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Chelsea Wharf

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
(1905.163)
Number: 97
Date: 1863
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 93 x 192 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right (1-2); butterfly at lower right (2)
Inscribed: '1863 -' at lower right
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 12
Catalogues: K.89; M.89; T.75; W.81
Impressions taken from this plate  (12)

PUBLICATION

Chelsea Wharf was not published.

EXHIBITIONS

It was first exhibited in Whistler's first one-man show in London in 1874 as 'Old Chelsea Wharf '. 8 In the same year it was shown in the travelling exhibition of the collection of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890). 9 An impression from the collection of Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) was shown at the Union League Club in New York in 1881 with the description, 'Very early impression' () 10

Thereafter it was not much exhibited, though impressions appeared at H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 (bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919)), and at Obach & Co. in London in 1903. An impression was lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) to a show organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900. 11

Impressions were also shown in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death. Freer lent an impression () to the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and another, lent from the Royal Collection, was shown at the London Exhibition of 1905. 12

8: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 3).

9: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 500).

10: New York 1881 (cat. no. 110).

11: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 76); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

12: New York 1904a (cat. no. 84); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 81).

SALES & COLLECTORS

Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) owned an impression of the first state, bought from Hermann Wunderlich & Co., New York, through Thomas Wilmer Dewing (1851-1938) by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in November 1898 (). Freer bought another from the collection of Thomas Way (1837-1915) in 1905 (). Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921) owned an impression of the second state, about which he wrote:
'This exquisitely suggestive and delicate little print was wrought in 1863. There are one or two impressions before the butterfly monogram. My impression - on thin Japanese paper - has the butterfly, and has a similar butterfly drawn in the margin in pencil, with Whistler's signature and a date '73.' / Very scarce.' 13
Whistler sold an impression of 'Chelsea Wharf ' to William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916) in 1877 (). It was bequeathed to his daughter, Rachel Alexander, and sold by her executors with 19 other etchings for a total of 3165.0.0 to the British Museum, London, in 1973. The Museum acquired a second example in 1890 (). 14

The artist also sold impressions to Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890) and to J. Hogarth & Sons in 1877 for 4.4.0. 15 By 1886, when he sold one to the London print dealer, Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832), and in 1887 and 1889, to Messrs Dowdeswell, the price had gone up to 6.6.0. 16

At auctions it seems to have fetched much less - in 1892, for instance, another London print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) bought one for 3.12.6 and Deprez & Gutekunst bought another for even less, 2.8.0. 17

14: Whistler to Alexander, [March/April 1875], GUW #07573; ditto, (22 October [1877], #12737; Report of Gere, Keeper of the Print Room, 17 August 1973, B. M., Trustees' Reports.

15: Whistler to Howell, 12 October-5 November 1877, GUW #12735; to Hogarth, 22-7 October [1877], #12737.

16: Whistler to T. McLean, [1 November 1886], GUW #13010; to Dowdeswell, 28 April 1887, #13020; 3 August 1889, #13092.

17: Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 130); Christie's, 8 March 1892 (lot 309).