Joseph Pennell

Original Prints: Lithographs, Etchings and Aquatints


A prolific and highly acclaimed American printmaker who spent much of his life abroad, Joseph Pennell (1860 - 1926) produced more than 600 lithographs and etchings, and won a gold medal at the 1900 World's Fair.

He was furthermore a close friend of Whistler's, with whom he shared a forceful vision of the role of modern art and a good part of their technical expertise.  It is no surprise that Whistler asked Pennell personally to write his biography!

His majestic compositions find their greatest expression in urban landscapes that vibrate with an industrial aesthetic, such as the famous War Work series shown here, the colossal scale and fantastic atmosphere of which hark back to Piranese's Carceri.

Joseph Pennell, Charing Cross at Night, aquatint

Charing Cross at Night

Wuerth Appendix 1896 p. 297

aquatint (with drypoint?), 1896, one of only a few impressions, signed by the artist, verso

Inspired by Whistler's well-known series of Nocturne etchings, Pennell spectacularly captures the luminous dome of Charing Cross Station and its imposing bridge overlooking the Thames.


Joseph Pennell, Within the Furnaces, lithograph

Within the Furnaces

Wuerth 422

lithograph, 1916, one of fifty impressions, signed by the artist

Inspired by the awesome power of the foundry, Pennell captures the seething tumult of heat and smoke in this masterful series of large-format lithographs.



Joseph Pennell, The Great Hammer, lithograph

The Great Hammer

Wuerth 423

lithograph, 1916, one of fifty impressions, signed by the artist

Pounding out slabs of steel, this gigantic machine is staged like an ominous idol, towering over the labourers in a monstrous sprawl.



The Acolytes preparing the Altar of the War God

Wuerth 435

lithograph, 1916, one of fifty impressions, signed by the artist

The title that Pennell gave this print refers to his belief that science was replacing religion in modern life, and that the role of art was to render it with as much grandeur: "great work is great art".

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