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Stevens' Boat Yard

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 56
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 154 x 229 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.48; M.47; T.83; W.48
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)


barge, boy, cancelled plate, riverscape, rowing boat, sailing ship, ship-building, warehouse, wharf, worker.


There are several very different titles for this etching, as follows:

'W. STEVENS. BOAT & BARGE BUIL[DER]' (1859, Whistler). 1
'Stevens & Son' (1877, Whistler). 2
'Stevens' (1877, Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890)). 3
'A Wharf' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 4
'A Thames Sketch' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 5
'Stevens' Boat Yard' (2009, Whistler Etching Project).

The name etched on the copper plate provides the basis for the descriptive title, 'Stevens' Boat Yard.'

1: Etched on the signboard in the etching.

2: Whistler to C. A. Howell, [16/21 November 1877], GUW #12740.

3: Howell to Whistler, [1877?], GUW #02181.

4: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 38).

5: Mansfield 1910 (cat. no. 47).


In the foreground are three boys, all wearing peaked caps. The scene is lit from the left and the boys' faces are in shadow. At right is a barge, and behind that, to right, rowboats and a man looking at a rowing boat raised up on a wooden framework. In the centre are more barges in front of a wharf with two and three-storey wooden buildings and warehouses, including one with a derrick bearing the sign 'W. STEVENS. BOAT & BARGE BUIL[DER]'. Farther away are the outlines of more buildings, and shipping in the river at far left. In the river to left is a loaded boat, with one man rowing and another seated.


The figures have not been identified - they appear to be young boys, possibly picking up a living working on the barges or wharves.


William Henry Stevens, boat builder, was at 40 Rotherhithe Street, London, SE. 6

6: London Postal Directory, 1859.