The Turret Ship

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 305
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 128 x 178 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 14
Catalogues: K.321; M.316
Impressions taken from this plate  (14)


The Turret Ship was mostly done in etching, with minimal drypoint additions to the horizon and sea in the second state. It was sketched quickly, with short, jagged, broken and edgy lines; the nearest sailing ship, for instance, is completely missing rigging and bunting above the stern.


The first proof (annotated by Whistler) was printed in black ink on laid paper - a cream paper that makes the ink look dark brown. It is a good, clear impression, printed with very light tone (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210106). Another first state is in dark brown ink on ivory laid paper, with light ink tone carefully wiped with sweeping curves across the foreground (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210104), and one is in black ink on off-white watermarked paper (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210105).
There is a reasonably full record of printing of the 'Naval Review Set'. Four impressions of The Turret Ship (listed as 'The Gun Boat') were printed on 23 August 1887, eleven on 26 August, and Whistler either printed more or (more likely) still had fifteen in stock on 1 September. 12

12: [18-23 August 1887], GUW #13234.

An impression of the second state, printed in dark brown ink on ivory laid paper, with the light tone carefully wiped in semi-circular sweeps, was selected by Whistler for Queen Victoria, and was annotated with two small circles on the verso (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210203) probably as a mark of quality and to help with selection of a set for the Queen. Another impression, this time in black on cream laid paper, selected for a matching album, was also marked with the small 'oo' (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210208). One impression is in dark brown on ivory laid paper with a partial watermark, possibly the Arms of Amsterdam or VRYHEYT (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210103).