The Little Rotherhithe

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 74
Date: 1861
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 125 x 102 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1861.' at lower right
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 15
Catalogues: K.73; M.72; T.49; W.71
Impressions taken from this plate  (15)


The Little Rotherhithe was not published.


It was first exhibited with the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1862. 7 Later it was shown to connoisseurs and collectors at the exhibitions organised by the Union League Club in New York in 1881 and by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900. Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent an impression in 1881 as 'Little Wapping / Very rare' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730208), while in Chicago one was exhibited as 'The Little Wapping', lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938). 8

It also appeared in print dealer's shows, particularly with H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and 1903, and with Obach & Co. in London in 1903. In 1898, the print exhibited was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730202).


8: New York 1881 (cat. no. 99); Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 66).

After Whistler's death, an impression was shown at the Grolier Club in New York and one was lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905. 9

9: New York 1904a (cat. no. 74); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 71).


On 17 October 1863 a first (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730101) and second state of 'Little Wapping [The Thames / Wapping Wharf]' were sold by Whistler to the British Museum for £1.1.0 each. Ralph Thomas wrote that 'The only proof I have seen is in the British Museum.' 10 The second state may have been de-accessioned when the Museum inherited another second state from the descendants of William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) - a particularly good impression with burr on the ships (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730207).

10: Whistler to W. H. Carpenter, British Museum, GUW #11109; Thomas 1874 (cat. no. 49).

Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) bought an impression that was signed and inscribed 'Little Wapping -' by Whistler at Avery's request, in the 1870s (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730208). Wedmore wrote 'Mr. Avery and Mr. Theobald have it.' Theobald's impression, lent to the Whistler Memorial show in London in 1905, has not been located. Whistler printed a good impression of the final state on 23 December 1877 for 'W.G.R.' who was probably William George Rawlinson (1840-1928) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730205). 11

11: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 71).

Another early collector, Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), owned a beautiful impression of the second state on cream Japanese paper, which was later sold by Wunderlich's, with the assistance of Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938), to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730202).
From the important collection of Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), at Sotheby's in March 1892, 'The Little Wapping', 'trial proof, very rare' was bought by the print dealer Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. and a similar impression by 'Mellor', for £0.18.0 each. Shortly afterwards, at Christie's, 'The Thames: a sketch' - possibly the same etching - was bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst for £0.19.0. A few years later, at Christie's in 1897 'The Little Wapping' was sold for £2.18.0 with 'The Little Pool' to Ellis, possibly Frederick Standridge Ellis (1830-1901). 12

One impression came back to Whistler for signing in the 1890s, and was probably sold by Rouillier to Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913), and passed in due course to the Art Institute of Chicago (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730302). Another - the final state - was bequeathed by Whistler to Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) and by her to the University of Glasgow (Graphic with a link to impression #K0730304).

12: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lots122-3); Christie's, 8-9 March 1892 (lot 314) and 13-4 July 1897 (lot 310).