James A.M. Whistler, Old Westminster Bridge, etching and drypoint, 1859. Estimate: $5,000 to $8,000.When Whistler moved from Paris to London in May 1859, the city became his adopted home for the rest of his life. The scenery along the Thames was a feature in many of his etchings, as he focused on the river more than almost any other subject in his printed oeuvre.
In his Thames views, Whistler tapped into current events, capturing unpretentious, everyday scenes of life along the river. This was a river in flux, the city of London was modernizing both the banks and the crossings of the Thames. England's industrialization at mid-century was growing by leaps and bounds in large part thanks to the shipping access of the Thames. As such, Whistler's images of the river were incredibly current and newsworthy. The wide appeal of Whistler's Thames etchings, and the public approval for two of his major paintings from this time, Wapping (another Thames view), and The White Girl, helped bolster his steady rise to success into the late 1870s.
Labels: 19th-century prints, James A. M. Whistler, Todd Weyman