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Print - The Lime-Burner
  • The Lime-Burner
    Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, born 1834 - died 1903
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The Lime-Burner

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (etched)

  • Date:

    1859 (etched)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, born 1834 - died 1903 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case EE, shelf 1, box D

During his formative years in Paris in the 1850s, Whistler was influenced by the injunctions of the poet and theorist Charles Baudelaire that artists should take subjects from 'modern life' and seek a new beauty in the teeming cities. Whistler's first major suite of prints, his 'French Set' brought critical acclaim but disappointing sales. Seeking more generous patrons, he moved to London in 1859. Initially under the influence of his brother-in-law Francis Seymour Haden, a pioneer of the 'etching revival', he began a series of superbly observed and finely detailed views of the River Thames with its shipping, thriving wharves and picturesque characters. In his 'Thames Set' etchings Whistler often introduced the figures of workmen, boatmen or loungers in the foregrounds. Here, however, the figure - 'W. Jones, Lime-burner of Thames Street' - is made the central element, while the view to the river beyond becomes almost incidental.

Physical description

Etching by James Whistler, ‘The Lime-Burner’ from the Thames Set; etched 1859, early impression. Later impressions from the plate were printed and issued in 1871 as one of the ‘Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames, and Other Subjects,’ by Ellis and Green, 32 King Street, Covent Garden, in editions of one hundred. Signed and dated by the artist in plate. Multi-layered view through a large entrance into the courtyard and premises of a lime-burner, with a glimpse of the River Thames beyond. The focus of the composition is the figure of W. Jones, a lime-burner on Thames Street, who stands against a white wall amid the tools of his trade: ladders, barrels and a seive.

Place of Origin

London (etched)


1859 (etched)


Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, born 1834 - died 1903 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Etching on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Whistler. 1859'
Signed and dated


Height: 250 mm image, Width: 178 mm image, Height: 366 mm sheet, Width: 270 mm sheet

Object history note

W.44, 1st state; K.46, 1st state.

Descriptive line

Etching by James Whistler, 'The Lime-Burner' from the Thames Set; etched 1859.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Wedmore, Frederick. Whistler's Etchings, A Study and a Catalogue. London: Colnaghi & Co, 1899. No.44, 1st state.
Kennedy, Edward G. The Etched Work of Whistler. San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1978. No.46, 1st state.


Paper; Printing ink


Etching (printing process)

Subjects depicted

Interiors; Industrial buildings; Workers; Labour; Industry; Workers; Rivers




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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