Witsen visited London between October 1888 and January 1891. During this period he made many sketches which he would use later in his career. His experiments with depicting dramatic yet ethereal light in his townscapes were clearly influenced by James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903). He loved to paint monumental architecture, like the Waterloo Bridge and Charing Cross Bridge, as well as urban renewals like Trafalgar Square and the Victoria Embankment. He also made a series of carriages, with modern gaslights at night or in a foggy environment when the smog engulfed the city. Witsen shows modern urban life, crowded and constantly in motion, which stagnates for a moment in the carriages that are waiting for passengers to board. A preliminary study for the present work and an etching with a similar composition is in the collection of the Rijksprentenkabinet, Amsterdam (inv.nr. RPT196420921 and inv.nr. B.61).
We kindly thank Mr. J.F. Heijbroek for his kind help with cataloguing the present lot.