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Under Old Battersea Bridge

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 168
Date: 1876/1878
Medium: etching, drypoint and open bite
Size: 216 x 139 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.176; M.173
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)
Under Old Battersea Bridge is particularly difficult to date. In the collection of Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) is an impression of Under Old Battersea Bridge that is inscribed '1879.' (Graphic with a link to impression #K1760104) but the date appears to have been written over another date, and probably not by Whistler. However, this impression was signed by Whistler with a pencil butterfly dating from slightly earlier, possibly between 1876 and 1878.
Although Under Old Battersea Bridge shows the same bridge as Old Battersea Bridge [188], the two are etched in a totally different manner, and Old Battersea Bridge definitely dates from later, in the late summer of 1879. Under Old Battersea Bridge is much closer in composition to a lithograph dating from July 1878, The Tall Bridge [c012], but it is even bolder, with an extraordinarily daring close-up view of the bridge framing the distant shore of Chelsea and Chelsea Suspension Bridge.
The technique is highly experimental, with its deeply etched outlines and manipulated foul-biting or open-bite. It has technical similarities to Limehouse [48] and to a lesser extent to W. Jones, Lime-Burner, Thames Street [55], both of which are dated 1859. The copper plate is very close in size to a number of etchings, including ones dated 1859-1861 (Soupe à trois sous [64], Bibi Valentin [34], Old Hungerford Bridge [76]) and from the mid- to late 1870s (Sleeping Girl [127], Nude Reclining [126], The Desk [129], Wych Street, London [176], Steamboat Fleet, Chelsea [155] and Wych Street, London [176]).