Thames Warehouses

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 46
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 77 x 204 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower right
Inscribed: '1859.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 63
Catalogues: K.38; M.37; T.42; W.35
Impressions taken from this plate  (63)


It was published as 'Thames Warehouses' in A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on The Thames and other Subjects (the 'Thames Set') by Messrs Ellis & Green in 1871.


When it was first shown, at the Royal Academy in 1860, F.G. Stephens wrote: 'By this gentleman, whose name is quite new to us, is an admirable series of etchings,' which, he added 'are placed in the Octagon Room' including 'The Thames from the Tunnel Pier'. 20 It was then exhibited in the following year with the rest of the 'Thames Set' at the shop of Edmund Thomas (1842-1883) in London in 1861. 21

In the winter of 1865-1866 Whistler made a cryptic note, ' "Limehouse" / Batt. Dawn./ Warehouses / Black Lion Wharf', in his diary-cum-notebook, but it is not known whether this was a record of sales or exhibition plans. 22

After publication in 1871, it was exhibited by James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in Liverpool and elsewhere and by Whistler himself, in London in 1874. 23 Impressions had been shown in International exhibitions in Paris and London in 1862, and were exhibited later in Philadelphia, in 1879. According to the Pennells: 'Thames Warehouses and Black Lion Wharf won him immediate recognition as "the most admirable etcher of the present day," when sent to South Kensington Museum where International Exhibitions were held during several years.' 24

20: 'The Royal Academy', The Athenaeum, 19 May 1860, p. 685. London RA 1860 (cat. no. 944).

21: London Thomas 1861; see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

22: Whistler, notes, [November 1865/January 1866], GUW #04335.

23: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 493); London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 16).

24: Pennell 1908, I, p. 97.

Impressions also appeared in print dealer's exhibitions, including those of Craibe Angus in Glasgow in 1879, and in New York, with Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. in 1902 and H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1903.

It also appeared in shows for connoisseurs and collectors at the Union League Club in New York in 1881, lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0380101) 25 and at the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0380202). 26

Finally it was shown in the principal Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, including Boston and the Grolier Club, New York in 1904, and in London (lent by King Edward VII) and Paris in 1905. 27

25: New York 1881 (cat. no. 53).

26: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 34).

27: New York 1904a (cat. no. 37); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 35).


Whistler gave etchings of Greenwich and the Thames - possibly including this etching - to Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) to give to their friends in Paris in 1859. Fantin reported:
'j'ai donné a Valton ton Eau forte de Greenwich celle que tu as faites avec moi, puis celle de la tamise a Sinet, oh ils sont très content on me charge de te dire bien des choses, ... il y a chez Ernest une Eau forte pour lui et une pour Drouet.' 28

28: GUW #01074.

Translated, this reads: 'I gave Valton your etching of Greenwich the one which you did with me, then the one of the Thames to Sinet, oh they are very pleased and have asked me to send you their best wishes, ... at Ernest's there is an etching for him and one for Drouet.'
Fantin, with the painters Edmond Eugène Valton (1836-1910), and Louis René Sinet had formed the 'Société des vrais bons' in the autumn of 1858, but this was replaced by the 'Société des Trois' (Fantin, Legros and Whistler) in the spring of 1859.
Whistler appears to have given other early impressions as gifts, including a third state to his mother (Graphic with a link to impression #K0380204).

A first state of The Pool was among the first of Whistler's etchings to be sold to a public collection. It was then listed as ''Frederick Vink, Wharfinger' among 16 etchings sold for a total of £10.10.10 by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) to South Kensington Museum on 1 January 1861 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0380104). 29 H. Stewart Cundell described an impression bought in 1874 among the 'scanty collection of modern etchings in the British Museum' as 'full of life.' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0380120). 30

James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) had three impressions of Thames Warehouses in a travelling exhibition in 1874 and sold at Sotheby's as 'View of the Thames from Thames Tunnel Pier', 27-9 June 1876 (lots 707-9). In subsequent years it is often difficult to distinguish Thames Warehouses from other etchings of the Thames, and often it was sold as part of the 'Thames Set'. For instance, full sets sold at Sotheby's for £14.0.0 in 1877, 31 and at Christie's for £18.18.0 in 1878, £11.11.0 in 1881 and £29.0.0 (from the collection of Mrs Edward Fisher) in 1897. 32

Sold individually, prices were marginally higher, and in the latter sale, lot 312, a single impression of Thames Warehouses under the title of 'Fred. Vinck & Co.' was bought by Colnaghi's, London dealers, for £2.0.0.

Early Thames etchings were bought in Britain by Alexander Constantine Ionides (1810-1890), Arthur Thomas (dates unknown), and Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), and in France by George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), and Edmond Gosselin (1849-1917). Thomas's impression, an 'early proof on old Dutch paper', was sold at Sotheby's in 1873 and bought by Colnaghi's for £1.17.0. 33 Gosselin's impression of Thames Warehouses was bought back by the artist on 9 May 1887 for 70 francs and sold to the Glasgow print dealer William Craibe Angus (1830-1899) for £8.8.0 on 26 August. 34 Hutchinson's 'early proof' was bought by the London print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851), at Sotheby's in 1892 for £2.6.0. 35

29: V&A Register of Prints, p. 32.

30: 'English Etching', The Standard, London, 25 April 1878, p. 2 (GUL PC1/94).

31: Rev. J. B. James sale, 31 May 1877 (lot 5391), bought by 'Smith'.

32: 30 March 1878 (lot 495), bought by F.A.S.; 8 March 1881 (lot 456), 'Taylor'; 13-14 July 1897 (lot 315), 'Parsons'.

33: 23 June 1873 (lot 128).

34: GUW #13098, #00175.

35: 3 March 1892 (lot 84).