The Turret Ship

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 305
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 128 x 178 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 14
Catalogues: K.321; M.316
Impressions taken from this plate  (14)


Although not published officially, The Turret Ship formed part of the 'Jubilee Set'.


An etching lent by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 described as 'Naval Review – Oblong' could have been this (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210103) or Tilbury [312]. 13

It was shown by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1903, and after Whistler's death, in the Memorial Exhibitions. Impressions were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, in Paris (as 'La Canonnière No. 2 - (Gunboat no. 2 on the Turret-Ship') in 1905, and, lent by King Edward VII, in London in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210203). 14

13: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 238). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

14: New York 1903b (cat. no. 197); Paris Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 398); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 246).


Whistler's first sale of 'H. M. S. Fleet - The Gun boat' was on 20 August 1887 to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) for £10.10.0. 15 It was also apparently listed by Whistler as 'The Turret Ship' at the same price. 16 Whistler noted at least fourteen impressions in stock by September 1887. 17

On 3 May 1888 Whistler sold H. Wunderlich & Co. of New York an impression of 'Turret Ship' at £10.10.0; he sold them a second in 1889, but this seems to have been returned. In July Whistler noted that he had ten in stock. 18 By 1890 or 1891, another stocktaking revealed eleven unmounted and one mounted impression still in the studio. 19

As late as 1903 Wunderlich's asked for another impression, but this may not have been delivered. 20 However, in the same year, 1903, Whistler sold one (this time listed as 'Gun Boat') to the London print dealer, Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851), and for this last sale it was priced at £12.12.0. 21

Whistler died shortly afterwards, so that several impressions were bequeathed to Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) and by her to the University of Glasgow (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210104, Graphic with a link to impression #K3210202, Graphic with a link to impression #K3210205). She had already given Queen Victoria's Jubilee Album (sold through Agnew & Sons, Obach & Co., and C.L. Freer in 1906) to the University in 1935 (Graphic with a link to impression #K3210203).

15: Whistler to T. McLean, 20 August 1887, GUW #13089.

16: Whistler, [September 1887/1888?], GUW #08679.

17: [18 August-1 September 1887], GUW #13234.

18: 3 May 1888, GUW #13051; 18 July 1889, #13235; Wunderlich to Whistler, 26 June 1889, #07179; Whistler, list, 18 July 1889, GUW #13235.

19: [1890/1891], GUW #13236.

20: D. A. Kennedy to Whistler, 27 March 1903, #07340.

21: [17 June 1903], GUW #13042.