The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Walter Dowdeswell, 1858-1929

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1858
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1929
Place of Death:


Walter Dowdeswell was a London art dealer. He was the son of the art dealer C. W. Dowdeswell. He had a brother Charles and a sister Eleanor.


Dowdeswell was first introduced to JW by Charles McLaren, MP and collector. In May 1884 JW held a one-man show, 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', at Dowdeswell's gallery on 133 New Bond Street, showing 38 oils, including Harmony in Brown and Gold: Old Chelsea Church (YMSM 305), Red and Blue: Lindsey Houses (YMSM 306) and Nocturne: Silver and Opal - Chelsea (YMSM 309), 26 watercolours, including A shapely leg (M.134), r.: A Lady with an admirer in church; v.: Christ with disciples; West Point cadets (M.137), Copy after Cattermole's 'Man dispensing Alms' (M.139) and r.: A Monk with a donkey, and a reclining figure; v.: a mediaeval lady, and other heads of men and women (M.140), and 3 pastels. This was the first time JW's pastels were on public display. JW designed the catalogue which contained his important 'Proposition - No. 2'. He also designed the gallery decoration calling it Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Grey. The press coverage was extensive and enthusiastic. However, many of the works were not immediately sold. A further exhibition was held in May 1886, Arrangement in Brown and Gold. This time 75 works were on display, 48 of which were watercolours. The catalogue was again designed by JW. Once again the show was not a success financially.

Dowdeswell was a significant dealer but also collector of JW's work. He owned a sketch relating to La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (YMSM 50): Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Grey: The Chinese Screen (YMSM 51) was sold by Dowdeswell at auction in February 1917. He also bought Sketch for the Portrait of Carlyle (1) (YMSM 133), and a number of drawings including Interior of a café (M.243), Fontain à Heidelberg (M.250) and The Sleeper (M.309). In 1887 Dowdeswell was appointed Honorary Secretary of the Royal Society of British Artists, of which JW was President. A number of paintings which Pennell believed to be by JW were sold by Messrs Dowdeswell at Christie's in 1917 as being by Walter Greaves, JW's pupil.


Dowdeswell, Walter, 'Whistler', Art Journal, April 1887, pp. 97-103; 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, no. 799.