Battersea Morn (also Battersea Dawn)


James Whistler (1830-1903), Battersea Morn (also Battersea Dawn),  drypoint, 1875, Kennedy 155, signed in pencil with the butterfly and inscribed “imp”. Kennedy 155, first state (of 4), Glasgow 174, first state (of 5). On laid paper with a Coat of Arms watermark, also signed in the plate with a faint butterfly upper right, with full margins, in good condition apart from a few slight fox marks and light soiling in the margins, a tiny printer’s crease in the right edge, hinge stains and small related creases in the upper corners verso, 5 3/4 x 8 7/8 (sheet 8 x 13) inches, archival mounting.

Provenance: Ex coll. George Mathew Adams (Lugt 59, with his stamp on recto lower right and verso).

Kennedy Galleries (stock no. a 38302)

Knoedler & Co., New York (stock no. MK 17120).

A fine, rare, very early proof impression, printed in a pale sepia ink, before extensive additional line work and shading were added to give the buildings and vessels further definition.  In this state the print is an iconic impressionist image.  This is rather rare; this print was not published but only issued in proofs.

Katherine Lochnan has suggested that when Whistler turned to the Thames in the 1870’s for subjects for printmaking (as he had in earlier years) he was experimenting with the possibilities of printmaking, without having any publication in mind. In Battersea Dawn, according to Lochnan, Whistler “reduced his line to the thinnest, most suggestive ever employed in the history of the medium. The images were drawn with faint, hair like lines, probably using a diamond-tipped needle.” In this delicate impression, Whistler gives the industrial area of Battersea, across the Thames from Chelsea, an atmospheric, impressionistic glow.