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Shipbuilder's Yard, Liverpool

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 142
Date: 1875
Medium: drypoint
Size: 279 x 152 mm
Signed: butterfly at left (1-3); redrawn (3-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 24
Catalogues: K.146; M.144; W.121
Impressions taken from this plate  (24)


man standing, pier, port, quay, river, sailing ship, scaffolding.


There are several minor variations in the title, as follows:

'Ship Builders Yard - Liverpool -' (1875, Whistler). 2
'The ship builders yard' (1875, Whistler). 3
'Ship builders yard' (1877, Whistler). 4
'The Little Mast' (1877, Charles Augustus Howell (1840?-1890)). 5
'Shipbuilder's Yard' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 6
'Ship-Builder's Yard' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 7

The title 'Shipbuilders Yard, Liverpool' is clear and descriptive and is derived from Whistler's original title.

2: Written on .

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

4: Whistler to Howell, 19 October [1877}, GUW #12735.

5: Howell to JW, 6-15 November 1877, GUW #02178.

6: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 121).

7: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 144).


In the foreground, at the extreme right, there is wooden scaffolding, and to left of this, a tall pole. A man stands to left of the pole, on the quayside and another man is faintly indicated sitting behind him, at right. Across a wide reach of water there are tall-masted sailing ships at anchor and shipping in the distance. There are a few clouds in the sky.


According to James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), the shipyard was Royden's yard in the city of Liverpool, in the county of Cheshire, UK. 8 Liverpool docks were among the biggest and busiest in the country.

8: Rose, James Anderson, Catalogue of a Collection of Etched and Engraved Works by the Best Masters Formed ... by James Anderson Rose ... Including the Most Complete Series of Mr. Whistler's Works Yet Formed ... , Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, sale catalogue, London, 30 June 1876.


Earlier dockside views include London scenes such as Millbank 078, and one Liverpool scene, Shipping at Liverpool 100. Shipbuilders Yard, Liverpool marks a return to such dockyard subjects, which included The Two Ships 143, From Billingsgate 165, Pickle Herring Wharf 164, The Tiny Pool 167 and Free Trade Wharf 171.