Shipbuilder's Yard, Liverpool

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 142
Date: 1875
Medium: drypoint
Size: 279 x 152 mm
Signed: butterfly at left (1-3); redrawn (3-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.146; M.144; W.121
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)


It was published in an album of Cancelled Plates ('Cancelled Set') by The Fine Art Society, London, 1879.


The drypoint may have been among recent etchings by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), Charles Jacque (1813-1894), Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), and others, exhibited by C. Silva White at his West George Street Galleries in Glasgow in 1881. A review in the Glasgow Herald refers to 'Miss Leyland's portrait' as follows:
''The Millet series ... illustrate the charm of pathos with which the great Frenchman invests his patient and hopeless toilers. The simple directness of the art evades whatever is vulgar in work or sentiment ... Beside Millet Whistler is eminently vulgar; the clever etcher is always surprising the public. Whistler is master of dry-point, and he divides his reputation with his art. Miss Leyland's portrait must astonish with its fantastic traceries. "A Shipbuilder's Yard" and "Old Houses" equally illustrate the art, the work, and the eccentricity of the artist'. 11

11: 'Exhibition of Etchings', Glasgow Herald, 1 June 1881.

Also in 1881, Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) lent an impression to the Union League Club in New York, and later, in 1900, to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1460101). 12 Another was shown by H. Wunderlich & Co., New York in 1898, and was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1460102). 13

Impressions were also exhibited after Whistler's death in the principal Memorial Exhibitions. Two states were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and another at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905. 14

12: New York 1881 (cat. no. 140); Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 109). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

13: New York 1898 (cat. no. 104)

14: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 125, 125b); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 121).


It was first recorded as sold in early 1875 to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916). 15 Another impression, acquired by James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), was sold almost immediately at auction on 30 June 1876, and probably bought at that time by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910); it went with his collection to H. Wunderlich & Co., who sold it to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) on 9 November 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1460102).

15: [March/April 1875], GUW #07573.

Whistler sold an impression to the Royal Collection, Windsor Castle (Graphic with a link to impression #K1460302) and another to Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890) in 1877 for £6.6.0 each. 16 The former was sold later by Wunderlich's to Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913), and passed with his collection to the Art Institute of Chicago.

16: 19-22 October 1877, GUW #12736; 12 October-5 November 1877, #12735.

Impressions of this drypoint reached America comparatively quickly. Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) owned a first state by 1881 (which went with his collection to New York Public Library) and William Loring Andrews (1837-1927) gave an early impression to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York in 1883 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1460103). Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) bequeathed one to the University of Michigan Art Museum (Graphic with a link to impression #K1460204). Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935), Harris G. Whittemore (d. ca 1937) and William Sloane-Kinney (1883 - 1952) were among the distinguished owners of another impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K1460202).