"Longshoremen" is an etching and drypoint from 1859 by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). A rare impression of the third state of four, annotated with the pencil "butterfly" signature and "imp", indicating that Whistler printed this impression. The antique-white laid paper measures 8 x 13-1/8 inches. References for this work include Glasgow 52 and Kennedy 45 and over forty impressions have been recorded.
Whistler made over thirty etchings in 1859 and "Longshoremen" most likely depicts an inn or public house in the Rotherhithe or Wapping area, where Whistler was working on "The Thames Set" of etchings.
James Abbott McNeill Whistler, painter and printmaker, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1834. When he was nine years old, his family moved to Russia and where he received his first drawing lessons at the St. Petersburg Academy in 1845. After the death of his father in 1849, the family returned to America.
In 1851 Whistler entered West Point, the U.S. Military Academy, but his nature was antithetical to military training. Demerits accumulated to such an extent that after three years Robert E. Lee signed his expulsion paper. Whistler left for Paris where he worked in the studio of Charles Sleyre in 1856. He was introduced to Fantin-Latour and Courbet, and in time counted Manet, Monet, and Degas among his friends.
On his rejection by the Salon in 1859, Whistler left Paris for London and that same year he began a series of 16 etchings, known as "The Thames Set." In 1860, he produced his first nocturne and, in the 1870s, he increasingly turned to painting portraits. Whistler sued leading art critic Ruskin for libel in 1878, and despite winning a moral victory, was driven into bankruptcy. In 1890 Whistler published his book "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies."
The art of James A. M. Whistler is world renown and his revolutionary approaches to etching and painting have influenced generations of artists.