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Nocturne Shipping

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 206
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: drypoint
Size: 157 x 222 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 8
Catalogues: K.223; M.220; W.194
Impressions taken from this plate  (8)


Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) commented, 'In impressions of the later states a night effect is given by extensive inking of the plate,' 9 and Whistler subjugated line to tone in printing those impressions. Whistler's fine drypoint work in the early states of Nocturne Shipping was sketch-like, rendering the subject somewhat difficult to read. However, in the last two states he appears to have underinked the lines intentionally, de-emphasizing particular details of ships and buildings on the horizon in favour of an overall nocturnal effect created with ink on the surface of the plate.

9: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 220).


Comparatively few impressions have been located. A very fine, atmospheric impression, printed in warm black ink with carefully wiped surface tone, but still showing signs of the burnishing required to tidy up the plate, was inscribed '1st proof' by Whistler (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230102). Impressions of the second state are in dark brown ink on off-white laid paper (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230203) and in black ink on ivory laid paper with the watermark 'B / TH' in a decorative circle, a sheet removed from a book, with old Dutch inscriptions in brown ink on the verso (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230202). No impression of the third state has been located. A couple of later impressions are in dark brown ink on cream laid paper (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230402, Graphic with a link to impression #K2230z02), and one in a lighter brown ink on ivory laid (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230403). In some impressions of later states, heavier inking conceals the fact that the drypoint lines had worn down. The effects range from a nocturne (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230z02), to warm twilight (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230402).