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Steamboats off the Tower

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 156
Date: 1875
Medium: drypoint
Size: 154 x 225 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 9
Catalogues: K.149; M.147; W.114
Impressions taken from this plate  (9)


Steamboats off the Tower was not published.


Two early impressions described as 'Trial proof' () and 'Another state. Trial proof' (probably ) were lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) to the Union League Club in New York in 1881 under the title 'From the Custom House' . 11 Later, this time as 'Steamboats off the Tower' an impression from the collection of Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) was shown in a print dealer's show, by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898 and bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (). 12 Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent an impression to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (). 13

Impressions were exhibited in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, including the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905, to which an impression of Steamboats off the Tower was lent by H.R.H. the Princess Victoria. 14

11: New York 1881 (cat. nos. 131, 132).

12: New York 1898 (cat. no. 99).

13: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 102).

14: New York 1904a (cat. no. 115); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 114); See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.


An impression listed as 'Steamboats off Tower' was sold by Whistler to the London print dealer, Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832), for the high price of 10.10.0 in 1887, with several other rare etchings. 15 It may have been bought by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) () or Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) ().

15: 17 May 1887, GUW #13011.

Haden's impression was sold through H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898 to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (). Other American collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (, ) and John Henry Wrenn (1841-1911) (). Wrenn may have bought his impression from Wunderlich's (stock no. a 38600).
Wunderlich's also handled an impression (stock no. a 39363) that was later given by Harold K. Hochschild (1892-1981) to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York () and two (stock nos. a 49478; and 'a 38970 / a 59640' ) which were both given by Lessing Julius Rosenwald (1891-1971) to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC ().