Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 307
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 128 x 178 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 13
Catalogues: K.319; M.314; W.238
Impressions taken from this plate  (13)


Although not published officially, Troopships formed part of the 'Jubilee Set'.


One impression of Troopships (Graphic with a link to impression #K3190102) was first exhibited by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898, and bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919). 11 It was then lent to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900. A second impression was lent to the same show by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916). 12

Full 'Naval Review Sets' were lent to the major Memorial Exhibitions held after Whistler's death, including a comprehensive show at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and major retrospectives held by the Copley Society in Boston in 1904 and others held in London (lent by King Edward VII) and Paris in 1905. 13

11: New York 1898 (cat. no. 224).

12: Chicago 1900 (cat. nos. 208, 208a).

13: New York 1904a (cat. no. 251); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 173); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 238); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 391).


The first sale, less than a month after drawing Troopships, was on 20 August 1887 to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) for £10.10.0. Another went to Messrs Dowdeswell in London for the same price. In December, Whistler sent two whole sets to J. Craibe Angus (fl. 1865-1901) in Glasgow. 14

Whistler had a circle of avid collectors who bought his work, and fine impressions passed from one to another of these collectors as time went on. One impression, for instance, from a set owned by Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) of Glasgow, went on to be owned by Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935), Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) and Albert Henry Wiggin (1868-1951), from whom it passed to Boston Public Library (Graphic with a link to impression #K3190105).

14: GUW #13089; [September 1887/1888], #08679; 16 December 1887, #10959.

Several art dealers bought regularly from Whistler. Wunderlich's had an impression by May 1888 and Knoedler's by July 1888. 15 Ten years later, an impression priced at £10.10.0 was sent and then returned unsold by Wunderlich's, but they appear to have bought another in 1900 and requested a final one in 1903. 16

The London print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) included Troopships priced at £10.10.0 in a last minute Christmas order on 24 December 1902, and bought another on 17 June 1903 shortly before Whistler's death. 17

15: 3 May 1888, GUW #07158, #13051; 27 July 1888, #13660.

16: 26 June 1899, GUW #07179; 6 April 1900, #07322; D. A. Kennedy to Whistler, 27 March 1903, #07340.

17: Whistler to Dunthorne, [20 April 1903], GUW #13041; #13042.

An impression from the 'Naval Review Set' presented by Whistler to Queen Victoria was lent by Edward VII to the 1905 Whistler Memorial Exhibition. It was then sold on 11 April 1906 through Obach & Co. to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), who already had a good impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K3190102). Freer immediately sold the Royal Album to Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), who gave it to the University of Glasgow in 1935 (Graphic with a link to impression #K3190205). 18

A similar set in an album designed by Whistler was given by Walter Stanton Brewster (1872-1954) to the Art Institute of Chicago (Graphic with a link to impression #K3190106).

18: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 238); sale records, 11 April, 3 May and 20 June 1906, FGA; see also Freer's account, [4 September 1902], GUW #11701.