'The Little Pool' was published in 1871 by Messrs Ellis and Green as part of 'Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames and Other Subjects', known more widely as the 'Thames Set'.
'The Little Pool' was made prior to Whistler’s first print exhibition. The main standing figure is Ralph Thomas Sr (1803-62), looking over the shoulder of someone sketching-thought to represent Whistler. A third figure, added during the 4th state, was Thomas’s son, also named Ralph. This was later removed, but the figure’s outline is still visible, sitting on the pier with his back to the River.
Ralph Thomas’s younger son Percy told the Pennells that “ ... much of the printing was done at 39 Old Bond Street, where the family lived in the upper part of the house. A press was in one of the small rooms, and Whistler would come in the evening ... to bite and try his plates. Sometimes he would not get to work until half-past ten or eleven. In those days, he always put his plate in a deep bath of acid, still keeping to the technical methods of the Coast Survey.”