James Abbott McNeill Whistler
A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames (The Thames Set)
North America, American
10 3/4 in. x 7 3/4 in. (27.31 cm x 19.69 cm)
Medium and Support:
Etching on laid paper
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr., in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Sr.
Thoroughly entrenched in the avant-garde realist aesthetic of Gustave Courbet (French, 1919–1877), Whistler relocated from Paris to London in spring 1859. He soon discovered appropriate subjects along the docks of the Thames River. The artist sought to capture the quotidian activity of stevedores, sailors, and merchants among the ships, wharfs, and warehouses. In the foreground of "Rotherhithe," he depicted two men smoking pipes on the balcony of an inn overlooking the river. The degree of detail in their faces and figures is unusual in Whistler’s print oeuvre, but the influence of Japanese prints on the tall, asymmetrical composition is typical of his work. Whistler included this image among "A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames and Other Subjects" published in 1871.
See "Fleeting Impressions: Prints by James McNeill Whistler," exh. cat. (Montgomery: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 2006), 37.