Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Subjects > Etchings > Etching

Black Lion Wharf

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 54
Date: 1859
Medium: etching
Size: 153 x 229 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower right
Inscribed: '1859.' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 104
Catalogues: K.42; M.41; T.35; W.40
Impressions taken from this plate  (104)


The composition is basically etched but the sky and a few very minor additions were made in drypoint.


A unique impression of the first state was printed in very dark brown ink ink on dark ivory medium-weight wove paper (). Most impressions however were printed in black ink. They were followed by some two dozen impressions of the second state, an 'intermediate' third state in which the plate was cleaned up, and over forty impressions of the final state (as published) plus a handful of cancelled impressions.
The second state was mostly printed in black ink, but on various papers. Asian papers include dark ivory heavy-weight paper (); fibrous cream Japan (); ivory () and cream laid Japan (, ); and light grey Japan paper ().
Western papers include buff fibrous wove (); heavy-weight off-white wove (); cream laid paper with small grey-blue fibres (); and ivory laid () and ivory 'antique' (pre-1800) laid (). An impression was printed on cream laid paper before January 1861 when it was sold by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) (). Another on cream laid paper, almost certainly a similarly early impression on cream laid paper, was acquired by Carel Vosmaer (1826-1888) (). An impression marked 'Early proof' by Whistler is on off-white laid paper with a partial 'HUDELIST' watermark (). One - still of the second state - was sold to the British Museum in 1863; it is on ivory Japan ().
About 1862, Whistler recorded either the number of impressions printed, or more likely the number of impressions of some etchings in stock: 'Limehouse 10. / Tunnel pier 2./ Black Lion 8. / Graveur - 2 / Thames Police. 20 / Tyzack 5'. 18

18: [May 1862/1864?], GUW #12745, p. 38.

The final - fourth - state was also printed in black ink. The main edition as published for the 'Thames Set' in 1871 was on ivory laid paper with DE ERVEN DE BLAUW watermark (, , , ); and beehive and 'DEDB' watermarked paper (). These include the impression from the published set that was acquired by Alexander Constantine Ionides (1810-1890) () and another () bought by the South Kensington Museum - both now in the V&A.
Other laid papers include cream (, ) and ivory (, , ) papers; off-white with a shield watermark (); heavy weight ivory with a Strasbourg Lily watermark (); ivory 'antique' (pre-1800) paper from an old ledger with blue edges (); ivory with a posthorn watermark - this went to Dresden in 1897 (); cream 'modern' (, ); thin 'modern' with a lion watermark over 'P' (); and cream 'modern' with a watermark of 'GR', a crown and wreath ().
Asian papers include cream medium weight laid (); cream Japan (, , ); cream Japanese laid tissue (); cream laid Japan (); soft off-white laid (); ivory laid paper, possibly Asian (); and ivory Japanese laid paper ().
Impressions from the cancelled plate were printed in black ink on ivory wove () and ivory laid paper (, ).