Nocturne Shipping

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 206
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: drypoint
Size: 157 x 222 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 8
Catalogues: K.223; M.220; W.194
Impressions taken from this plate  (8)


Nocturne Shipping was not published.


It was first exhibited at the Fine Art Society, London in 1883, and in the reprise of the show held by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in the same year. In the catalogue designed by Whistler for the F.A.S. show he added short excerpts from earlier reviews that provided ironical contrasts or complements to the prints on show. In this case, he added one extremely obscure earlier review: 'This Archimago of the iconographic aoraton, or graphiology of the Hidden."—Daily Telegraph'. To which Whistler added a marginal note, 'Amazing!' signed with a happy butterfly with curly antennae and a twiddly barbed tail. This was followed by a cryptic and almost complimentary comment by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): "Popularity is the only insult that has not yet been offered to Mr. Whistler."' 10

10: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 27). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

These quotations attracted quite a lot of comment in reviews by other critics in 1883. However, the drypoint itself barely rated a mention: a dismissive comment in Bazaar read only 'nocturnes of Shipping, Dawn, Furnace, or Salute, are something more than disappointing.' 11

11: Anon., 'Fine Art', Mr Whistler's Exhibition', Bazaar, 28 February 1883 (GUL PC6/43).

Impression: K2200203
Some years later, a very delicate impression (reproduced above) was shown at an exhibition held at the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, lent by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2200203). 12

After Whistler's death, two impressions were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904; Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent one of two shown at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in Boston, also in 1904, and a fine inky 'first proof' was lent from the Royal Collection to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230102). 13

12: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 173). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

13: Boston 1904 (cat. nos. 150, 151); New York 1904a (cat. nos. 196, 196n); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 194).


Whistler sold an impression to the London print dealers, Messrs Dowdeswell, on 28 April 1887 for £4.4.0, and more on 27 July, 24 August, 26 and 30 September 1887 for £6.6.0 each. 14

The first proof was acquired for the Royal Collection, and was sold in 1906 with the rest of that collection; it was bought by Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230102). Other early collectors included Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), who owned an impression described as the 'finished plate', which was bought at auction after his death by the London print dealer, Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) for £3.0.0. 15 It is possible this was the very late impression, with rough, atmospheric inking, later owned by John Charles Sigismund Day (1826-1908) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230601).

On 10 April 1893, Whistler sold one to H. Wunderlich & Co. of New York for £6.6.0. 16 It is not known who bought it, though one Wunderlich's client, buying a late, dramatically wiped impression, was Pauline Kohlsaat Palmer (1882-1956) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230404). Other early collectors in America included Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230203). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) did not get one until 1903, when he bought a very misty, atmospheric late impression from Wunderlich's (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230402); then in 1907, he bought an earlier impression - a second state printed with rich burr - from F. Keppel & Co. (Graphic with a link to impression #K2230202).

14: GUW #13020, #13024, #13655, #13655, #13655.

15: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 292).

16: Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) to Whistler, GUW #07214.