Chelsea Wharf

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 97
Date: 1863
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 93 x 192 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right (1-2); butterfly at lower right (2)
Inscribed: '1863 -' at lower right
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 12
Catalogues: K.89; M.89; T.75; W.81
Impressions taken from this plate  (12)


Chelsea Wharf was not published.


It was first exhibited in Whistler's first one-man show in London in 1874 as 'Old Chelsea Wharf '. 8 In the same year it was shown in the travelling exhibition of the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890). 9 An impression from the collection of Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) was shown at the Union League Club in New York in 1881 with the description, 'Very early impression' (Graphic with a link to impression #K0890201) 10

Thereafter it was not much exhibited, though impressions appeared at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 (bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919)), and at Obach & Co. in London in 1903. An impression was lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) to a show organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900. 11

Impressions were also shown in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death. Freer lent an impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K0890102) to the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and another, lent from the Royal Collection, was shown at the London Exhibition of 1905. 12

8: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 3).

9: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 500).

10: New York 1881 (cat. no. 110).

11: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 76); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

12: New York 1904a (cat. no. 84); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 81).


Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) owned an impression of the first state, bought from Hermann Wunderlich & Co., New York, through Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in November 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0890102). Freer bought another from the collection of Thomas Way (1837-1915) in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0890203). Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921) owned an impression of the second state, about which he wrote:
'This exquisitely suggestive and delicate little print was wrought in 1863. There are one or two impressions before the butterfly monogram. My impression - on thin Japanese paper - has the butterfly, and has a similar butterfly drawn in the margin in pencil, with Whistler's signature and a date '73.' / Very scarce.' 13

13: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 81).

Whistler sold an impression of 'Chelsea Wharf ' to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) in 1877 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0890204). It was bequeathed to his daughter, Rachel Alexander, and sold by her executors with 19 other etchings for a total of £3165.0.0 to the British Museum, London, in 1973. The Museum acquired a second example in 1890 (Graphic with a link to impression #K0890205). 14

The artist also sold impressions to Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890) and to J. Hogarth & Sons in 1877 for £4.4.0. 15 By 1886, when he sold one to the London print dealer, Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832), and in 1887 and 1889, to Messrs Dowdeswell, the price had gone up to £6.6.0. 16

At auctions it seems to have fetched much less - in 1892, for instance, another London print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) bought one for £3.12.6 and Deprez & Gutekunst bought another for even less, £2.8.0. 17

14: Whistler to Alexander, [March/April 1875], GUW #07573; ditto, (22 October [1877], #12737; Report of Gere, Keeper of the Print Room, 17 August 1973, B. M., Trustees' Reports.

15: Whistler to Howell, 12 October-5 November 1877, GUW #12735; to Hogarth, 22-7 October [1877], #12737.

16: Whistler to T. McLean, [1 November 1886], GUW #13010; to Dowdeswell, 28 April 1887, #13020; 3 August 1889, #13092.

17: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 130); Christie's, 8 March 1892 (lot 309).