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Battersea Reach

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 96
Date: 1863
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 134 x 209 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: '1863. - ' at lower right
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 19
Catalogues: K.90; M.90
Impressions taken from this plate  (19)


barge, boat, bridge, cancelled plate, church, factory, people, river, rowing boat, sailing ship.


There are several possible titles, as for example:

Possibly 'Battersea Reach' (1877, Whistler). 1
'Opposite Lindsay Row' (1898, Wunderlich's). 2
'Sailing Boats off Battersea' (1905, ISSPG). 3
'Battersea Reach' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) ). 4

Although it is not absolutely certain that it is Whistler's title (because the first mention listed above may refer to another etching), the title 'Battersea Reach' was preferred by later cataloguers.

1: Whistler to C. A. Howell, 14-16 November [1877], GUW #13668.

2: New York 1898 (cat. no. 294).

3: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 384).

4: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 90).


The Thames, looking across the river to Battersea, at low tide. On the Chelsea shore, in the foreground at left, are a number of figures. In the centre (Mansfield says, 'near a float' 5 ) a boardwalk leads to the water, beside some grounded rowing boats. Men, some with oars, are coming and going, some setting off, or landing from, a low skiff in the water. Beyond, there are other rowboats, some moored in the river at right, and further out, several small barges with sails half raised, heading upstream. The spire of a church, buildings, and factory chimneys are seen on the opposite bank under a cloudy sky. In the distance, at left, an iron bridge spans the river.

5: ibid.


The bridge in the distance is the Battersea / Wandsworth Railway Bridge, part of the West London Extension Railway, which opened for freight on 3 March 1863. It connected lines running south from Waterloo, Victoria and Clapham Junction with those going north from Euston and Paddington. It contained both standard gauge track and the broad gauge railway tracks needed for Great Western Railway stock. A viaduct culminated in the five spans of the bridge itself, crossing the Thames, which is 706 foot wide at this point. 6

6: 'Money-Market & City Intelligence', The Times, London, 4 March 1863, p. 7.