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Chelsea Bridge and Church

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 102
Date: 1871
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 103 x 170 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 56
Catalogues: K.95; M.96; T.53; W.85
Impressions taken from this plate  (56)


The main composition was etched but considerable work in dypoint was used to create more atmospheric effects. Whistler changed the composition radically, removing a barge at right after a couple of early proofs. He then drew an alternative composition with a tree in the right foreground (). This was not etched, and instead a sailing barge in the middle distance was substituted.
Only one or two impressions of the early states are recorded, which are really working proofs (, , and ).
The original delicate drypoint was strengthened in later states, occasionally resulting in some very uneven richness in the lines, but eventually it wore down and the lines have an indecisive, soft and speckled appearance. This may be why Wedmore referred to it as a 'not perfectly satisfactory dry-point'. 13 Some impressions were printed with plate tone to compensate for the fading drypoint (, ). In some cases the drypoint lines are almost concealed by the surface ink tone on the boats and Thames banks, while the water and sky was rubbed bare, suggesting the glow of light on water ().

13: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 85).

The cancelled impressions, printed without burr, show clearly the patches of shading, some vertical, some horizontal, some diagonal, used like patchwork to build up the flat-looking masses of the waterfront, and boats, as well as the very fine wavy drypoint lines across the sky. It was clearly a difficult plate to print.


Most impressions were printed in black ink although a few late impressions are in a dark brown ink (i.e. , ). Most impressions are on laid paper but a few impressions of the final state are on Asian (, ) and wove paper (, ).
Several were printed on DEDB (DE ERVEN DE BLAUW) and/or beehive watermarked laid paper, including a fifth state () and several impressions of the sixth state, as first published in the 'Thames Set' (, ). The main print-run for the 'Thames Set', in the seventh state, both before and after the steel facing was removed, was in black ink on laid paper (, ), several with watermarks, including 'DE ERVEN DE BLAUW' (, ), and 'KF' (). One sheet has distinct indents along one edge, showing that it came from a book or ledger (). Usually the paper was not trimmed or signed, though one impression of the final state was returned to Whistler for signing, probably in the 1890s (). A cancelled impression on laid paper is unusual in having a Strasbourg lily watermark ().