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A Sketch of Shipping

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 57
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 154 x 228 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Cancelled Plates', 1879
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 20
Catalogues: K.151; M.48; T.84; W.127
Impressions taken from this plate  (20)


barge, boat, river, sailors, sailing ship.


Whistler's original title is not known. The three published titles show minor variations:

'A Sketch of Ships' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 2
'Sketch of Shipping' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 3
'Sketch of Ships' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 4

'A Sketch of Shipping', based on Mansfield's title, covers the range of boats, barges and tall ships sketched by the artist.

2: Wedmore 1899[more] (cat. no. 127) [check].

3: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 48).

4: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 151).


Diagonally across the left foreground is a barge with hatches battened down. Behind it, dominating the left half of the plate, is a tall three-masted ship with a dark hull, and a couple of men standing near the bow (the bowsprit goes off the edge of the plate at left). There are several manned small boats, a sailing boat and barges alongside. Behind the three-master are several other sailing ships. At far right is another three-masted sailing ship, faintly outlined.


The site is probably the River Thames in London, but it could be Liverpool docks.