Father and Son


James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Father and Son, 1895, lithograph, signed with the butterfly in pencil [also signed with the butterfly in the stone upper left]. Reference: Spink 123, Way 87. In good condition, with margins (slight browning at edges, cataloguer’s notations at margin edges), 9 1/2 x 7 inches, the sheet 12 1/2 x 8 inches. Archival matting.

A fine carefully printed lifetime impression of this very rare print.

This is the only impression we know of to appear on the market in recent history. Thomas Way, who printed Whistler’s lithographs, noted that he printed 15 impressions; we are able to account for 14 impressions in public institutions such as the Chicago Art Institute, Glasgow, Metropolitan Museum, British Museum, National Gallery in Washington, etc.

This impression is printed on ivory laid paper with the watermark Pro Patria and the letters IVDL countermark. This is Spink watermark number 232 (noting that this is a lifetime watermark).

Provenance: Birnie Philip stamp verso (Lugt 406). This is the Birnie Philip (Whistler’s sister in law) mark she used to denote the lifetime impressions in her collection.

P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London (their stock no. verso C3315044).

The two blacksmiths pictured are George Govier and his son Samuel, shown working at their shop in the seaside town of Lyme Regis, Dorset. Whistler had problems with the printing of the several lithographs he made of these blacksmiths working; Father and Son was among the better printed examples, and he chose to include it in a show of his lithographs held at the Fine Art Society on Bond Street in 1895-6.