This remarkable aquatint
is characteristic of Pennell's experiments over the mid-1890s in certain printmaking
techniques (aquatint, with sandpaper ground, being a medium that
Whistler, for example, never explored!),
rendering the nocturnal urban atmosphere with its dark interplay of light over the Thames.
Our impression was trimmed by the artist close to the platemark*, apparently an affectation that he adopted following Whistler's practice.
There is still the question of
drypoint rework, in another "state": as the AIC "proof" impression
listed below shows multiple horizontal striations in certain parts of
the water, this would be a plausible conjecture, though it is neither
visible in ours or the DAC impression. This is complicated by the
fact that the three impressions identified show a monotyped effect of
selective wiping, which results in varied tonal values of light and
shade, as well as overall contrast. The question remains open...
*As have all of the
impressions that we have been able to locate (signed on the tab, as per
Whistler's practice again, in the DAC impression), or even the AIC
proof, with its various annotations in the narrow lower margin.