Vauxhall Bridge

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 75
Date: 1861
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 69 x 114 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1861' at lower right (G.2)
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 36
Catalogues: K.70; M.70; T.46; W.66
Impressions taken from this plate  (36)


Vauxhall Bridge was not published.


It was first shown with the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1862. 8 Rarely exhibited thereafter, it was shown to collectors in two important shows, the first organised by the Union League Club in New York in 1881, to which an impression was lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700222). 9 Another large exhibition was organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, to which Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) was the chief lender (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700202) 10

Other important exhibitions were held by print dealers, particularly H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York, in 1898 and 1903. Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought two impressions from this 1898 show (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700102, Graphic with a link to impression #K0700204). 11

Finally impressions were exhibited in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, including one impression lent by Freer (probably Graphic with a link to impression #K0700102) to the Grolier Club in New York in 1904. One impression was also lent from the Royal Collection to the London show of 1905. 12

8: Paris Soc. Nat. 1862; see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

9: New York 1881 (cat. no. 93).

10: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 61).

11: New York 1898 (cat. no. 63).

12: New York 1904a (cat. no. 68, 68b); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 66).


The British Museum bought an impression from Percy Thomas (1846-1922) on 13 July 1872 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700207). 13 H. Stewart Cundell commented on the etchings in the Print Room:

13: B.M. Print Room Register of Purchases... 1872.

'Of all artists who in recent years have expressed themselves with the [etching] point, no one has done so more successfully then Mr Whistler. His theory of etching we take to be that a man should put his thoughts upon copper just as he would upon canvas, should paint, in fact, with the etching needle, with a deliberate choice of that method of expression. Some of his first works may be seen in the scanty collection of modern etchings in the British Museum. Among them ... Vauxhall Bridge is an exceedingly deft little sketch.' 14

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

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, was given an impression in 1883 by William Loring Andrews (1837-1927) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700223). However, on the whole the etching was not acquired by other public collections until after Whistler's death. The Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, for instance, was given one in 1910 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700221), while the Victoria & Albert Museum acquired one in 1905 that is not in a good condition (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700219), and a much richer impression in 1919 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700220).
Although comparatively rare at auction, an 'early impression on Japanese paper' from the collection of John W. Wilson (dates unknown), brought £1.10.0 at Sotheby's on 22 April 1887 (lot 198). A few years later, two impressions were sold in London, from the collections of Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) and William Richard Drake (1817-1890), fetching £1.5.0 each. 15

15: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 118); Christie's, 8-9 March 1892 (lot 315).

Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) acquired a good impression of the second state from F. Keppel & Co., New York, in June 1894 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700203). He then bought two impressions from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) through Wunderlich's, New York - the sole extant first state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700102) and a less striking second state (Graphic with a link to impression #K0700204).
The impression illustrated by Kennedy, but not located, was trimmed to the platemark in the manner of Whistler's later etchings, and signed by another hand with a fake butterfly monogram. 16

16: Kennedy 1910 (cat. no. 70).