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The Punt

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 82
Date: 1861
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 120 x 166 mm
Signed: 'Whistler' at lower left (1-3); 'W' partly removed (4-final)
Inscribed: '1861.' at lower left (1-3); partly removed (4-final)
Set/Publication: Junior Etching Club, 1862
No. of States: 6
Known impressions: 35
Catalogues: K.85; M.86; T.85; W.68
Impressions taken from this plate  (35)


It is mainly etching, with light, wavy drypoint lines added to suggest clouds, which wore down and were replaced as printing continued.


It is usually printed in black ink, sometimes on thin Japanese paper laid down on wove paper, but more often on wove paper. The majority of impressions in public collections are of platemark 120 x 165 mm on wove paper of 163 x 235 mm (i.e. , ). There are examples of the large paper edition () and impressions on Japanese paper laid down on wove paper ( and ), and on wove paper ().
Some proofs were pulled by Frederick Goulding (1842-1909). These have not been identified. The Pennells record:
'For two of the plates of 1861, the Junior Etching Club found a place when, a year later, they published Passages from Modern English Poets, with their etchings as illustrations; and Whistler, occasionally trying his plates at the press of Day and Son, came into contact with the man, then a lad, he afterwards called "the best printer in England," Mr. Frederick Goulding, who sends us the following recollections of the time: ..."I mind me I first knew [Whistler] about 1859, when he used to come to the printing house where I was apprenticed (the old firm of Day and Son - in Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields) and print himself at my father's press. I used some [t]imes to act as his 'devil' grinding the ink, and turning the press, and so on. "I think the first plate I actually 'proved' for him was in 1861 - The Punt - he used to come frequently in the eighteen-seventies, and I then printed a good many plates for him.' 10
Whistler wrote on one impression,
'Only to show you mon cher that I have not forgotten - In a day or two, both these plates will be ready - there is very little retouching to do -' and 'Do find my notation -' and 'This is a proof I pulled myself at Day's - after their man Golding [sic] had pulled me a couple -' ().
After this a printer at Day & Son pulled another proof, on which Whistler, according to Kennedy, wrote 'Proof by Day's man.', and this impression, unfortunately not located, was acquired by Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935). 11

11: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 85).