Steamboats off the Tower
|Size:||154 x 225 mm|
|Signed:||butterfly at upper right|
|No. of States:||4|
|Catalogues:||K.149; M.147; W.114|
|Impressions taken from this plate (9)|
'Custom house Wharf' (1870s, Whistler). 2
'From the Custom House - Thames' (1870s, Whistler). 3
'From the Custom House' (1881, Union League Club). 4
'Steamboats off the Tower' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 5
'Steamboats off Tower' (1887, Whistler). 6
'Steamboat off Tower (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 7
It is not absolutely clear why Whistler changed the title, or which is best. The original title 'Custom house Wharf' could be confused with that of Custom House 179, while 'Steamboats off the Tower' could be confused with Steamboat Fleet, Chelsea 155.
However, 'Steamboats off the Tower' has become the generally accepted title and does reflect the two conspicuous elements in the view (steamboats and the Tower of London).
The view east from the Custom House could include boats off the Tower, and the Tower itself, and the entrance to St Katharine's Dock, which would account for the various titles given to this etching. 9
The spire may be that of the church of St Paul, Dock Street, not far east of the Tower of London, or St Mary's, Cable Street, which is further east. The view is now completely obscured by more recent buildings.
8: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 147).
9: Custom House Wharf, Photograph, National Maritime Museum, MacFee Collection, N29700, repr. at http:// www.portcities.org.uk (accessed 2008).