Battersea Morn

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 174
Date: 1877
Medium: drypoint
Size: 150 x 225 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 14
Catalogues: K.155; M.152; W.125
Impressions taken from this plate  (14)


It was not published.


There is some confusion between various etchings of Battersea. However, Battersea Morn was definitely exhibited, for instance, in the World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. 13 Impressions of two states were for sale at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and 1903, and at Obach & Co. in London in 1903. An impression was also lent by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1550103). 14

However, it is not certain that it was the 'Battersea' shown in the Grosvenor Gallery in London in 1879 or in Leipzig in 1895. 15

13: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2235).

14: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 113). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

15: London Grosvenor 1879 (cat. no. 271); Leipzig 1895 (cat. no. 807).

After Whistler's death, it was shown at the principal Memorial Exhibitions in New York and Boston in 1904 16 and Paris and London in 1905. An impression was lent by H.R.H. the Princess Victoria to the Whistler Memorial in London in 1905. 17 This may have been the etching later sold and eventually acquired by the Hunterian Art Gallery in 1967 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1550105).

16: New York 1904a (cat. no. 236); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 98)

17: Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 344); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 125).


In the first recorded sale, in 1877, the title is followed by a series of numbers and cryptic symbols, and then by the price, £10.10.0, which is a comparatively high price. In subsequent sales there are similar notations beside the sale. The sequence of numbers and symbols in consecutive sales (to Marcus Bourne Huish (1843-1904) of the Fine Art Society, Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890), and Messrs Hogarth) is as follows:
4 / ' ' ' '
No. 6 ' ' ' '
5 ' ' ' ' xx 18

18: Whistler to Huish, 10 Oct. 1877, GUW #12734; to Howell, 12 Oct.-5 Nov. [1877], #12735; to Hogarth, 22-27 Oct.[1877], #12737.

It is possible that the numbers '4', '6' and '5' mean that the fourth impression of Battersea Morn printed at this particular time was sold first, followed by the sixth and fifth impressions. The four apostrophes could mean that these were impressions of the fourth state or be an impression selected for a particular client. Finally, the 'xx', in the final example, may be a record of the number of etchings left. All these notes could mean some combination or variation on these interpretations (for example, the 'x' might denote further orders, sales or returns).
One impression was also sold by Whistler to the Royal Collection in October 1877 for £10.10.0. 19 This was later sold through Obach's of London, and Wunderlich's of New York to Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) and passed through several American collections until it arrived at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Graphic with a link to impression #K1550109).

19: [19-22 October 1877], GUW #12736.

Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921) mentioned in 1886 that he and Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) owned impressions of the first state, and described it as a 'rare and very poetic dry-point.' 20 MacGeorge's impression is actually the second state (Graphic with a link to impression #K1550203) and was in 2009 at the Fine Art Society in London. Another Scot, James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1888), bequeathed an impression with his collection to the Orchar Gallery, and it is now in the McManus Art Galleries and Museum, Dundee (Graphic with a link to impression #K1550z02).

20: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 125).

In 1887, Whistler sold three impressions of 'Battersea Morn -' to Messrs Dowdeswell for £31.10.0. 21 One of these may have been the impression of the first state that was later owned by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934), and went to America to Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913), whence it eventually passed to the Art Institute of Chicago (Graphic with a link to impression #K1550102).

21: Whistler to Dowdeswell, 28 April 1887, GUW #13020.

In 1890, Whistler had one - this time under the title 'Battersea Dawn' - in stock, which was still priced at £10.10.0. 22 He then sold one, which may well have been the last in stock, to the Fine Art Society in 1893 for the increased price of £12.12.0. 23

Meanwhile, at auction, prices were rather lower. A 'first state' from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) was bought by the London dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £5.5.0 in 1892 and a 'second state' by the New York print dealer Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) for £3.3.0. 24 One of these - a delicately wiped impression - was immediately bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1550103), who also bought a first state - a somewhat unevenly wiped impression - a few years later, in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1550104).

22: 1890/1891, GUW #13079.

23: 18 April 1893, GUW #01259.

24: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lots 209, 210).