Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 83
Date: 1861
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 120 x 166 mm
Signed: 'Whistler - ' at lower right (1-3); partly removed (4-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: Junior Etching Club, 1862
No. of States: 6
Known impressions: 35
Catalogues: K.86; M.87; T.86; W.69
Impressions taken from this plate  (35)


Comparative image
Passages from Modern English Poets was first published in 1862 by Day & Son Ltd., Lithographers and Publishers, 6 Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London, with 185 pages and 47 etched illustrations by the Junior Etching Club.
It was published in four different editions, small quarto, quarto, folio and large folio. In the large paper editions, The Punt has the printed annotation 'Pl. 7.' and 'J. Whistler'; in the small paper editions, 'London, Published December 1st, 1861, by Day and Son, Lith. to the Queen' is added. 16
Comparative image
A larger quarto edition - reproduced above - was published by William Tegg in 1876.
A reproduction of the etching, as a photogravure with a platemark wider than the original plate, is sometimes mistaken for an original etching.
In 1862 F.G. Stephens in The Athenaeum found Whistler's two etchings 'beyond praise' and Charles Mackay in The London Review wrote praising the two etchings, with reservations:
Mr Whistler, a man with a most genuine gift for etching, sends two designs. In 'The Angler' the water is liquid, the knolled distance with trees pretty, and the sky, though scratchy, has motion and recession. The same may be said of the 'River Scene', where the foreground figure, a young man who appears to be sketching, and the man and woman in the boat in the middle distance, are mere outlines of needle-like tenuity. The landscape, however, very and true; with plashy river-side vegetation, a tree-covered bank on the further side, and the near bank excellent in rounded surface , and perspective distance. The transverse lines if the sky appear to imply rain, but Mr. Whistler's use of line, with all its skill, is so arbitrary that one cannot answer for the intention.' 17

17: The Athenaeum, 7 June 1862, p. 765; 'Art and Science. The Junior Etching Club', The London Review ..., 6 September 1862, p. 218. See also The Lady's Newspaper, 14 June 1862, p. 370. Thanks to Martin Hopkinson for this and many other references!

Three years later, when the volume was re-issued, one journalist stated: 'Of the landscape prints the contributions of Mr Whistler are much the best'. 18 Appropriately, a review in The Sporting Gazette Limited praised: 'two charming aquatic subjects by J. Whistler, though only slight sketches, are highly effective, and display no little artistic ability. They are Plate 7, 'The Angler', in illustration of Reynolds' 'Angler's Saliloquy' [sic] and 45 'River scene', to which Charles Mackay's pleasing verses gave birth.' 19

18: Pall Mall Gazette, 18 December 1865. See also The Standard, 25 December 1865, p. 6.

19: Morning Post, London, 19 December 1865, p. 2; The Sporting Gazette Limited, 6 January 1866, p. 3.


Surprisingly few exhibitions are recorded, possibly because it was published in book form. Impressions appeared in two exhibitions organised by private clubs, at the Union League Club in New York in 1881 as 'The Thames' - probably lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0860501). 20 - and in the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 as 'Sketching', lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938). 21

20: New York 1881 (cat. no. 97).

21: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 64).

It was also represented in print dealers' shows, in New York at H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0860203) and 1903, and in London at Obach & Co. in 1903. 22


Finally, it was exhibited after Whistler's death, in the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and - lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934)- in the Whistler Memorial show in London in 1905. 23

23: New York 1904a (cat. no. 71); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 69).


Few sales are recorded, possibly because it was published - and sold - in book form. At auction at Sotheby's, 12 June 1877 (lot 100), one was bought by J.& S. Hogarth for only £0.16.0. Even with its companion, The Punt [82], another impression was sold by Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894) and bought by 'Parsons' for £1.8.0 at Sotheby's, 25 November 1895 (lot 157).
An impression from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) was sold through H. Wunderlich & Co., New York to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0860203). Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) owned an impression in the mid-1870s (Graphic with a link to impression #K0860501). Other early collectors included Charles Deering (1852-1927) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0860402); Emily Mott (fl. 1866) and William A. Sargent (1858-1936) (Graphic with a link to impression #K0860411); and libraries and public collections such as the Victoria & Albert Museum (Graphic with a link to impression #K0860207) and Library of Congress (Graphic with a link to impression #K0860306).

An impression of the first state owned by Henry Graves, Jr. was sold by the American Art Association in 1936, but has not been located. 24

24: Masterpieces of Engraving and Etching ... Collection of Henry Graves, Jr., New York City, Anderson Art Galleries, New York, 3 April 1936 (lot. no. 64).