'Black Lion Wharf' 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'.
One of the few plates Whistler etched in reverse, this image appears the correct way round. A version of this print hung in Whistler’s house at Lindsey Row (later Cheyne Walk), and featured in his famous portrait of his mother.
Whistler conveys the wharf’s filthy conditions by using various textures on the smoke-blackened brick, tiled roofs and crumbling timbers. The ‘selection and omission’ technique championed by Haden was described by Pennell: “Every single line has a meaning…if one were taken away there would be a break in the design…He gives in this plate the impression that he has drawn every brick, every tile, every plank…he has done nothing of the sort, but he makes you think so; and this is the art of concealing art by art”.