James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), The Lime-Burner, 1859, etching and drypoint, printed in black ink on very thin cream Japan laid tissue with margins, in good condition (remains of prior hinging verso), Kennedy 46, second (final) state; Glasgow 55, second state (of 2), Lochnan 49. With wide margins, 10 x 7, the sheet 14 1/2 x 9 7/8 inches.
Provenance: Edward Clark Crossett (stamp lower left recto, not in Lugt);
by descent to Carolyn Crossett Rowland Charitable Foundation Trust.
A very fine, rich, yet delicately printed impression.
The print was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in 1860 under the title W. Jones, lime-burner, Thames Street. Forming the visual center of an early example of Whistler’s frame-within-a-frame compositions, the figure of Mr. Jones, although small, is nevertheless treated very much like a portrait and the name explicitly given by Whistler in the title for the Royal Academy would confirm this. The lime-burner looks straight out at the viewer while the artist’s complex perspectival devices draw us back into the depth of the image; here a passage opens a small view onto the river and even beyond to the other bank of the Thames.
Published as part of the Thames Set in 1871.
Using an upright format, Whistler shows the Thames from the shore, leading the eye through a succession of timber buildings to a small vignette of the river and the opposite bank, placed just left of centre. The premises of William Jones & Co were at 241 and 242 Wapping High Street, a few doors from the sites of Thames Police and Eagle Wharf. Although this work is widely known as The Lime-Burner, it was initially given the title W. Jones, Lime- burner, Thames Street when it was shown at the Royal Academy of Arts the summer after it was made. This original title shows Whistler as a committed Realist, choosing a subject from modern life and speci cally identifying the working man in the picture.
After its rst showing at the Royal Academy in 1860 (943), it was exhibited in The Works of James Whistler
– Etchings and Dry Points at E. Thomas’s print shop at 39 Old Bond Street in 1861. The subject was published in the Thames Set; no.9. The plate was sold by F. Keppel & Co. to Charles Lang Freer in 1896 and is now in the Freer Gallery of Art.