Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Etching

Steamboat Fleet, Chelsea

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 155
Date: 1875/1877
Medium: drypoint
Size: 139 x 215 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 19
Catalogues: K.156; M.153; W.223
Impressions taken from this plate  (19)


It was published in an album of Cancelled Plates ('Cancelled Set') by The Fine Art Society, London, 1879.


It was one of the rare drypoints included by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) in the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, and was also shown in the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1560103, Graphic with a link to impression #K1560102). 10

After Whistler's death, one was shown in the Grolier Club exhibition in New York in 1904, lent by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1560202). Another impression was lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1560103). 11

10: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2246); Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 193). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

11: New York 1904a (cat. no. 236); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 363).


A print called 'Steamboats laid up' was recorded as bought from Whistler by Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890) on 9 November 1877 for £2.2.0 (quite a low price), but this could equally have been Steamboats off the Tower [156]. 12

In 1887 Whistler sold two impressions of 'Steam boat fleet Chelsea.' (also listed as 'Steam boats fleet Chelsea') to the London art dealers, Messrs Dowdeswell, for £5.5.0 each. 13 Again, it is not absolutely certain if this was the same drypoint, but in this case it is very likely.

12: Howell to Whistler, [6-15 November 1877], GUW #02178; 9-11 November [1877], #12738.

13: 27 July 1887, GUW #08677 and #13024.

Indeed, it may have been one of the latter that was acquired by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934), who is known to have owned the sole extant impression of the first state. This was signed by Whistler about 1886 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1560103). It was owned later by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) and Harris G. Whittemore (d. ca 1937).
A second state was acquired by Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891), and sold at his posthumous sale in 1892 as 'Steamboat's Fleet, Chelsea' when it was bought by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912). (Graphic with a link to impression #K1560102). 14 It too was bought by Mansfield.

14: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 321).

Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought the only other known impression of the second state - a darkly atmospheric drypoint - in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1560202). He had already, in 1893, acquired one of the cancelled sets including this drypoint (Graphic with a link to impression #K1560302).