, but with a rectangular stamp, are found on Mrs Leyland, Sr. 123 and on slightly later etchings, such as Maud, Standing 169 and Nude Woman Standing, hand on hip 114. Furthermore, a third group of Hughes & Kimber plates, of similar size, was used both earlier and later (Landscape with Fisherman 085, Pickle Herring Wharf 164).
The copper plate of Speke Hall went through many revisions over a long period, and shows signs of this, with pitting, particularly at the top edge, and hammer-marks and scoring on the verso.
The plate was given by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) to the University of Glasgow in 1935. It is not known if she inherited it from Whistler or if it was sold at the time of his bankruptcy and later retrieved by her from the London print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851). It was cancelled posthumously with a diagonal line from upper left to lower right.