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Pickle Herring Wharf

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 164
Date: 1876/1877
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 152 x 229 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 8
Known impressions: 30
Catalogues: K.167; M.163; W.137
Impressions taken from this plate  (30)


Etching: K1670103
It is done in both etching and drypoint. An impression of the first state (reproduced above) was extensively worked over in a monochrome wash, and was acquired by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (). In it Whistler emphasized the shaded background of warehouses on both banks, the dark hulls of the steamboats, the sky, and reflections in the water below the sailing boats.


There may have been a print-run of as many as ten impressions before cancellation.
Wedmore wrote that 'Mr. Menpes has a trial proof without any dry point'. 11

The plate was probably printed mainly in 1877, when Whistler, in an invoice to Messrs Hogarth, listed this etching with a date and number, possibly as a record of printing a small edition: 'Pickle herring Stairs - (Oct. 12 -) No. 5 4-4-0'. 12 This is further confirmed by a sale to C. A. Howell, also in October 1877, where one impression is listed:
'Pickle herring Stairs Oct 12th No. 6'. 13

11: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 137).

12: 22-27 October [1877], GUW#12737.

13: 12 October-5 November [1877], GUW #12735.

Impressions were printed in black ink on laid paper of various off-white shades, with the 'DEDB' and/or beehive watermark (, , ); and De Erven De Blauw watermarked cream paper (); as well as on dark ivory 'antique' (pre-1800) (); off-white with short blue fibres, from a book with old pen inscriptions in Greek (); ivory watermarked paper () with Arms of Amsterdam (), 'PD' countermark () and with encircled 'B. TH' watermark ().
It was published in an album of Cancelled Plates ('Cancelled Set') by The Fine Art Society, London, 1879, probably in an edition of between 20 and 24. It was printed in black ink, mostly on laid paper. Watermarks include Strasbourg Lily/WGL () and Strasbourg Lily (). At least one is on cream wove paper ().