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Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 240
Date: 1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 127 x 177 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left, faint butterfly upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 9
Known impressions: 29
Catalogues: K.233; M.230; W.162
Impressions taken from this plate  (29)


anvil, cart, forge, interior, man, wheelwright, worker.


It has almost always been known by the same title, as for example:

'Wheelwright' (1883, F.A.S.). 2
'Wheelwright' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 3

2: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 3).

3: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 162).


The interior of a wheelwright's workshop, with skylights in the peaked roof, and with cross-beams, on which material is stored. In the foreground at the right, near an anvil, a man is bending over a wheel. Beyond him a man stands holding a wheel upright. At the extreme right two men are at work by a forge. In the distance, two men are bending forward in front of a large wheel at the right, and a man stands in front of a bench at the left. At the far end of the workshop is a large covered wagon.


Probably London, or in the south of England.


Forges, furnaces and smiths are a recurrent subject in Whistler's work, providing dramatic lighting and complex figure compositions - and a nice warm place to work. These include several etchings (The Forge [86], Nocturne: Furnace [208], Murano - Glass Furnace [205], The Smithy [239] and Flaming Forge [490]). Numerous lithographs show similar subjects (The Tyresmith [c036], The Whitesmiths, Impasse des Carmélites [c092], The Forge, Passage du Dragon [c102], The Smith, Passage du Dragon [c103], The Master Smith [c120], The Sunny Smithy [c121], The Good Shoe [c122], Father and Son [c123], The Strong Arm [c125], The Blacksmith [c127] and The Brothers [c128]). In addition there are several related drawings (Study for 'The Little Forge' (K.147) [m0574], Sketch of 'The Whitesmiths, Impasse des Carmélites' [m1417], Sketches of 'The Forge: Passage du Dragon' and 'The Smith: Passage du Dragon' [m1450], r.: The Blacksmith's, Howth; v.: Horse in a stable [m1619], r.: The Forge; v.: Smiths, Ajaccio [m1679], The Flaming Forge, Ajaccio [m1678]). Finally there is one later oil painting, The Little Forge, Lyme Regis [y442].