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Print - Thames Police
  • Thames Police
    Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, born 1834 - died 1903
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Thames Police

  • 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 B

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 acclain 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.

Physical description

Etching by James Whistler, ‘Wapping Wharf’ or ‘Thames Police’ 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. River view: in the foreground, boats drawn up on the shore at low tide, with ships’ masts in the distance at left. A mass of riverside buildings occupies the main of the composition, with the Wapping Wharf and Thames Police buildings at right.

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 by the artist in plate bottom right.


Height: 15.1 cm, Width: 22.4 cm

Object history note

W.42, 1st state; K.44, 2nd state.

Descriptive line

Etching by James Whistler, 'Thames Police' 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.42, 1st state.
Kennedy, Edward G. The Etched Work of Whistler. San Francisco: Alan Wofsy Fine Arts, 1978. No.44, 2nd state.


Paper; Printing ink


Etching (printing process)

Subjects depicted

Wharves; Boats; Rivers; Police; Warehouses




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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