The Miser

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 17
Date: 1858/1859
Medium: drypoint
Size: 120 x 161 mm
Signed: 'Whistler -' at lower left (7)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 12
Catalogues: K.69; M.69; T.62; W.65
Impressions taken from this plate  (12)
The Miser is based on a drawing, Chambre à la ferme de Maladrie [m0229], made during Whistler's etching tour of Alsace and the Rhineland between 14 August and 7 October 1858. On the whole Whistler's French copper plates of 1858 were etched, but he used drypoint to develop some etched plates for the 'French Set' (i.e. La Vieille aux Loques [27]). However The Miser could have been developed from the drawing after Whistler's return to Paris. This would suggest a date of late 1858 or very early 1859.

In fact Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876) asserted that it 'was etched in London by the artist from a sketch made in Paris.' 1 This would suggest a date in 1859. The copper plate is exactly the same size as the plate for Reading by Lamplight [37], which probably dates from early 1859, and was developed in both etching and drypoint. It is close in size to several other plates including etchings such as Venus [60], which is also dated 1859.

1: Thomas 1874 (cat. no. 62).

The Miser could well be the first of Whistler's plates that was developed purely in drypoint. Other drypoints dating from 1859 are all portraits, namely Z. Astruc, Editor of 'L'Artiste' [36], Whistler with a hat [44], Fumette standing [59], Fumette's Bent Head [58] and Arthur Haden [66].

Joseph Pennell (1860-1926) was mistaken in thinking that The Miser was done in Brittany at the same time as The Forge [86] in 1861, as was Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), who wrongly associated it with 1861 etchings. 2

2: J. Pennell, draft catalogue of Whistler's etchings, Library of Congress, Pennell Collection, Box 353; Kennedy 1910 (cat. no. 69).