The 'Jubilee' or Naval Review' Set
The fiftieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was celebrated in 1887. Jubilee celebrations included a Naval Review at Spithead on 23 July. Whistler as President of the Society of British Artists was invited to attend. During the day he made twelve etchings, as well as a watercolour and pencil sketches. They were not published by a print dealer but were sold or given by the artist as a set.
It included views of the ports (i.e. Tilbury ) and of the fleet (i.e. Troopships ) and spectators (i.e. The Visitors' Boat ). The complete set comprises: Tilbury , The Fleet: Monitors , Troopships , The Visitors' Boat , The Turret Ship , Dry Docks, Southampton , Children, Portsmouth , Bunting , Dipping the Flag , Her Majesty's Fleet: Evening , Return to Tilbury , and The Landing Stage, Cowes .
The Fleet: Monitors 
The Visitors' Boat 
The Turret Ship 
Dry Docks, Southampton 
Children, Portsmouth 
Dipping the Flag 
Her Majesty's Fleet: Evening 
Return to Tilbury 
The Landing Stage, Cowes 
In presenting a set of Naval Review etchings to Queen Victoria, in an album he had designed, Whistler stated that :
'I have ... embodied my impressions and observations, on that memorable day, in a set of Etchings - notes, as I may say of the needle, not the pen, taken at the moment and from point to point of that Imperial but pacific and more than Roman triumph, from Tilbury fort to the waters of Portsmouth.' 1
1: Whistler to W. H. Smith, 1 December 1887, GUW #01849.
The Pennells noted that :
'Whistler, carrying the small plates about with him, sketched the subjects he found on copper as other artists sketch on paper. ... the whole set of ten [were made] during the Naval Review, with a plate at Tilbury, on his embarking, and another at Portsmouth on landing. The prints of this Series, as we know the exact space of time in which they were done, prove strikingly his wonderful power of giving a momentary impression in a few lines on a piece of copper, for they suggest, in extraordinary fashion, the picturesque aspect of the great naval spectacle.' 2
2: Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, II, pp. 81-2.
Queen Victoria's Jubilee
As well as the etchings of the 'Naval Review' the 'Jubilee' set included views of Westminster Abbey, Windsor Castle, and Whistler's own house in Chelsea.
The set was presented to Queen Victoria carefully mounted on sheets of card, prefaced by a list of titles and heraldic crests in illuminated manuscript, in a yellow leather album with embossed monogram 'V' encircled with roses, designed by Whistler. One such album, the one given to Queen Victoria, was sold by Edward VII, bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) and sold by him to Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958). Miss Philip gave it to the University of Glasgow in 1935.
In December 1887 at least one of the Naval Review etchings was on exhibition at the Royal Society of British Artists. A newspaper commented:
'Mr Whistler's latest studies with the etching needle divide themselves as to theme into four classes, one of them dealing with a pilastered house in Brussels, another with what Mr Whistler saw when he was a privileged spectator of her Majesty's fleet, a fourth with the arena of Buffalo Bill. Of all of these things there are vivacious and dexterous jottings.' 3
3: '"Black and White" Exhibition', Standard, London, 25 December 1887 (GUL PC9/47).
The Leeds Mercury was less flattering:
'Unfortunately Mr. Whistler, has on this occasion effaced almost completely as a painter. He sends a number of etchings, for the most part very slight, of which the ''motive[sic]'' is, he tells is, to be found in the Naval Review at Portsmouth last July. We take this assertion with greater confidence, seeing that he has amongst his water- colours two ''Notes'', grey and silver (132), and a blue and silver (145), which he identifies with Southampton and Portsmouth respectively, and which may refer to his early morning and late evening experiences on the 23rd July last.' 4
Cuttings, as described and dated by Whistler's secretary, in Whistler's press-cutting books, Special Collections, Glasgow University Library (GUL PC9-10).
- Anon., World, London, 17 August 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 1)
- Anon., 'Professional Amateurs', Society, [August 1887] (GUL PC9, p. 1)
- Anon., Newcastle Leader, 17 August 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 1)
- Anon., The Queen, [August 1887] 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 2)
- Anon., Court Circular, [August 1887] (GUL PC9, p. 2)
- Anon., 'Royal Recognition of a Graceful Present', Worcestershire Echo, 27 September 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 5)
- Anon., Manchester Guardian, 29 September 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 13)
- Anon., Daily News, London, 26 November 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 13)
- Anon., 'Royal Society of British Artists', The Tablet, December 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 22)
- Anon., Court and Society Review, 7 December 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 54)
- Anon., 'III. - The Royal Society of British Artists,' Leeds Mercury, 10 December 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 36)
- Anon., 'The Royal Society of British Artists,' Illustrated London News , [December 1887] (GUL PC9, p. 38)
- Anon., 'Black and White Exhibition', Standard, London, 25 December 1887 (GUL PC9, p. 47)
- Anon., 'Royal Society of British Artists', Daily News, 26 November 1887.
- Anon., Sunday Times,, London, 13 January 1888 (GUL PC9, p. 54)
- Anon., Home and Colonial Mail, 20 January 1888 (GUL PC9, p. 55)
- Anon., Magazine of Art, 1 February 1888 (GUL PC9, p. 59)
- Anon., 'More Pictures Yet', Toronto Mail, 31 May 1888 (GUL PC10, p. 1)
- Anon., Glasgow Evening Times, 29 September 1888 (GUL PC 10, p. 30)
- Kennedy, Edward G., The Etched Work of Whistler, New York, 1910 (cat. nos. 316-329).
- Lochnan, Katharine A., The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1984, chap. 4.
- Mansfield, Howard, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings and Dry-Points of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Chicago, 1909 (cat. nos. 312-326).
- MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.
- Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, II, pp. 81-2.
- Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London, 1890.
- Winter Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887-1888 .
- Exhibition of Etchings, Drypoints. and Lithographs by Whistler, H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1898.
- An Exhibition of Etchings and Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler, The Caxton Club, 1900.
- A Collection of Etchings and Dry Points by Whistler recently acquired, H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1903.
- Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905.