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Old Hungerford Bridge

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 76
Date: 1861
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 140 x 215 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Thames Set', 1871
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 65
Catalogues: K.76; M.76; T.37; W.80
Impressions taken from this plate  (65)


barge, bridge, river, pier, rowing boat, suspension bridge, steamer, warehouse.


The published titles all include the site, 'Hungerford', but with slight variations, as follows:

'Hungerford Bridge' (1863, R.A.) 1
'Old Hungerford' (1871, Ellis & Green). 2
'Old Hungerford' (1870s, Whistler). 3
'Hungerford Bridge' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 4
'Old Hungerford Bridge' (Flemish Gallery, 1874). 5
'Old Hungerford Bridge' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 6

It is not certain that references to another Hungerford subject concern the same etching. These are as follows:

'The oyster smacks old Hungerford Market' (1875, Whistler). 7
'Oyster Smacks' (1877, Whistler). 8

The original title of the etching as published in 1871, 'Old Hungerford' could mean both the bridge and the market, both of which are conspicuous in the scene. This is a slightly different meaning to that published in Whistler's 1874 exhibition catalogue, 'Old Hungerford Bridge', but it is the latter that was adopted by later cataloguers.

1: London RA 1863.

2: A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames.

3: Written on .

4: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 37).

5: London Pall Mall 1874 (cat. no. 19).

6: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 80).

7: Whistler to W. C. Alexander, [March/April 1875?], GUW #07573.

8: Whistler to F.A.S., 10 October 1877, GUW #12734.


In the middle distance is a suspension-bridge, with towers resting on massive piers, and to left, the roadway running up to the bridge is supported on tall piles. A pier runs out from the shore at left, below the piles, to the landing-float at Hungerford Pier, where steamboats are clustered.
The iron columns supporting the Charing Cross railway-bridge are visible through the bridge, as are the warehouses and chimneys of the buildings along the far bank.
In the foreground there is a pole in the bottom right corner, and planks on the beach beside it, with barges and rowboats to left. In the river there are more barges, including a Thames barge with sail furled, and a side-wheel paddle steamer.
In later states the towers of the Houses of Parliament appeared in the distance at left. See STATES.


Thomas wrote that this showed both 'the old bridge and the new iron bridge for the railway to Charing Cross'. Wedmore described it: 'Looking down on the Thames, with several barges and river steamers by Hungerford Pier. In the middle distance the old Suspension Bridge, now removed to Clifton, and by it the new railway bridge to Charing Cross Station. The distance is a view of the Borough.' 9

John Wykeham Archer (1808-1864) painted a watercolour of Hungerford Bridge from Savoy Wharf in 1861. 10

9: Thomas, op. cit., Wedmore, op. cit..

10: British Museum, 1874,0314.401; Binyon, Laurence, Catalogue of drawings by British artists, and artists of foreign origin working in Great Britain, 4 vols., London, 1898, X (13).


This is one of numerous etchings of London bridges by Whistler, dating from 1859 to 1889, including Old Westminster Bridge 047, Vauxhall Bridge 075, Westminster Bridge in Progress 077, Chelsea Bridge and Church 102, London Bridge 172, Old Putney Bridge 185, Little Putney Bridge 186, Old Battersea Bridge 188 and Charing Cross Bridge 348.