The Venetian Mast

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 219
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 344 x 166 mm
Signed: butterfly at left (6-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'First Venice Set', 1880
No. of States: 12
Known impressions: 57
Catalogues: K.195; M.192; W.160
Impressions taken from this plate  (57)


Twelve states are known before cancellation, which occurred in two stages.

State 1

Impression: K1950203
There is no signature or inscription.
The composition is mostly complete.

State 2

Impression: K1950102
The left forearm and hand of the central woman, wearing a bound kerchief, are removed; the lower body of the standing man at right is mostly removed, along with his outstretched left arm and the shading along the base of the wall behind it; several drypoint lines are added to the back of the man's coat, and v-shaped lines appear to left and right of his legs; a curving scratch extends from the larger window to right of the standing man to the feet of the figure by the mast.
Kennedy mistook the second state of this etching for the first. 6 The lines indicating the shoulder and arm of the boy at left, and the wall behind him, were uninked on the impression he examined, as they are on the example illustrated above. However, those lines are visible under magnification.

6: Kennedy 1910, cat. no. 195 I).

State 3

Impression: K1950302
With touches of additional shading on the figure group at left, notably on both sides of the hat of the boy standing against the wall, on the hair of the woman seated immediately to his right, on the bodice of the next woman to the right, on the arm and dress of the woman furthest to the right, on the box or stool to the right of her, under the seat of the chair of the woman in the foreground and on the end of the cradle in front of her; clusters of pale diagonal lines are added in the sky to the left of the cord attached to the mast.
The impression illustrated is the only known example of this state, and it is creased, torn, stained and foxed. The proof is unsigned and, given its poor condition, may have been discarded by Whistler.

State 4

Impression: K1950z05
The standing man at left has been re-etched and now wears a longer coat and carries a tray or basket; the figure standing by the mast has been redrawn and has clear facial features; many vertical scratches appear on the sky and on the pavement between the seated figure group in the foreground and the figures and trees in the background; very fine shading is added on the left forearm of the rightmost seated woman; there is evidence of burnishing on the lower right corner of the image.

State 5

Impression: K1950z04
Patches of granular foul biting appear on both sides of the image, at the top and bottom of the wall of the leftmost building, over the arm and hip of the boy leaning against the wall, on the back of the cradle in front of the boy and at the bottom of the third-storey window at the right on the rightmost building.

State 6

Impression: K1950503
Signed with a butterfly near the left edge, just below centre.
A group of fine horizontal lines or scratches appears on the sky at upper left, near the top of the image.
The vertical scratches that appeared on the sky and pavement in the fourth state are visible on some impressions of this state and indistinct on others. Kennedy thought the scratches had been removed, but that does not appear to have been the case. 7

7: Kennedy 1910 (cat. no. 195 V).

State 7

Impression: K1950502
Very fine shading is added along the horizon line, among the trees in the distance; curving left to right diagonal scratches (\\\) appear between the peak of the roof at the left edge of the image and the peak of the next building to right.
The fine drypoint shading along the distant horizon, prominent in some impressions (Graphic with a link to impression #K1950512) is barely visible on others, and the scratches at upper left vary in strength.

State 8

Impression: K1950505
A new patch of granular foul biting appears on and to right of the peak of the roof at the left edge of the image; small spots of foul biting or corrosion appear on the sky, most notably at upper left, between the mast and the left edge of the image.

State 9

Impression: K1950z13
Horizontal lines are added to the right side of the cap of the boy leaning against the wall and to the headscarf of the closest seated woman; granular foul biting appears over the figures at left and on the pavement behind them; foul biting around the tall central tree on the distant horizon gives the appearance of new shading.

State 10

Impression: K1950604
The woman wearing a bound kerchief now has hair at her forehead and a knot on the upper back of her kerchief; the outlines of the standing man at right are strengthened, and there is new darker shading on his jacket; the outlines of the figure in front of the mast have been rebitten and strengthened; there are scattered spots of foul biting on the buildings at right.

State 11

Impression: K1950603
Two small patches of fine horizontal drypoint lines are added just above the trees on the distant horizon; pale horizontals are added along the horizon line, mostly among the tree trunks.

State 12

Impression: K1950617
A number of short diagonal and curving drypoint lines are added to the sky above the distant horizon, beginning next to the chimney on the furthest building on the left; the pale horizontal shading along the horizon line now extends to the left, above the silhouetted standing figure and the buildings in the far distance.

State 12 (cancelled a)

Impression: K1950701
Lightly cancelled with an 'X' over the base of the mast.

State 12 (cancelled b)

Impression: K1950702
Further cancelled with a shaded butterfly surrounded by rays at the top and many crossed diagonal lines at the bottom.