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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)
Speke Hall: The Avenue was started in 1870. 'Whistler 1870 - ' is etched, rather indistinctly, on the copper plate (the '0' is unclear). The butterfly, added in the eighth state, is of a later date, possibly about 1876.
Whistler and his mother first visited Speke Hall near Liverpool, which was rented by Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), in September 1869. The artist stayed there for several months from August 1870, painting Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland y097, but, as Mrs Whistler wrote, 'of course as his friend Mr [Leyland] goes in & out to his business house in Liverpool daily, the Artist cannot confine himself to his Easel as he does too closely in his own Studio here'. 1 Judging by the bare trees, Speke Hall was started in the winter and possibly in November 1870. On 4 November his mother wrote again:
'I hope my dear Jemie is not hindered by fog, he certainly could not see to paint if here today! but Speke Hall is in the open Country and near the Sea, & Mr Leyland has often remarked on the contrast of the clear atmosphere he left there in his visits to this metropolis'. 2