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The Forge

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 86
Date: 1861
Medium: drypoint
Size: 197 x 319 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1861' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 6
Known impressions: 95
Catalogues: K.68; M.68; T.57; W.63
Impressions taken from this plate  (95)


Six states are known before cancellation.

State 1

Etching: K0680101
Signed and dated 'Whistler. / 1861' ( 't' not crossed) at lower right.
The composition is complete. There is a space with no lines in front of the smith's face, a tiny blank (white) space behind his head and larger areas with no lines in the background at right.

State 2

Etching: K0680203
The space in front of the smith's face is shaded with fine horizontal lines; the back of the smith's leg or apron is sketched with strong, nearly vertical lines; the hats of the smith's assistants are redrawn and are darker; some shading is added to their figures as well as to the anvil and the area around it; the woman behind the forge at left, who was looking down, is now looking up and shading is added below her head; shading is added to the skirt and left sleeve of the seated woman at right as well as to the spaces between her and the child, and between the child and the assistants; much of the background is covered with long horizontal lines; strong diagonal lines cross the upper right corner of the plate and patches of diagonals are added to the wall both below and to left of them; strong horizontal and slanting lines augment the shading across the bottom of the plate; a few vertical lines are added to the flue above the forge at extreme left.
In the impression reproduced, the blots of ink at upper left are the result of strong drypoint burr.

State 3

Etching: K0680202
A patch of diagonal lines is added under the smith's left forearm; more strong diagonal lines are added to the bottom of his apron, which now extends further downward; more shading is added to the bench in the background, between the second assistant and the child; strong horizontal lines are added to the flue of the forge.

State 4

Etching: K0680303
Vertical lines and new horizontal lines are added at upper left, on the flue of the forge; new near-horizontal lines are added on the wall behind the woman at left; more horizontal lines are added on the smith's apron, blending with the shading on the floor; the shading under the smith's arm, added in state 3, has worn or been reduced, but new close diagonal shading is added between the smith's apron and the assistant behind him; a curved line defines the base of the anvil; light vertical lines reinforce the shading on the side of the anvil; strong diagonal lines are added below the anvil at left and behind it at right, covering the right foot of the assistant on the right; new horizontal lines augment the shading above the tools.
Etching: K0680307
Effects vary with inking and wear of the drypoint lines and burr. A richly inked impression is illustrated above, and a lightly inked impression is illustrated below:
Etching: K0680330
Published in the 'Thames Set' in this state; impressions generally conform to the lightly inked version.

State 5

Etching: K0680331
The hat brim of the assistant directly behind the smith is reinforced with new curved lines and darkened; a number of pits and small scratches appear across the image, most notably on the wall above the woman and man at right.

State 6

Etching: K0680402
The tiny blank space to right of the smith's head is filled in with fine lines.
Many impressions were professionally printed with considerable plate tone for F. Keppel & Co. before 1896.

State 6 (cancelled)

Etching: K0680501
Cancelled with diagonal, vertical and horizontal lines crossing in the centre.