The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Henry Studdy Theobald, 1847-1934

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1847.06.07
Place of Birth: Calcutta
Date of Death: 1934.06.05
Place of Death:


Sir Henry Studdy Theobald was an English barrister and collector. He was the youngest son of W. Theobald of the Calcutta Bar. In 1885 he married Anne Rogers, the oldest daughter of Edward Rogers of Goldthorn, Wolverhampton.


Theobald received his education at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was awarded a first class degree in Classics and a second class in Mathematics. He became a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, and joined the Chancery Bar. He wrote numerous books on law, especially concerning wills and the law of railway companies.

Theobald, a member of the Burlington Fine Arts Society, became from around 1870 a keen collector of Whistler's etchings, e.g. Under Old Battersea Bridge (K.176). He also began collecting Whistler's drawings and pastels in the mid 1880s. Following Whistler's one-man show at Dowdeswell's in May 1884, Theobald purchased twenty-nine framed 'small pictures' by Whistler from this London dealer on 1 July 1885 for £200. According to Theobald, in the 1880s he acquired 'some thirty or forty drawings or pastels' through Dowdeswell. These included r.: Resting; v.: Standing figure (M.381), Study of drapery (M.567), Studies for the Mummy Cloth & Notes for Dress (M.568), The Mouth of the River (M.590), The Beggars - Winter (M.727), The Staircase; note in red (M.782), Erith - Evening (M.884), Opal Beach (M.886), The Anchorage (M.887), The Bathers (M.888), Grey and silver - Pier, Southend (M.890), Violet and amber - Tea (M.897), Violet and red (M.898), Pink note - The Novelette (M.900), r.: A Note in Green; v.: Maud in bed (M.905), Harmony in violet and amber (M.906), Pink Note - Shelling Peas (M.925), Bravura in brown (M.928), Grand Canal, Amsterdam; Nocturne (M.944), Nocturne; grey and gold - Canal; Holland (M.945) and Nocturne; black and red - Back Canal, Holland (M.946).

Theobald recalled in a letter to the Pennells that Whistler would come and view the works he had bought, which were hanging on the stairway of his London home at 3 Westbourne Square: 'Whistler would stand in rapt admiration before them.' However, he also recalled that when Whistler wanted to borrow them 'it was a labour of Hercules to retrieve them'. Whistler asked for around fourteen or fifteen of Theobald's pictures for an exhibition in Paris in 1887. Of these, Theobald certainly lent Erith - Evening (M.884) and Pink note - The Novelette (M.900), and possibly many more since JW changed the titles. In 1888 Whistler asked that further pictures be lent: 'After all you have them always with you - like the poor!' (#09668). Theobald sold a group of sixteen watercolours to C. L. Freer on 20 June 1902.


Theobald, Henry Studdy, A Treatise on the Law of Wills, London, n.d.; Theobald, H. S., The Law of Land, London, 1902; Lugt, Frits, Les marques de collections de dessins et d'estampes: marques estampillèes et écrites de collections particulières et publiques; marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs; etc..., Amsterdam, 1921; Theobald, H. S., The Law of Railways, London, n.d.; Theobald, H. S., Remembrance of Things Past, 1935; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.