The Storm: 2 impressions

Whistler – The Storm (recto)

James Whistler (1834-1903), The Storm, etching and drypoint, 1861. Glasgow 80, Kennedy 81, probably third (cancelled) state (of three). In good condition, on thin bluish gray laid paper, with margins, 6 x 11 inches.

Two interesting impressions, on the recto an inky black impression with much burr; finer than the cancelled impressions ordinarily encountered; on the verso a dryer impression with little burr.

According to Kennedy only 4 impressions are known before cancellation. The plate was cancelled in 1879, bought by the Fine Art Society in an auction at the end of that year (the Whistler bankruptcy auction), and impressions taken for a volume of 57 cancelled etchings published by the Fine Art Society (probably about 20) in early 1880.

The sheet offered appeared and was purchased at Swann auction house 9/22/2011. In the catalogue the prints are described as follows: “The first state (of 2), before additional work in the sky and landscape, on one side; the second state (of 2), as described in Kennedy as the only state, with the composition complete, on the other side.” In contrast to the Swann description we detect no state differences in the two proofs, although clearly one proof is far richer than the other; we conjecture that these are both from the cancelled plate, although the cancellation marks, if present, are subtle. The lighter plate does appear to have printing marks suggesting finger prints (or possibly roulette marks, see detail below); these are not related to the composition, nor do they correspond to the usual scratches in the plate that Whistler used to cancel plates.

The Storm is one of a small group of prints which Whistler made on a camping trip on the Thames
to Maple Durham with the painter Matthew White Ridley in June 1861. They borrowed a boat from Edwin Edwards who lived near the river at Sunbury. Two of them, The Punt and Sketching, were published in Passages from Modern English Poets in 1862, and they depict peaceful scenes on the river. The Storm is a larger and more ambitious work and shows Ridley battling against driving wind and rain.

Whistler – The Storm (verso)



The Storm verso – detail