The Fishing Boat

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 198
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 157 x 234 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower right (1)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 6
Known impressions: 39
Catalogues: K.208; M.205; W.178
Impressions taken from this plate  (39)


It was published by Messrs Dowdeswell and Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) with A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') in 1886.

Whistler delivered in all 1093 prints and was paid £2.10.6 for printing each dozen prints. 14

14: Dowdeswell to Whistler, invoice 16 July 1887, GUW #00891.


Fishing Boat was first exhibited at the Fine Art Society in London in 1883, and at the reprise of the same show by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York later in the year. In the F.A.S. exhibition catalogue, designed and written by Whistler, he included quotes chosen from earlier reviews to complement his etchings. In the catalogue Fishing Boat was twinned ironically with a phrase by Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894), 'Subjects unimportant in themselves'. 15

Reviews were few, but the Daily News recommended it, 'Among etchings which will be, or should be admired'. 16 Another London paper, the Standard, comparing it with Nocturne: Furnace [208], asserted: 'His "Furnace Nocturne" is among the best, and is very skilful. His "Fishing Boat" is as fine in line as is the other in light and shade.' 17

Print dealer's shows include H. Wunderlich & Co., in New York in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2071203) and (twice) in 1903; Obach & Co. in London in 1903, F. Keppel & Co., New York, in 1902 and 1904. 18 An impression was on view at a show organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080402). 19 In the following year James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) lent one to the Glasgow International Exhibition. 20

After Whistler's death, an impression was also shown in the comprehensive Grolier Club exhibition in New York in 1904 and (lent from the Royal Collection) at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080202). 21

15: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 38).

16: Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', Daily News, 20 February 1883 (GUL PC25/20).

17: Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Exhibition', Standard, London, 17 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/22).


19: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 158).

20: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 231).

21: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 180, 180b); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 178).


The first sale recorded was in August 1882 when Whistler sold an impression to Wickham Flower (b. ca 1836) for £4.4.0. 22 On 12 September 1882 he sold another to Queen Victoria for £5.5.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080202). 23 This was later - in 1906 - sold through Agnew's and H. Wunderlich & Co. to Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913), who bequeathed it to the Art Institute of Chicago.

After 1886 most impressions were sold through Messrs Dowdeswell. Among the few other sales recorded by Whistler were sales to another London print dealer, Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £6.6.0 in 1902, and for £8.8.0 in 1903. 24

Dowdeswell's gave a set including an impression of The Fishing Boat to the British Museum in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080404). Thibaudeau sold a set for £52.10.0 through Gustave Lauser (b. ca 1841) to H. Wunderlich & Co. in May 1888, and it was bought by Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) in 1890 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080405). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought one from Frederick Keppel & Co. in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080302), and another, originally owned by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910), through Wunderlich's in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2071203).

22: GUW #12989.

23: GUW #13072.

24: GUW #13040, #13041, #13042.

At auction, one impression sold at Christie’s, 27 November 1888 (lot 177) was bought by Obach & Co. for £1.4.0. An impression was sold at auction in 1892, from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) 25 to Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) for £1.12.0. A complete 'Venice, Second Series' 'in a folio' owned by Mrs Edward Fisher of Abbotsbury, Newton Abbot, went at Christie’s, 13-14 July 1897 (lot 316) to Colnaghi's for £82.0.0.

25: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 273)

Early European collectors included Jules Gerbeau (d. 1906) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080303) and Atherton Curtis (1863-1944) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080305), and American collectors, George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080403); Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080310); Judson S. Dutcher (b. ca 1863) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080411); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080304) and Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080402). Obach & Co. sold an impression to the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, in 1902 for £8.0.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2080406). 26

26: 10 May 1902, Museum records.