Monday, June 21, 2010
The above etching with drypoint is a beautiful work by Whistler called Tilbury that he did in 1887. On his later etchings he would cut the border off down to the plate mark except for the tab where his signature, usually a stylized butterfly, appeared. Tilbury is on the north bank of the Thames east of London with Gravesend opposite on the south bank. Whistler lived on or near the Thames for much of his time in London, though in different residences. He plied the river constantly for daily scenes of everyday activity. I love how he manages to convey so much with so few carefully chosen lines.
I'm currently reading his biography by Elizabeth and Joseph Pennell. Though almost a generation younger, both were intimates of his for many years. J. Pennell, himself an illustrator, became a great etcher in his own right; more on him in a future posting. These characters and many more were all part of the etching revival of the 19th century. The ripples of that revival are still felt today and the history and fruit of which remain constant streams of inspiration.