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Storytelling in Miniature

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903

A Sketch on the Embankment

Etching, 1878
1 3/4 x 5 3/8 in.
Museum purchase, 1918.7

James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an expatriate American artist who lived most of his life in London, England. An innovator and craftsman who had few peers, Whistler drew no distinction between his work as a printmaker and as a painter. As a printmaker, he was the leading personality among all of the modern etchers, and his name is often linked with Rembrandt’s as artists who fully explored the beauties of the etched line.In this quickly etched print, Whistler puts the viewer at a slight distance behind a group of sightseers as they view the Thames River in London and the industrial vista on the far bank.