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Under Old Battersea Bridge

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 168
Date: 1876/1878
Medium: etching, drypoint and open bite
Size: 216 x 139 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.176; M.173
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)
Under Old Battersea Bridge is particularly difficult to date. In the collection of Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) is an impression of Under Old Battersea Bridge that is inscribed '1879.' () but the date appears to have been written over another date, and probably not by Whistler. However, this impression was signed by Whistler with a pencil butterfly dating from slightly earlier, possibly between 1876 and 1878.
Although Under Old Battersea Bridge shows the same bridge as Old Battersea Bridge 188, the two are etched in a totally different manner, and Old Battersea Bridge definitely dates from later, in the late summer of 1879. Under Old Battersea Bridge is much closer in composition to a lithograph dating from July 1878, The Tall Bridge c012, but it is even bolder, with an extraordinarily daring close-up view of the bridge framing the distant shore of Chelsea and Chelsea Suspension Bridge.
The technique is highly experimental, with its deeply etched outlines and manipulated foul-biting or open-bite. It has technical similarities to Limehouse 048 and to a lesser extent to W. Jones, Lime-Burner, Thames Street 055, both of which are dated 1859. The copper plate is very close in size to a number of etchings, including ones dated 1859-1861 (Soupe trois sous 064, Bibi Valentin 034, Old Hungerford Bridge 076) and from the mid- to late 1870s (Sleeping Girl 127, Nude Reclining 126, The Desk 129, Wych Street, London 176, Steamboat Fleet, Chelsea 155 and Wych Street, London 176).