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A Lady at a Window

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 148
Date: 1875/1877
Medium: drypoint
Size: 235 x 160 mm
Signed: butterfly at right (3-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 19
Catalogues: K.138; M.135
Impressions taken from this plate  (19)


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


A Lady at a Window was not exhibited in Whistler's lifetime, as far as is known, but an impression was shown at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905. 9

9: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 111).


Only two impressions of this drypoint before cancellation have been located, and both were owned by Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938), and sold through Obach & Co. in London to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in 1903 (, ). Another impression, owned by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938), has not been located ().
After the publication of Wedmore's catalogue of Whistler's etchings in 1886, Messrs Dowdeswell ordered a vast number of impressions of etchings, including this, but no impression of it was available, since the plate had been cancelled at the time of Whistler's bankruptcy. 10

10: Dowdeswell's to Whistler, 4 February 1887, GUW #00888.

Most known impressions come from the set of Cancelled Plates. 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 a 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. Early owners included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (), whose incomplete set eventually went to Baltimore Museum of Art. Boston Public Library also acquired a set (). A set acquired by J. Littauer, Munich was sold to the Hamburger Kunsthalle in 1896 ().
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. 11 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, and as a result many are badly soiled (i.e. ).

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