Penny Passengers, Limehouse

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 71
Date: 1860
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 81 x 206 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 5
Catalogues: K.67; M.67; W.59
Impressions taken from this plate  (5)


Penny Passengers, Limehouse was not published.


Hardly any exhibitions of this etching have been identified, although the title may have been confused with that of other etchings. Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) may have lent one under the title 'Thames, Limehouse - Unfinished' to the Union League Club in New York in 1881 and certainly lent it to the Caxton Club show in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0670101). 18

18: New York 1881 (cat. no. 82); Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 54).

Another impression was probably 'A Sketch at Limehouse' exhibited by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0670102) and bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919). Obach & Co. showed an impression in London in 1903. 19

Finally, after Whistler's death, an impression was shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and another one was lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) to the Whistler Memorial show in London in 1905. 20


20: New York 1904a (cat. no. 60); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 59).


In 1877 Whistler listed an etching as 'From Limehouse', impressions of which were sold to the London print dealers, Hogarth & Sons, and offered (but possibly not sold) to The Fine Art Society for £4.4.0. 21

It is possible but not absolutely certain that this was the same etching recorded as sold to Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890), in 1877, as 'Penny Passengers', also at £4.4.0 - the trouble being that one 'From Limehouse' was recorded as bought by Howell for £2.2.0 in the same year and another by that title at £4.4.0. 22

The few surviving impressions gravitated to the major collections of Whistler's work. An impression owned by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) was bought, through the mediation of Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0670102). An impression from the important collection of Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) has not been located (Graphic with a link to impression #K0670201). Another, from the collection of Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924), went eventually to Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) who gave it to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (Graphic with a link to impression #K0670204).

21: Whistler to Hogarth, 22-7 October [1877], GUW #12737; Whistler to M. B. Huish, 10 October 1877, #12734.

22: Howell to Whistler, 6-15 November 1877, GUW #02178; [November 1877], #02180 and #02181.