The Storm

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 81
Date: 1861
Medium: drypoint
Size: 156 x 286 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1861.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 36
Catalogues: K.81; M.83; T.74; W.77
Impressions taken from this plate  (36)


cancelled plate, landscape, man, rain, river, weather.


The original title included the name of the figure in the scene, but the majority of published and unpublished titles concentrated on the weather:

'The Storm - (Ridley)' (1870s, Whistler). 1
'The Storm' (1874, Whistler). 2
'The Storm' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 3
'The storm' (1875, Whistler). 4
'The Storm (Ridley)' (1881, Union League Club). 5

'The Storm' is the title published by Whistler and generally accepted. 'Ridley' was probably added by Whistler as a piece of personal information for the buyer of the drypoint, Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), and was not the full title.

1: Written on Graphic with a link to impression #K0810212.

2: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 1).

3: Thomas 1874 (cat. no. 74).

4: Whistler to W. C. Alexander, [March/April 1875?], GUW #07573.

5: New York 1881 (cat. no. 106).


Near the bottom left corner, a man, in profile to right, walks bent over and holding onto his hat against the force of the wind. A few grasses and bushes are seen on each bank of the river behind him, which is drawn parallel to the bottom of the plate. The sky is cloudy, with masses of diagonal lines suggesting pouring rain.


Matthew White Ridley (1837-1888). Whistler wrote 'The Storm - (Ridley)' on one impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K0810212), probably in the early 1870s, and this impression was shown in New York in 1881 under that title - 'The Storm (Ridley)'. 6

6: New York 1881 (cat. no. 106).Gatty 1974; Gatty 1981.


The site is probably in the Thames valley, near Sunbury-on-Thames, where Whistler also etched The Camp [80] and Landscape with Fisherman [85].


The effect of driving rain, achieved with dozens of closely-massed diagonal drypoint lines, is comparable to effects obtained by Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn (1617-1681) in such major etchings as The Three Crosses. The composition and format, 'a low horizontal band beneath a big sky' is also Rembrandtesque, as pointed out by Fine. 7 A similar interaction between figure, landscape and weather is seen in Speke Shore [139].

7: Los Angeles 1984 ( 6).