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Greenwich Pensioner

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 40
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 99 x 136 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: 'Greenwich - 1859.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 34
Catalogues: K.34; M.33; T.15; W.32
Impressions taken from this plate  (34)
Greenwich Pensioner is dated '1859' on the copper plate. It appears to be warm and sunny enough for an elderly pensioner to sit on the grass, and so presumably dates from the summer of 1859.
Salaman wrote comparing the work of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) and Whistler in Greenwich Park in 1859:
'Another plate of comparative interest in relation to these two artists, who at this time were exploring, often together, fresh woods and pastures new within the etcher's province, is Sub Tegmine on which "Greenwich Park, 1859" in Whistler's handwriting appears over Haden's signature. This was done one day when the brothers-in-law were out together on etching adventure, and it clearly marks the difference in the two etchers' outlook; for here we see the trees of the park in their full leafage with the sun upon them were Haden's quarry, the Greenwich pensioner reclining in the partial shadow of the branches being just an incidental happening in the picture. For Whistler, on the contrary, the Greenwich pensioner himself furnished a sufficient motive - a figure of character distinctly, as he rested prone on the sloping sward, possibly one of Nelson's men.' 1
A lot of Whister's etchings were dated 1859, including Whistler with a hat 044, Longshore men 052, Black Lion Wharf 054, W. Jones, Lime-Burner, Thames Street 055, and Arthur Haden 066.