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Return to Tilbury

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 311
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 133 x 97 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 18
Catalogues: K.327; M.321; W.244
Impressions taken from this plate  (18)
Return to Tilbury dates from 23 July 1887.
The fiftieth anniversary of the coronation of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was celebrated in 1887. Jubilee celebrations included a Naval Review at Spithead on 23 July. Whistler was invited to attend, and during the day he made twelve etchings, the 'Jubilee Set'. In presenting the set of the etchings to the Queen, Whistler wrote to William Smith (1808-1876):
'Having been officially invited, as President of the Royal Society of British Artists, to attend the Review by Her Majesty of her Fleet at Spithead ... I felt myself moved to offer some tribute, within the scope of my own art, ... to the enduring significance of a magnificent [spectacle] which was something grander and loftier than a mere pageant.

I have accordingly embodied my impressions and observations, on that memorable day, in a set of Etchings - notes, as I may say of the needle, not the pen, taken at the moment and from point to point of that Imperial but pacific and more than Roman triumph, from Tilbury fort to the waters of Portsmouth.' 1