The Pool by James Abbot McNeill Whistler (1834–1903). 1859. Etching and drypoint, printed in black ink on paper with watermark Strasbourg Lily, 5 x 7 7/8 inches (12.5 x 19.8 cm); inscribed in another hand ‘The Pool W.37 Trial proof before drypoint sky’, an impression in the third state (of six), before publication in A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames and Other Subjects, (the Thames Set) published by Ellis & Green in 1871. Source: Whistler on the Thames. [Click on image to enlarge it.]

Commentary by Gordon Cooke

A man sits in a rowing boat in the foreground, looking at the viewer. Behind him loaded barges float on the river and buildings on the shore form a frieze across the subject leading to the masts of moored ships above them and a tower at the extreme left end. The Pool of London is the stretch of the Thames between London Bridge and Rotherhithe and is the furthest up-river navigable to large ships.

The Pool was first exhibited in The Works of James Whistler – Etchings and Dry Points at E. Thomas’s print shop, 39 Old Bond Street in 1861, then at the Paris Salon de Refusés (2757) and at the Royal Academy of Arts (1003) in 1863. F. G. Stephens praised it in his review published in Athenaeum, but bemoaned the fact that it was ‘skied’ in the ‘dismal Octagon Room’. The subject was published in the Thames Set in 1871 (no.7). The plate was sold by F. Keppel & Co. to Charles Lang Freer in 1896 and is now in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art.

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Kennedy, Edward G. The Etched Work of Whistler. New York: 1910. no.43

MacDonald, Margaret F. Grischka Petri, Meg Hausberg, and Joanna Meacock. James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings, a catalogue raisonné. University of Glasgow, 2011. Web.

Whistler on the Thames. London: The Fine Art Society, 2013. No. 2; pp. 18-19.

drawings by Whistler

Last modified 22 May 2014