Stevens' Boat Yard

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 56
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 154 x 229 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.48; M.47; T.83; W.48
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)


It was published in an album of Cancelled Plates ('Cancelled Set') by The Fine Art Society, London, 1879.


Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent an impression to the Union League Club in New York in 1881 as 'On a Wharf', described as 'Trial proof, never finished.' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0480102). 8

8: New York 1881 (cat. no. 56). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

Impressions were shown in the principal Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, including the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and the London show of 1905, to which one was lent by Messrs Brown & Phillips. 9

9: New York 1904a (cat. no. 40); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 38).


It is not entirely clear when and if Whistler sold impressions of this etching, because the title 'A Wharf' is vague and applicable to more than one Thames etching, such as Eagle Wharf [50].
On 16 November 1877 two impressions of an etching listed as 'Stevens & Son' were taken by Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890), who acted as intermediary in sales for Whistler. Another, this time listed as 'Stevens' was sold to Jane Noseda (b. 1813 or 1814) for £2.2.0. 10

The cancelled albums were sold to avid collectors and some museums. A group may have come on the market in 1887, when the British Museum bought a set (see Graphic with a link to impression #K0480207), as did Thomas Glen Arthur (1858-1907) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0480214). Another album, acquired by J. Littauer (fl. 1896), Munich, was sold to the Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, in 1896 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0480212).

10: Howell to Whistler, [16/21 November 1877, GUW #12740; [1877], #02181.

The uncancelled etching is very rare. Early collectors included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), and Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), who acquired a first state in the 1870s (Graphic with a link to impression #K0480102). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought a cancelled set, including this etching, in 1893 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0480202) and a first state in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0480103).
An album of the cancelled etchings was sold at auction at the A. Thibaudeau sale in 1889, and bought by Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £0.6.0. 11 It was acquired by Miss Philip in an exchange transaction, and was bequeathed to the University of Glasgow, 1958 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0480205).

11: Sotheby's, London, 13 December 1889 (lot 787 or 789).

Miss Philip also owned another set, and it is not known if this was in a bound album. A number of the cancelled prints, in this set, were cut out, and stuck onto the envelopes containing the copper plates (Graphic with a link to impression #K0480204).