Little Drawbridge, Amsterdam

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 448
Date: 1889
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 178 x 128 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 13
Catalogues: K.412; M.405; W.263
Impressions taken from this plate  (13)


Drawn with slightly uncertain repeated outlines, and irregular patches of shading enhanced with cross-hatching for the reflections, plus very small strokes describing the details of figures, trees, and architecture. The only drypoint appears to be in the sky, particularly on either side of the tower and at the top of the drawbridge. Large granular patches of foul biting at upper and lower right appear in state two, and appear to have been deliberately left, as an alternative to using plate tone, for colour and texture.


The '1st Proof pulled' (according to Whistler) was printed in dark brown ink on ivory laid paper with an illegible watermark, probably from a book (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120102). Two impressions of the first state are recorded but only one has been located.
Most impressions are of the second state. One impression on cream 'antique' (pre-1800) laid watermarked paper is dated '7. Mar. 5.' which probably means that it was one of at least seven Dutch etchings printed on 5 March 1890 (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120210).
Although most impressions of Little Drawbridge, Amsterdam are on laid paper, some impressions are on ivory Japanese (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120202, Graphic with a link to impression #K4120z02), cream Asian laid paper (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120206) and pale cream Japan (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120213). Most are trimmed to the platemark and signed on a tab with the butterfly and 'imp.' to show that Whistler had printed them.
In 1931 an issue of three impressions was printed by Nathaniel Sparks (1880-1956) from the copper plate (which had not then been cancelled) on the instructions of the artist's sister-in-law, Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120203, Graphic with a link to impression #K4120205). 8 They were printed in dark brown ink on ivory laid paper, one sheet having a variant of the Arms of Amsterdam watermark (Graphic with a link to impression #K4120203). An impression by Sparks is reproduced below. The printer's signature, 'Nathaniel Sparks / Imp.' was written on the verso, so that there could be no confusion between those printed by Whistler and Sparks.

8: Martin Hopkinson, 'Nathaniel Sparks's Printing of Whistler's Etchings', Print Quarterly, 1999, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 340, 348, 352.

Impression: K4120203