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

Battersea Dawn (Cadogan Pier)

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 95
Date: 1863
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 115 x 153 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 61
Catalogues: K.75; M.75; T.64; W.79
Impressions taken from this plate  (61)


barge, beach, boat, bridge, candleworks, church, ferry, pier, river, steamer, tide, worker.


There are several radically different titles, as follows:

'Batt. Dawn' (1866/1867, Whistler). 1
'Battersea dawn' (1870s, Whistler). 2
'Early Morning (Battersea)' (1871, Ellis & Green). 3
'Cadogan Pier' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 4
'Battersea Dawn (Cadogan pier)' (1881, Union League Club). 5
'Cadogan Pier' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 6
'Early Morning, Battersea' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 7

Whistler's early title 'Battersea Dawn' could be confused with the later etching, Battersea Morn 174. This similarity in titles causes problems in tracking the early history of these works. Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) commented: 'The title in the "Sixteen Etchings" was "Early Morning (Battersea)," which Mr Wedmore changed to "Cadogan Pier." The first title is much more in harmony with the effect achieved by the artist, and is, therefore, used.' 8

Rejecting 'harmony' in favour of clarity, the current title, 'Battersea Dawn (Cadogan Pier)', combines Whistler's original title with the name of the site. It was first used by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) in the Union League Club in 1881, and it is the clearest title.

1: Whistler’s Journal, [February 1866/January 1867], GUW #04335.

2: Inscribed on .

3: A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames, No. 15.

4: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 64).

5: New York 1881 (cat. no. 108).

6: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 79).

7: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 75).

8: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 75).


Across the left foreground, a rowboat lies on the shore of the River Thames, at low tide. Further away, there are three men walking along the shore to left. Beyond them is the suspended walkway to a massive pier that supports the roofed ferry terminal, surrounded by wooden piles, standing above the landing stage, which juts out into the river to right. Under the walkway is seen a small paddle steamer approaching the pier. To right, two boats are moored at the landing stage with furled sails. At far right a boat - a small barge or narrow boat - is approaching under sail. Beyond, in mid-stream, several barges are nearing the distant wooden bridge. Across the river, to right, there are substantial buildings, tall chimneys and a spire, under a cloudy sky.


Wedmore noted that it was 'A morning vision of the River, off Battersea'. 9

The dominant feature is Cadogan Pier, which was built by George Henry Cadogan (1840-1915) as a mooring point for boats on the Thames at Chelsea. It is between Battersea Bridge (which is seen in the background of the etching) and the Albert Bridge (which was not built at the time of Whistler's etching).

9: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 79).

Etching: c_K075_01
Cadogan Pier on the Thames, London, 2010.
Image credit: Photo©M.F.MacDonald, Whistler Etchings Project.
It was and still is (having been upgraded recently) a pontoon pier for the river boats and pleasure boats that cruise the Thames. The pontoon was reached by a narrow walkway suspended between tall arches on substantial piers (a miniature suspension bridge). The ferry or 'penny boat' called there regularly and it was the nearest ferry stop to Whistler's house in Lindsey Row. An anonymous watercolour dating from about 1860 shows a view of the pier, with its handsome arched supports. 10

10: Guildhall Library Print Room, Acc. No. p5354263, on-line at http:// (accessed 2008).


Even Whistler was confused about his views of Battersea bridge. In a list of etching plates he recorded a 'Battersea Morn' but then deleted that title and added 'Dawn', giving the size as '8 7/8 x 6"' (width followed by height). 11 This is definitely the size of the later etching, Battersea Dawn, whereas this earlier one, Battersea Dawn (Cadogan Pier), is 4 1/2 x 6" (height followed by width).

11: [August 1887/1888], GUW #13233.

So, there were at least two and probably three etchings that showed Battersea at dawn or in the early morning. Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896) noted in her more-or-less complete list of Whistler's etchings, 'Battersea - Dawn - Dry point' and 'Battersea early morning Battersea Bridge No. 3' - but it is not clear whether she meant two etchings, or three, namely, 'Battersea - Dawn', 'Battersea early morning' and 'Battersea Bridge No. 3'. 12

12: [1890/1892], GUW #12715.

Battersea Dawn (Cadogan Pier) can not be considered the third of Whistler's etchings to include Battersea Bridge. It is one of two, the other being Battersea Reach 096 (reproduced below), which dates from about 1863.
Etching: K0900208
These are followed by two etchings of the bridge, Under Old Battersea Bridge 168 and Old Battersea Bridge 188, which date from 1879, and are reproduced below.
Etching: K1760301
Etching: K1770403
Finally, Old Battersea Bridge, No. 2 275 was etched in 1887:
Etching: K3110105