The Little Lagoon
|Medium:||etching and drypoint|
|Size:||226 x 152 mm|
|Signed:||butterfly at lower right|
|Set/Publication:||'First Venice Set', 1880|
|No. of States:||4|
|Catalogues:||K.186; M.183; W.152|
|Impressions taken from this plate (58)|
In January 1883 the F.A.S. paid Whistler £105 for the 339 impressions delivered by then (1881-82). 10 Whistler printed 60 impressions of the 'First Venice Set' and other Venice plates at £5.5.0 per dozen. The F.A.S. paid on 9 August 1883. In January 1887 Whistler printed 48 impressions of the 'First Venice Set' at £5.5.0 per dozen. This fulfilled the order of the F.A.S. from 1886. 11 In July 1887 he printed 96 impressions for the 'First Venice Set' at £5.5.0 per dozen. 12
In 1881 The Little Lagoon was exhibited with other etchings from the 'First Venice Set' on both sides of the Atlantic: at the Nationgalerie, Berlin (), and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and, lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), at the Union League Club in New York in 1881 (). 16 It may also have been shown by the New York Etching Club in 1882 as 'A Lagoon, Venice' although that could have been another view of the lagoon. 17
It was shown again at the F.A.S. in 1883 and 1892, and in the reprise of the 1883 show at H. Wunderlich & Co., New York. For the 1883 F.A.S. catalogue entry Whistler quoted a short excerpt from a passage by Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921), 'Well, little new came of it, in etching; nothing new that was beautiful.' 18 Assuming Whistler was emphasizing the contrast between his work and the reviewer's opinion, then this quotation must have been chosen to complement an etching that did show something new in etching, and 'was beautiful' in Whistler's opinion. It was hung in a place of honour at the F.A.S in 1883:
13: London FAS 1880 (cat. no. 8).
14: 'Mr. Whistler's Venice Etchings', Daily News (London), 2 December 1880.
15: 'Mr Whistler's Venice', St James' Gazette, London, 9 December 1880.
18: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 26).
19: 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', Building News, 23 February 1883.
After Whistler's death, impressions were shown in 1904 at the Royal Scottish Academy and in the Whistler Memorial Exhibitions, at the Grolier Club in New York and in the Copley Society Memorial show in Boston, and the following year in Paris and London, in the latter case, lent from the Royal Collection. 22
SALES & COLLECTORS
Whistler also sold an impression - possibly a proof - on 28 February 1882 to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) for £5.5.0. 25 In 1883 Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) sold 'Die kleine Lagune in Venedig' to the Kupferstichkabinett Berlin (). 26
Whistler's signature was a valued commodity, but it was usually written on the tab at the bottom of a trimmed impression and was a little fragile, as is shown by a letter from Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932):
It is not known if Whistler complied!
Two impressions were sold from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lots 237, 238). One was bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) for £2.5.0 and the other by 'Harrington' - probably Henry Nazeby Harrington (1862-1937) - for £1.18.0.
27: 11 January 1889, GUW #07167.
28: Wunderlich's to Whistler, June/August 1897 (net price), GUW #07288; stock no. a 27045.