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Rag Shop, Milman's Row, Chelsea

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 329
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 153 x 229 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: illegible inscription at lower left
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 12
Catalogues: K.272; M.267
Impressions taken from this plate  (12)


Rag Shop, Milman's Row, Chelsea was primarily etched, and Whistler used both etching and drypoint to add shading. A patch of foul biting on the closed door shows distinct horizontal directional acid droplets, an indication that Whistler probably etched some new lines directly into the copper plate, without reapplying etching ground and immersing the plate in an acid bath. The horizontal droplets suggest the motion of a feather whisked across the plate, a technique Whistler was known to use for etching details into copper plates. 10

10: See Bacher 1908[more], pp. 193-4.


This may have been the 'Rag Shop' of which Whistler printed three impressions on 4 September 1887. 11 It is a comparatively rare etching. Three impressions remained in the artist's estate, one of the first state (), another of the second state () and one a slight variant ().

11: Printing record, GUW #12716.

Most impressions are on cream or ivory laid paper, several with a watermark, including the first state, printed in black ink on ivory Pro Patria laid paper () and the second in dark brown ink on paper with a foolscap watermark (). Three others are on sheets with the watermark of a crown over 'V', with a lion rampant (, , ). All are trimmed to the platemark and signed on the tab with a butterfly and 'imp.' to show that Whistler had printed them.