The Little Pool

James McNeill Whistler, 1861

WAG 1585

About this object

'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.”

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    James McNeill Whistler (American, born:1834-07-10, died:1903-07-17)
  • Date
  • Materials
    Etching; Drypoint; Paper; Ink
  • Measurements
    plate mark: 10.3 cm x 12.7 cm
  • Physical description
    View of a river with barges moored in lines on the left bank and taller ships with masts on the right leaving the central water passage clear. At the far left two male figures in top hats and jackets look down towards the river from the quayside. Warehouses are visible in the distance along the river.
  • Related people
    James Smith (Previous owner) ; James McNeill Whistler (Artist/maker)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 1585; Accession Number: WAG 1585
  • Credit line
    Bequeathed to the Walker Art Galllery by James Smith of Blundellsands in 1923
  • Location
    Sudley House, First Floor, Special Exhibitions Room
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Previous owners

  • James Smith

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: 1923
    Disposal method: Bequeathed to the Walker Art Gallery


Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: WHISTLER 1861
    Inscription method:
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Centre left, on plate
Object view = Fine Art
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