Nov 12, 2020 - Sale 2550

Sale 2550 - Lot 163

Price Realized: $ 12,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
The Hangman's House, Tours.

Etching and drypoint printed in dark brownish black on antique, cream laid paper, 1888. 135x99 mm; 5 1/2x4 inches. MacDonald's third state (of 3). Signed with the butterfly and inscribed "imp" in pencil on the tab, lower left. Ex-collection Robert Hartshorne (Lugt 2215b, verso); thence by descent to the current owners. A superb impression of this exceedingly scarce etching with strong contrasts.

MacDonald cites only 6 known impressions of this subject. We have not found another impression at auction in the past 30 years.

According to MacDonald, "Whistler was probably encouraged to explore this subject by Henry James (1843-1916), whose book, A Little Tour in France, was published in 1885," in which James described the Gothic structure as, "The dwelling to which the average Anglo-Saxon will most promptly direct his steps . . . is the so-called Maison de Tristan l'Hermitte, a gentleman whom the readers of 'Quentin Durward' will not have forgotten, the hangman-in-ordinary to the great King Louis XI." Tristan l'Hermitte was a minor character in Sir Walter Scott's Quentin Durward, 1823, which Whistler had enjoyed since his cadet days at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (he'd drawn illustrations to the work in the 1850s). Henry James specifically asked Whistler for an impression of this work, but there were none available at the time and it's unclear as to whether Whistler ever fulfilled his request. Kennedy 376; Glasgow 393.