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Wapping - The Pool

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 180
Date: 1878/1879
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 189 x 279 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left (4-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 8
Known impressions: 14
Catalogues: K.174; M.171; W.143
Impressions taken from this plate  (14)


Wapping - The Pool was never published.


Although comparatively scarce, in New York it was shown at the Union League Club in 1881, lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (). 10 Impressions were for sale in exhibitions by major print dealers including H. Wunderlich & Co. New York in 1898 and 1903, and Obach & Co. in London in 1903. 11 Impressions were shown in Chicago at the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 and at international exhibitions in Buffalo (1901) and Philadelphia (1902), the latter lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938). Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent his impression to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (). 12

10: New York 1881 (cat. no. 152).


12: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 174).

Finally it was shown in the Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death, by the Grolier Club in New York and the Copley Society in Boston in 1904. King Edward VII lent an impression to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905 (). 13

13: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 143).


This was clearly envisaged as an important etching, and was intended to raise some much needed cash. Whistler wrote to Richard Rivington Holmes (1835-1911), curator of the Royal Collection, in 1878 or 1879:
'I send you down by Post registered the proof of the new plate! - "Wapping - the Dock" - printed and signed by myself / Now, my dear Director, ... get me the cheque sent down in a day or two ... The price is Six guineas - voilą tout and I only wish I could send you more proofs - However, in a little while I may have something new again - / ... I am sure you will like the etching - just write me a line to say so - and tell me that it arrived safely and all right - ' 14
Holmes apparently liked it and the etching was bought for the Royal Collection (). It was also used as a gift to placate or thank James Waddell at the time of Whistler's bankruptcy (). It did not of course avert his bankruptcy, but in its style and composition prefigured the etchings done in Venice, where Whistler fled in 1879 after he was declared 'insolvent'.
After returning from Venice in 1880, Whistler sold an impression of 'The Pool', which may have been Wapping - The Pool, in 1884 to the London print dealers, The Fine Art Society (who had financed his trip to Venice) for £4.4.0, which seems a bit low. 15 However, the low price was consistent with the price it fetched at auction.

15: 23 June 1884, GUW #01175.

Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) owned several impressions. They were sold after his death, at Sotheby's on 2 March 1893, Lot 226, a 'trial proof', and Lot 227, 'another proof before the monogram', being bought by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) for £4.0.0. and £4.10.0 respectively. One of the Hutchinson impressions, a second state, went to Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934); it was later acquired by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) () and ultimately went to the Art Institute of Chicago. One of the later states was bought from Keppel by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) () and the other went to the Royal Collection; it was sold through Messrs Agnew in London and Wunderlich's in New York to Clarence Buckingham (1855-1913) and ultimately rejoined its companion in Chicago ().
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) owned a good impression of the first state that went eventually to the Library of Congress (). Other early collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) () and George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (). Freer, having bought a third state in 1892 bought a later state from Thomas Way (1837-1915) in 1905 ().