Art critic, collector, printmaker, and surgeon, Francis Seymour Haden was above all a leading advocate for the etching revival in Great Britain. He founded the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1880, and, like Bracquemond in France, believed in etching as a medium of creative artistic expression. His own work was greatly indebted to Rembrandt, whose prints he knew well: in 1879 he published The Etched Work of Rembrandt.
Here Haden has reworked the plate numerous times, much as Rembrandt often did. Haden was also well acquainted with the many states of Whistler’s working process, as they were brothers-in-law. To determine the state of a print, one consults the catalogue raisonné on the prints of the artist, which has detailed descriptions of every line that has been altered. Changes can be very subtle and a magnifying glass is often needed to discern them. In this print Haden continually reworked various aspects, including the drypoint of the clump of trees at left, which accounts for the dark, velvety nature of this richly inked print.