James Abbott McNeill Whistler ( American, 1834 - 1903 )
The American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler is generally credited with spurring the Etching Revival, an artistic movement that flourished in Britain and France during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The artists of the Etching Revival sought to renew etching as a form of original artistic expression rather than mere reproduction. Their graphic work not only looked back to the open, painterly style of Rembrandt and his generation but demonstrated a modern sensibility in the choice of subject matter. Beyond a cluster of shallow boats in the foreground, we see the open waters of the Pool, a section of the Thames that served as the main port of London in the 19th century. The dense cluster of ships' masts in the distance at left suggests the scale of commercial activity along this part of the river. The boatman seated at his oars in the foreground is rendered with quick, nervous lines that are meant to suggest Rembrandt's approach to the medium of etching.