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The Little Pool

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 79
Date: 1861
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 104 x 127 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at right centre
Inscribed: '1861 -' at lower left (1-8); 'The Works of James Whistler : Etchings and Dry Points, are on View at E. Thomas' Publisher. / 39. Old Bond Street.' across the bottom (1-8); erased (9)
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 9
Known impressions: 76
Catalogues: K.74; M.73; T.48; W.72
Impressions taken from this plate  (76)


Nine states are known before cancellation.

State 1

Etching: K0740101
Signed 'Whistler. 1861 -' at centre left, below the figures; inscribed 'The Works of James Whistler : Etchings and Dry Points, are on View at E. Thomas' Publisher. / 39. Old Bond Street.' across the bottom.
The outlines of the composition are mostly completed in pure etching; the face of the seated figure is not indicated.

State 2

Etching: K0740102
Foul biting or a deliberate granular tone appears around the insciption at the bottom of the plate as well as on the clothing of the figures at upper right, the pier and the moored barge at right in the foreground.
There is an impression of this state with rigging drawn in black crayon in the foreground. Kennedy called it state '1a' in his catalogue, but it is a worked proof, not a separate state (see illustration below). 12

12: Kennedy 1910[more], cat. no. 74 state 1a.

Etching: K0740103
A note by Thomas, written on the lower margin of this impression, reads as follows: '2A [superscript and underlined 'A'] second state. Whistler sd [superscript 'd'] "there was a barge before a part today (March 1861) I should like to try how it would come" - he then chalked in the barge above but however did not adopt it - but made state 3.' ()

State 3

Etching: K0740305
The seated figure's face is outlined and slightly shaded, and his seat is roughly indicated; vertical and horizontal shading is added to the buildings in the background, and two new masts are added in front of them; diagonal, horizontal and curved lines are added to the sky; there is new work on the masts and rigging at upper right; a barge with a sail and five figures on deck is added at lower right; shading is added on the empty barges in the centre and foreground.
Kennedy catalogued a worked proof of this state as a separate state (his fourth state), but all the changes are in pen and ink and were not made in the copper plate (see illustration below). 13

13: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 74 state 4).

Etching: K0740401

State 4

Etching: K0740502
There is considerable new work on the two original figures at left, and a new figure, seated on the end of the pier, has been added in outline; the building in the background with the spire is more heavily shaded, as is the sky near the horizon line; the ship immediately to left of the group at upper right is enlarged; the group of ships is more heavily shaded, and their reflections are redrawn; a second rowboat is added next to the left front boat; another small rowboat is added between the group of ships and the empty barges to their left, and the two rowboats and their passengers near the foreground are further developed.

State 5

Etching: K0740601
The foul biting or deliberate granular tone is removed from the area around the lettering, figures, pier and moored barge at centre in the foreground; some lines near the granular areas are also partially removed, most notably the feet of the figure seated at the end of the pier and the figures on the barge with the sail at lower right.
The changes to the plate are explained in an inscription by Thomas, in the lower margin of the only known impression of this state, pictured above. It reads, 'The relic of this plate - I took, / according to Whistlers direction to Hughes & Kimber to have / the mist taken off the name & the wretched Goths took the whole (!) off - & spoiled it of course - March 29th 1861.'

State 6

Etching: K0740603
The two figures at left are changed, most notably the seated figure, who now holds an open book or portfolio; a group of three wooden pilings covers the seated figure at the end of the pier as well as the space below the seated figure; shading is added to the buildings in the background and to the sky, which now has curved clouds; more shading is added to the group of ships at upper right, and to the moored barges along the wharf.

State 7

Etching: K0740703
The coats of the two figures at left are heavily shaded, and the standing figure's coat now appears to be a cloak or overcoat; more detail is added to both figures' faces; horizontal lines are added to the top of the pier, and the right edge of the pier is now defined by a curving line; the mooring ring on the front side of the pier is more completely delineated; stronger outlines and more shading are added to the small standing figure to right of the pier; more fine shading is added to the buildings in the background and to the sky; the reflections of the ships at upper right are further developed; the mast, sail and remnants of all but one figure on the barge at lower right are removed, with the exception of a few short lines from the rigging, which are visible across the larger rowboat at right; heavy shading is added to the hulls of the rightmost ships, and reflections are added below them; heavier shading is added to the three moored barges in the foreground.

State 8

Etching: K0740701
More lines are added on the two figures at left, most notably two short right to left diagonal lines (//) on the coat-tail of the standing figure, a long curving diagonal line from his waist to ankle and more shading on his hat; the top outline of the end of the pier is reinforced with a diagonal line, and there is new shading below it; there is more shading on the small standing figure to right of the pier; more horizontal and diagonal lines are added to the upper part of the sky; the reflections of the sailing ships at upper right are extended almost to the larger rowboat, which itself is more heavily shaded; the barges moored along the wharf are more heavily shaded, and there are strong horizontals and diagonals added to the the three in the foreground.

State 9

Etching: K0740802
The inscription at the bottom of the plate is removed.
The plate corners are rounded.
Impressions of the final state vary, depending on the inking of the drypoint lines and wear and scratches on the plate.
Published in the 'Thames Set' in this state.

State 9 (cancelled)

Etching: K0740902
Cancelled with three horizontal lines crossed by two vertical lines.