Eagle Wharf

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 50
Date: 1859
Medium: etching
Size: 140 x 217 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' below centre
Inscribed: '1859.' at lower centre
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 73
Catalogues: K.41; M.40; T.40; W.39
Impressions taken from this plate  (73)


Eagle Wharf was published in A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames (the 'Thames Set'), by Ellis & Green in 1871.


It was exhibited with the 'Thames Set' in London in 1861. 20 Shortly afterwards, it was shown at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1862. 21

After publication, it was exhibited with the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890) in Liverpool and elsewhere, and in Whistler's one-man show in London in 1874. 22

Later, impressions were shown by private clubs such as the Union League Club in New York in 1881 (lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904)) and the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, to which Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent an impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410102). 23 Other impressions starred in numerous big loan and international shows, including Philadelphia in 1879 and 1902, Dresden in 1896, Hanover in 1896, and Wolverhampton and Philadelphia in 1902. Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent his impression to the latter (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410146). 24

The print dealer, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), lent one to the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 (possibly Graphic with a link to impression #K0410142). 25 Several print dealer's shows included important works from major collections. Impressions from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) and Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) were on sale by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and 1903. 26 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought a cancelled impression in a set from F. Keppel & Co., New York, in 1896 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410201), and an uncancelled impression from Wunderlich's in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410104). Another impression, possibly from the edition printed by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912), was on show at Keppel's in 1902 and a 'Trial proof' was shown by Obach & Co. in London in 1903.

Impressions were also shown in the principal Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, in New York, Boston and Paris, and including one lent by King Edward VII to the London exhibition in 1905. 27

20: London Thomas 1861.


22: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 497); London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 13).

23: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 37).

24: Philadelphia 1902 (cat. no. 942 (39).

25: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2216).

26: New York 1898 (cat. no. 36); New York 1903b (cat. no. 33).

27: New York 1904a (cat. no. 41); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 33); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 309); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 39).


Eagle Wharf was among the first of Whistler's etchings to be sold to a public collection. It was then listed as 'Tyzac Whiteley' 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 #K0410153). 28

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

Etchings by both Haden and Whistler figured in the important collection of Philippe Burty (1830-1890). In April 1876 Burty's collection was exhibited by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) in the print-shop of Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) in Haymarket, London, prior to its auction. Wedmore's review specifically mentions this etching:
'Mr. Whistler, in some of the Thames-side etchings - abounding in M. Burty's collection - has reached a certain grim and every-day reality, which the imaginative artist [Charles Méryon (1821-1868)] did not seek for first, since he made the ugliness of the Morgue surroundings visibly tragic, and the beams of the Pompe beautiful ... Mr Burty's cabinet is richer, undoubtedly in Whistlers than in Hadens, for not only is his collection large, but it abounds in splendid impressions of the rarest states of the plates ... His work is without the poetical feeling of Mr Haden, who could make a little poem out of the simple materials of Egham lock; but it is for the most part a strange realism, persuading one that it is accurate; and the absence of anything approaching to atmospheric effect - to gradations of distance - is true enough to Mr. Whistler's favourite Thames-side haunts, Wapping and Rotherhithe in a thick and dampened air.' 29

29: F. Wedmore, 'M. Burty's collection', The Academy , 29 April 1876, pp. 414-415.

An impression of Eagle Wharf, on a greenish off-white paper, had been bought from Burty by the British Museum in 1866 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410112). Another impression, on more conventional ivory laid paper, was bought by a patron of Whistler, Arthur Haythorne Studd (1863-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410110) who bequeathed it to the B.M. in 1929 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410110). Finally a third impression, this time on a fibrous pale grey paper, described by the artist as an 'Early proof', was signed by Whistler for William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), bequeathed to his daughter, Rachel, and sold by her executors to the B.M. for a nominal amount in 1973 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410111). 30

One of the finest impressions of Eagle Wharf was in the 'Thames Set' acquired by Constantine Alexander Ionides (1833-1900), and bequeathed to the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1901 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410159). It forms an interesting contrast to the good but less strong impression given by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912), to a collector, Hans Velten (1857?-1930), in 1899 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410158), which was bequeathed to the same Museum many years later.

Other public collections benefitted from the generosity of collectors such as James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1888), whose small but select collection was left to the Orchar Gallery, Dundee and is now in the McManus Gallery (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410115) and James Smith (1831-1923), whose wide-ranging bequest to the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, included an impression of Eagle Wharf (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410136).

In America, Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), acquired a signed copy from Whistler, which eventually helped to form the basis for the print collection of New York Public Library (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410157). Whistler also signed an impression for George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), which joined the Lucas collection in Baltimore Museum of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410108). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) acquired a cancelled impression in a set from Frederick Keppel & Co., New York, in 1896 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410201), and two years later he acquired an uncancelled impression, through Wunderlich's, from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0410104). These went with Freer's incomparable collection to the Freer Gallery of Art.

30: Report of Gere, Keeper of the Print Room, 17 August 1973, Trustees' Reports, British Museum.