Born and trained in Philadelphia, Joseph Pennell set up his first studio in his hometown in 1880. By 1884, he had moved to London, where he became friends with—and fell under the influence of—American ex-patriot James McNeill Whistler. He remained in England for over thirty years, returning to the United States for good only in 1917.
From Cortlandt Street Ferry, which offers a misty morning view of lower Manhattan from a ferry house on the New Jersey shore, was executed during a brief trip to America in 1908. It belongs to a small series of mezzotints in which Pennell appears to employ the medium in an effort to approach the atmosphere of some of Whistler’s Nocturne etchings of the late 1870s and early 1880s.