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Dry Docks, Southampton

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 302
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 67 x 178 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 9
Catalogues: K.322; M.317; W.240
Impressions taken from this plate  (9)


boat, crane, jubilee, quay, sea, steamboat, ship, ship-building, timber-yard, warehouse.


Variations on the title by Whistler and his cataloguers are as follows:

'Dry docks Southampton' (1887, Whistler). 2
'Dry Docks - Southampton // Naval Review' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 3
'Southampton Docks' (1899, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 4
'Dry-Dock, Southampton' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 5

The variations are mainly grammatical and the various titles contain similar information. There is no reason to change Whistler's original title, except for adding the necessary punctuation so that it becomes 'Dry Docks, Southampton'.

2: Whistler to T. McLean, 20 August 1887, GUW #13089.

3: GUW #12715.

4: Wedmore 1899[more] (cat. no. 240).

5: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 322).


A view across the water, with two steam ships at right. On the far shore at left is a fence of open palings, and at right, some small boats, and a timber yard. Behind these is a row of warehouses and sheds, with small derricks and cranes, all under a cloudy sky.


The port of Southampton, on the south coast of England. The view may show the River Itchen looking from the Docks across the river towards Woolston, with Woolston church just visible in the distance. The boatyard would have been the ramshackle shipbuilding yard of Oswald Mordaunt. 6

During the Naval Review, the Ajax and the appropriately named Devastation collided and had to go into drydock at Southampton. 7

Whistler also painted two watercolours during his visit, Grey and silver, Docks, Southampton m1141 and Silver and Blue: Southampton m1142. 8

6: Thanks to Alastair Arnott, Curator, Southampton City Council, and M.H. Hopkinson for this information.

7: Times, London, 27 July 1887, p. 10.

8: State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg; the former has not been located.


Dockside subjects etched by Whistler include Thames Warehouses 046, Limehouse 048, The Pool 049, Eagle Wharf 050, Billingsgate 051, Thames Police 053, Black Lion Wharf 054, Stevens' Boat Yard 056, Rotherhithe 070, Vauxhall Bridge 075, The Little Rotherhithe 074, The Little Pool 079, Chelsea Wharf 097, Shipping at Liverpool 100, Shipbuilder's Yard, Liverpool 142, Steamboats off the Tower 156, Pickle Herring Wharf 164, From Billingsgate 165, Wapping - The Pool 180, The Tiny Pool 167 and Little Dordrecht 260.