The idea for this exhibition grew from the extraordinary etchings Whistler made in the late summer of 1859. The idea of the exhibition arose from him arriving in London, charged with Realist zeal inhaled in Paris, and taking lodgings in a rough, working class district of London. In Wapping he got to know the longshore men, dockers and boatmen, he frequented the cafes and pubs where they ate and drank and made them the stars of his revolutionary etchings. In 1922 Campbell Dodgson wrote, ‘The Thames etchings have been praised so often and so well that it is difficult to find anything new to say about them. One can but endorse and reaffirm what others have said about the keen eye for the picturesque, the masterly and careful drawing, the nice adjustment of the line to every variety of building material in the ramshackle old riverside houses, which made such plates as Thames Police, Black Lion Wharf or Eagle Wharf … unsurpassed and unapproachable in their particular genre.’ Which elegantly and concisely summed up the simplicity of his etchings in this exhibition.