James Abbott McNeill Whistler

An original James Abbott McNeill Whistler Etching.


Original etching printed in black ink on laid paper bearing a “Crowned Shield with Diagonal Bars” watermark, and “Anno Domini 1665” countermark.

Signed in the plate with the artist’s butterfly monogram lower left.

A superb, richly printed impression of Kennedy’s third and final state, Glasgow’s fourth state of four, printed after the addition of the fine horizontal drypoint shading to the square building second from the left, one of only 49 known impressions from this plate, from the edition published by Thomas M. McLean of The Printsellers Association, London, 1879.

Catalog: Kennedy 181 iii/iii; Glasgow 184 iv/iv; Mansfield 178; Grolier Club 148; Wedmore 147.

Platemark: 5 3/8 x 7 15/16 inches Sheet size: 8 3/4 x 13 13/16 inches

This study is one of the finest of the group of Thames studies that Whistler made in 1879 when his financial position was at its worst. Having fallen out with his patron Fredrick Leyland over Whistler’s decoration of the “Peacock Room” at the Leyland estate, as a result being left without payment of more than £2,000, and with only a moral victory in his libel case against the controversial art critic John Ruskin (Whistler was awarded damages of only one farthing), he was inundated with debts and dunned constantly by his creditors. In an effort to make some money he returned to Thames subjects for some etchings, knowing that his earlier studies of the areas along the river’s banks had sold so well.

In “Hurlingham” the strong emphasis on the sailboats is somewhat unusual for the Thames etchings of the late 1870’s. In retrospect, this focus sets the stage for some of the Venetian subjects that followed soon after in the same year. Also seen here is a particularly lovely landscape, evocative of wind rustling through trees and grasses. To some extent, the rather scratchy line in this etching is reminiscent of landscape elements in Whistler’s etchings of two decades earlier.