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Whistler etched maps for the U.S. Coast Geodetic Survey before moving to England in 1859. The Storm, with its low horizon and lowering skies, pays homage to Rembrandt's etchings, which were the chief inspiration to Whistler and others who revived etching as an artistic pursuit in the 1850s.
"On one occasion Sir Seymour [Haden] said to me that if he were forced to part with his Rembrandt etchings or with his Whistler's he would find it hard to determine which master's works he must let go. Later on I repeated this saying to Whistler and that modest gentleman calmly remarked: Why Haden should part with his Rembrandt's of course."
-Frederick Keppel, 1911