irving as philip


James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834 Lowell, Massachusetts – London 1903), Irving as Philip of Spain, No. 2   1876/77,   drypoint and etching on tissue-thin Chine;

plate: 224 x 152 mm (8 13/16 x 6 inches)

sheet: 364 x 272 mm (14 5/16 x 10 11/16 inches)

inscribed by Whistler in pencil at lower right: very rare_ / printed by the “Maud”_

Kennedy 171, third state (of four); Glasgow 159 third state (of six)


Howard Mansfield, New York (Lugt 1342)

Harris G. Whittemore, Naugatuck, Connecticut (Lugt 1384a)

private Collection


A rare print before cancellation. Glasgow notes that 22 impressions have been accounted for; however, the great majority of these are from the cancelled plate.

Maud Franklin was of course Whistler’s model and mistress; she was an artist, and, as indicated here, apparently did some printing for Whistler.  It is interesting that several of the pre-cancellation proofs shown in the Glasgow catalog show very irregular wiping patterns, perhaps characteristic of an inexperienced printer (i.e., Maud).  Our impression too has been wiped irregularly, especially towards the right side and around Irving’s legs. But selective wiping is evident; the figure has been wiped rather cleanly highlighting it against a background of plate tone.

The Glasgow catalog notes that this print “is closely related to Whistler’s oil painting, Arrangement in Black, No. 3: Sir Henry Irving as Philip II of Spain [y187], painted in 1876. Another version of the same drypoint is Irving as Philip of Spain, No. 1 [G 158].   Henry Irving (1838-1905) was an actor, the subject of many portraits and paintings. 


Detail – Whistler’s inscription; Mansfield and Whittmore marks showing through