The Visitors' Boat

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 303
Date: 1887
Medium: etching
Size: 178 x 128 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 9
Catalogues: K.320; M.313; W.237
Impressions taken from this plate  (9)


Although not published officially, The Visitors' Boat formed part of the 'Jubilee Set'.


It was first recorded as exhibited by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898. 11 Two impressions were then lent to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K3200104) and Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K3200103). 12

After Whistler's death, impressions were shown in several memorial exhibitions. Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent his impression of The Visitors' Boat to the Whistler exhibition in Boston in 1904 (Graphic with a link to impression #K3200107). 13 Full 'Naval Review Sets' were shown in the Memorial Exhibitions held in Paris and, from the Royal Collection, in London (Graphic with a link to impression #K3200202) in 1905. 14

11: New York 1898 (cat. no. 223).

12: Chicago 1900 (cat. nos. 207, 207a).

13: New York 1904a (cat. no. 250).

14: Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 390); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 237).


The first sale, less than a month after drawing Troop Ships, 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 for the same price. In December, Whistler sent two whole sets of the Naval Review etchings to William Craibe Angus (1830-1899) in Glasgow. 15

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

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 #K3200108).
Wunderlich's bought regularly from Whistler; they had an impression of Visitors' Boat by May 1888 priced at £10.10.0, and an impression was sold by them ten years later at the same price. They appear to have bought others later, including one in 1900 and one requested in 1903. 16

An impression from the 'Naval Review Set' presented by Whistler to Queen Victoria was lent by Edward VII to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in 1905. 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 #K3200104). 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 #K3200202). 17

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 #K3200109).

16: 3 and 14 May 1888, GUW #07158, #13659; 24 March 1899, GUW #07305; 6 April 1900, #07322; D. A. Kennedy to Whistler, 27 March 1903, #07340.

17: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 237); sale records, 11 April, 3 May and 20 June 1906, FGA; see also Freer's account, [4 September 1902], GUW #11701.