Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Subjects > Etchings > Etching

The Steps, Gray's Inn

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 282
Date: 1887
Medium: etching
Size: 67 x 179 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 7
Catalogues: K.295; M.290
Impressions taken from this plate  (7)


It is entirely etched, drawn freely with short, broken lines, and some small patches of shading and zigzag lines.


Only a handful of impressions were printed by Whistler; one is in black ink on off-white, nearly grey laid paper () and two in dark brown ink, one on ivory laid paper () and another on cream 'antique' (pre-1800) laid paper (). All are trimmed to the platemark and signed on the tab with a butterfly and 'imp.' to show that Whistler printed them.
There was a small posthumous edition authorised by Whistler's sister-in-law Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958). Nathaniel Sparks (1880-1956) printed three proofs on paper originally owned by Whistler. 7 They are signed on the verso 'Nathaniel Sparks - / Imp' so that they cannot be confused with Whistler's impressions (, ). Spots of corrosion are visible in Sparks's impressions, but they do not affect the etched areas. Both were printed in dark brown ink on laid paper with an Arms of Amsterdam watermark.

7: Note dated 18 June 1931, published in Martin Hopkinson, 'Nathaniel Sparks's Printing of Whistler's Etchings', Print Quarterly, 1999, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 340, 343, 349.