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The Fleet: Monitors

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 306
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 143 x 223 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 12
Catalogues: K.318; M.315; W.239
Impressions taken from this plate  (12)


people, jubilee, naval review, sea, ship, shipping, warship.


Variations on the title are as follows:

'The Fleet No. 3 Monitors' (1887/1888, Whistler). 2
'Monitors. (N. R)' (1889, Whistler). 3
'Monitors H. M. Fleet' (1890/1891, Whistler). 4
'Naval Review The Monitors' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 5
'Monitors' (1899, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 6
'The Naval Review; Monitors' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 7

This etching is part of the ' Naval Review' set, but it is not necessary to specify the name of the set for each etching. However, the etching does indeed show the fleet as well as the specific type of ship. Monitors were iron-clad warships with armoured gun-turrets, named after the famous American warship, the Monitor. 'The Fleet: Monitors' is based on Whistler's original title.

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

3: N.R. = Naval Review; list, 18 July 1889, GUW #13235.

4: List, [1890/1891], GUW #13236.

5: List, [1890/1892], GUW #12715.

6: Wedmore 1899[more] (cat. no. 239).

7: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.


At front left there are five people in a boat. From left to right these consist of a woman standing looking out to sea; a bearded man in a peaked cap looking to left; and three seated figures (two women and a man) reading or looking to left. Across the water, at the right, are two large monitors (warships with armoured gun turrets). In the distance are other naval ships and some small sailing boats, under a cloudy sky. Smoke blows to right from two of the ships.


At sea off Spithead.


Monitors were the newly built or newly adapted warships with rotating gun turrets, which are the biggest ships seen in the etching.
The spectators do not seem to be looking at the ships and are not monitoring the event!