Thursday, November 8, 2012

Whistler's Little Venice

Whistler's deceptively-simple etching Little Venice has remarkable depth. Whispy clouds play over the busy horizon line on which the city of Venice floats. Below this dense horizon, gondolas go about their business and poles stand in the shimmering water conveying a rudimentary perspective. The extreme foreground is not empty but reveals warm inky plate tone wtih stunning effect. This little masterwork was sold at Swann Galleries on September 20 for $9,000.

Sale 2286 Lot 53
Little Venice.

Etching and drypoint printed in dark brownish black on cream laid paper, 1880. 184x264 mm; 7 1/4x10 3/8 inches. MacDonald's second state (of 2), with the scraper marks at the corners removed. Edition of approximately 70, of which approximately 25 were printed during the mid-1880s, such as the current impression, and trimmed to the plate mark with the signature tab. Signed with the butterfly and inscribed "imp" in pencil on the tab, lower left. From Twelve Etchings. A superb impression with selective wiping and with all the fine lines printing clearly.

According to MacDonald, impressions from the later, mid-1880s printings "were printed with a light, carefully wiped surface tone of ink, to augment the color and atmospheric effect of oily stillness of the lagoon." Kennedy 183; MacDonald 238.
Estimate $15,000-20,000
Sold for $9,000


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