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In 1884, the 28-year-old engineer-turned-art student Frank Short decided to do what J.M.W. Turner had left undone 60 years before, complete the last 12 plates of Turner's great print series, the Liber Studiorum, which only existed in the form of drawings. In the process of turning the drawings into prints, Short mastered the techniques of etching, aquatinting and mezzotinting, which he exemplified in his independent work.
In 1885, one of Short's etchings similar in subject to this nocturnal view of the pier crossing the wet sands of the channel port at Rye, came to the admiring attention of Whistler. The master etcher sought out the young printmaker, and they subsequently happily printed together on Short's press.