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Chelsea Embankment

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 268
Date: 1886
Medium: etching
Size: 45 x 135 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 23
Catalogues: K.260; M.256; W.211
Impressions taken from this plate  (23)


It is lightly etched, with no drypoint.


The number of early impressions printed by Whistler is difficult to establish. The plate seems to have been printed by someone else after his death, and to have deteriorated rapidly.
In 1903 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought one impression (), which is trimmed to the platemark with a large tab but no butterfly, and a second impression, similarly trimmed, which has a pencil butterfly on the tab but this butterfly was definitely not drawn by Whistler ().
Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) owned an unusual impression in brown ink on off-white, almost light grey, paper (). Fairly good impressions on cream and ivory laid paper are in the Kupferstich-Kabinett Dresden () and the National Gallery of Art, Washington (), and a rather fainter impression on buff laid paper in Honolulu Academy of Arts (). These may be life-time impressions.
Examples with minor plate damage entered collections during the 1940s and 1950s (see , and .) They were presumably printed by others, after Whistler's death. An impression on cream laid paper in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC () has heavy inking, which somewhat disguises the deterioration of the plate. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, also has a late impression, with marks of pitting across the surface, which was printed at an angle on the sheet of 'modern' laid paper (). The Hunterian also acquired a late impression, clearly taken from the damaged plate ().
Of six impressions from the deeply corroded plate sold in 2004, one is on a lightweight wove paper () and the others on coarse wove paper (i.e. ); two are printed at an angle on the paper. The provenance on these various late impressions suggests that some may have been printed by 1920, and others possibly later, in the 1960s. It is possible that more impressions were printed from the corroded plate.