Black Lion Wharf


James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Black Lion Wharf, etching, 1859 [signed and dated in the plate lower right]. Reference: Kennedy 42, third state (of 3). One of the 16 etchings of the Thames Set. Printed in black on thin antique cream laid paper. In very good condition, with full margins, 5 7/8 x 8 7/8, the sheet 8 7/8 x 14 inches, archival

Provenance: Ex Collection S. William Pelletier, with his stamp, initials and date of purchase (1990) verso (not in Lugt). Dr. Pelletier was renowned for his collection of old master prints including Rembrandt, Van Ostade, and Meryon, and for collecting fine examples of other artists such as Muirhead Bone and James Whistler.

Kennedy Galleries, with their stock number a66332 verso.

Frederick Keppel, with their labels attached to the mat verso.

An extraordinarily rich, atmospheric impression.

Black Lion Wharf is one of Whistler’s best known portraits of the London waterfront (and seemingly a favorite of Whistler as well, since it appears on the wall of his famed painting of his Mother in the Louvre).

The patterns and details of the buildings along the shoreline were surely influenced by Meryon’s depictions of Paris, made only a few years earlier – they presage Whistler’s focus on storefronts and facades as a compositional vehicle. Simultaneously, the sketchy lines of the figures and boats in the foreground signals his interest in impressionism, in breaking away from rigid adherence to conventional rendering of details.