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Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 240
Date: 1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 127 x 177 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left, faint butterfly upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 9
Known impressions: 29
Catalogues: K.233; M.230; W.162
Impressions taken from this plate  (29)


anvil, cart, forge, interior, man, wheelwright, worker.


It has almost always been known by the same title, as for example:

'Wheelwright' (1883, F.A.S.). 2
'Wheelwright' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 3

2: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 3).

3: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 162).


The interior of a wheelwright's workshop, with skylights in the peaked roof, and with cross-beams, on which material is stored. In the foreground at the right, near an anvil, a man is bending over a wheel. Beyond him a man stands holding a wheel upright. At the extreme right two men are at work by a forge. In the distance, two men are bending forward in front of a large wheel at the right, and a man stands in front of a bench at the left. At the far end of the workshop is a large covered wagon.


Probably London, or in the south of England.


Forges, furnaces and smiths are a recurrent subject in Whistler's work, providing dramatic lighting and complex figure compositions - and a nice warm place to work. These include several etchings (The Forge 086, Nocturne: Furnace 208, Murano - Glass Furnace 205, The Smithy 239 and Flaming Forge 490). Numerous lithographs show similar subjects (The Tyresmith c036, The Whitesmiths, Impasse des Carmélites c092, The Forge, Passage du Dragon c102, The Smith, Passage du Dragon c103, The Master Smith c120, The Sunny Smithy c121, The Good Shoe c122, Father and Son c123, The Strong Arm c125, The Blacksmith c127 and The Brothers c128). In addition there are several related drawings (Study for 'The Little Forge' (K.147) m0574, Sketch of 'The Whitesmiths, Impasse des Carmélites' m1417, Sketches of 'The Forge: Passage du Dragon' and 'The Smith: Passage du Dragon' m1450, r.: The Blacksmith's, Howth; v.: Horse in a stable m1619, r.: The Forge; v.: Smiths, Ajaccio m1679, The Flaming Forge, Ajaccio m1678). Finally there is one later oil painting, The Little Forge, Lyme Regis y442.