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Nocturne Shipping

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 206
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: drypoint
Size: 157 x 222 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 8
Catalogues: K.223; M.220; W.194
Impressions taken from this plate  (8)


lagoon, nocturne, sailing ship, sea, shipping.


Minor variations on the title are as follows:

'Nocturne Shipping' (1883, F.A.S.). 1
'Nocturne - Shipping' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 2
'Nocturne Shipping' (1887, Whistler). 3
'Shipping Nocturne' (1887/1888, Whistler). 4
'Nocturne: Shipping' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 5

The main problem with the original title and several others of that date is the lack of punctuation. However, that seems to have been what Whistler wanted. 'Nocturne Shipping' is therefore the preferred title.

1: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 27).

2: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 194).

3: Whistler to Dowdeswell, 28 April 1887, GUW #13020.

4: List, [1887/1888], GUW #13233.

5: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 220).


Numerous sailing ships are seen, reflected in the water. At left are small sailing boats by a quayside, with warehouses and a low building with three arches to right. In the centre are several small two- and three-masted ships, and two large three-masted sailing ships are moored close together at right. Distant buildings are just visible on the bank at far right.


Shipping in the Giudecca canal or the sheltered lagoon by the city of Venice, Italy.


Whistler's night scenes had become his most controversial and definitive works. His etchings of night in Venice include Nocturne 222, Nocturne: Palaces 200, Nocturne: Furnace 208 and Nocturne: Salute 203.