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Penny Passengers, Limehouse

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 71
Date: 1860
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 81 x 206 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 5
Catalogues: K.67; M.67; W.59
Impressions taken from this plate  (5)


The original composition was etched, with fine drypoint shading added along the horizon to differentiate warehouses and sky. There is considerable foul biting across the unetched areas of the plate.


Penny Passengers, Limehouse is very rare, with only five impressions known in public collections. Impressions of the first state are in black ink, one on cream 'modern' (post-1800) laid paper with a Pro Patria watermark (), and another on ivory laid paper (). The second state was printed both in black () and brown ink (, ) on laid paper. Some sheets appear to have been taken from a copy or notes on a 16th-century legal treatise by Juan Medina (ca 1490-1546), De poenitentia, restitutione, et contractibus, published in Ingolstädt, 1581 (, ). 16 The latter impression also () bears a mysterious note in code written in graphite pencil, '1. rt - 21 - x' which may relate to printing or to the selection of the impression for sale or exhibition.

16: On Medina, Professor of Theology in Alcalá, see M. Grice-Hutchinson, Early Economic Thought in Spain, 1177-1740, Allen & Unwin, Australia, 1978, p. 96.

Some of the impressions were trimmed to the platemark and signed later. It is not certain when they were printed. Two, however, were signed about 1887, and may have been prints sold by Whistler to Messrs Dowdeswell in 1887 for £5.5.0 (, ). 17 Another was signed by the artist about 1890 (). One print, a perfectly good impression from the important collection of Howard Mansfield (1849-1938), was trimmed and signed on a unique semi-circular tab with an odd butterfly that impinges on the image and may not be by Whistler at all ().

17: 28 April 1887, GUW #13020.