Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Subjects > Etchings > Etching

The 'Adam and Eve', Old Chelsea

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 182
Date: 1878
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 175 x 302 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left (3)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: Hogarth and Son, 1879.
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 92
Catalogues: K.175; M.172; W.144
Impressions taken from this plate  (92)


The 'Adam and Eve', Old Chelsea was published by Messrs Hogarth & Son, London, in 1878. Wedmore commented: 'Issued by Hogarth at 6l. 6s. But the printing was not of Mr. Whistler's kind. The impressions are often muddy.' 20

20: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 144).

The subject was described by Marcus Bourne Huish (1843-1904) of the Fine Art Society in a letter to Whistler in March 1879: ' [the] Hogarth plate will appeal to many who like a clump of old houses & dont care for a tumble down bridge'. 21 Huish meant that The 'Adam and Eve', Old Chelsea would be preferred to Old Putney Bridge 185.

21: 14 March 1879, GUW #01098.


It was first shown at the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1879. 22 After publication by Hogarth & Son, it was exhibited by the London print dealer, Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) in 1881. It was exhibited to connoisseurs and collectors at the Union League Club in New York in the same year, lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904). 23

An impression shown in Leeds in 1893 was bought by the City Art Gallery and shown again in the following year (). 24 Impressions were included and for sale in shows at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and 1903, at Obach & Co. in London, also in 1903, and at F. Keppel & Co. in New York in 1904. Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) lent an impression to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (either or ). 25

22: London Grosvenor 1879 (cat. no. 286); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

23: New York 1881 (cat. no. 154).

24: Leeds 1894 (cat. no. 852).

25: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 126).

After Whistler's death, impressions of The 'Adam and Eve', Old Chelsea were shown at the Whistler Memorial Exhibitions, by the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, by the Copley Society in Boston in 1904, lent by Mansfield (), and, from the Royal Collection at Windsor, in London in 1905 . 26

26: New York 1904a (cat. no. 145); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 110); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 144).


The careful and comprehensive detail shown in the etching suggest that Whistler was intent on producing an important work that would appeal to buyers. After the publication by Hogarth & Son, it was exhibited by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) in 1881, for sale at £6.6.0.

Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought a rather worn impression of the third state from F. Keppel & Co. in 1893, which he mistakenly thought was a first state (). He then bought an earlier impression - a second state, with fresh drypoint burr - in 1899 from the same print dealer ().
At auction, prices were variable, ranging from £6.6.0 paid by the London print dealer Robert Dunthorne in 1892 at the sale of the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) 27 to £2.12.0 at Sotheby's on 15 December 1896, when Lot 273 was bought by Henry Nazeby Harrington (1862-1937) ().

27: Sotheby’s, 3 March 1892 (lot 228).

At the sale of the collection of Mrs Edward Fisher of Abbotsbury, Newton Abbot, in 1897 'Old Chelsea', a 'trial proof, framed' was bought by Ellis - possibly Frederick Standridge Ellis (1830-1901) - for £5.0.0. Three years later Ellis paid only £2.12.6 for an impression described as an 'original etching, first state, framed' from the collection of H. Virtue Tebbs. 28

By various means - purchases, gifts and bequests - impressions went to collections all over the world. The British Museum acquired an impression that was printed with slight retroussage, in 1891 (). A good clear impression of the third state (though with fading drypoint) was sold by the artist to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), and was sold by the family to the British Museum a century later, in 1973 ().

Sadly, the print acquired by the Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, in 1896 was destroyed by fire in 1944 (). However, an impression was sold by Amsler & Ruthardt, Berlin, on 2 April 1901 to the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin for 121.25 M (). Woldemar von Seidlitz (1850-1922) gave one to the the Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden in 1919 ().

Early collectors in Britain included James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1888) (); Henry Francis Herbert Thompson (1859-1944) () and Guy John Fenton Knowles (1879-1959) (). An impression shown in Leeds in 1893 was bought by the City Art Gallery (). The Trustees presented one to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 1904 (). In France, Keppel & Co. possibly sold an impression to the Cabinet des estampes, Bibliothèque nationale de France in 1903 ().

Collectors in America included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (); George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) () and Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (). The impression owned by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) passed to Harris G. Whittemore (d. ca 1937), and later came as part of the collection of Gardiner Greene Hubbard (1822-1897) to the Library of Congress (). Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) gave an impression to the Whistler House Museum in Lowell, MA () and bequeathed one to Boston Museum of Fine Arts () and Albert Henry Wiggin (1868-1951) gave one to Boston Public Library ().

28: Christie’s, 13-4 July 1897 (lot 313); Christie's, 8 March 1900 (lot 7).