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Chelsea Wharf

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
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)


It is lightly etched, with possibly a little drypoint in the sky and on the figure with the cart at left as well as on the butterfly signature.


Impressions of the first state were printed in black ink on ivory laid paper () and ivory Japan (). These were probably printed in 1863.
Ten years later Whistler returned to the copper plate, and it was probably then that the second state was printed, possibly in a print-run of about ten or twelve impressions. One is inscribed '1873 - / 3 -' which suggests Whistler might have numbered the early proofs of this state while printing them in 1873 (). Others are numbered '7.' () and '10-' (), possibly by Whistler, which may have been printing or sales records.
In a list of etchings Whistler included 'Chelsea Wharf (Goulding)' which suggests that it was also printed by Frederick Goulding (1842-1909), possibly when Whistler worked on it in 1873. 7 There is however no record of this particular plate in the literature on Goulding.

7: Whistler to Hogarth & Sons, 22 October [1877], GUW #12737.

It was lightly etched and lightly inked, so some impressions appear grey and very subdued. Two were printed in black ink on off-white laid paper with the pro Patria watermark (, ), and four on a cream or ivory antique laid paper with the Arms of Amsterdam watermark (i.e.). One of the latter has a deckled lower edge, and was taken from a book or ledger () and another has old pen writing on the verso, reading, in part, 'Piscator, Lightfoot / Wals.' (). The text was probably notes, gloss or commentary on the bible, since Johannes Piscator (1546-1625) was a German Reformed theologian, known as a Bible translator, and John Lightfoot (1602-1675) was an English Biblical critic and Hebraist.