The Traghetto, No. 2

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 233
Date: 1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 243 x 307 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left (1-3); replaced with a butterfly further up (4-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'First Venice Set', 1880
No. of States: 9
Known impressions: 60
Catalogues: K.191; M.188; W.156
Impressions taken from this plate  (60)
Etching: PK191_01 (plate)
The copper plate has no maker's mark. It is close in size to the plate for The Dyer [192], and a little bigger than The Garden [194]. It may have been made for Whistler in Venice. 11 It was published in Venice, a Series of Twelve Etchings (the 'First Venice Set') by the Fine Art Society, London, in 1880.
It was cancelled first with two large crosses and then with a stinging butterfly, right across the image, some time between 1889 and 1892.
Frederick Goulding (1842-1909) met Whistler about 1885 and Whistler visited his print workshop :
'He used occasionally to come in to prove a plate and a good many of the Venice plates were defaced in my studio (with the heaviest needles I could find him), and a couple of proofs were taken with the scratches on. I never printed an edition with him ... I think he knew that I was always delighted to give him any help I could; but yet he was careful to bring me a proof, now and again, that he thought I should like. I remember he insisted on the Fine Art Society giving me a proof of one of the Venice plates, because I lacquered the plates when they were defaced. He said: "I have told them they must let you choose a proof, so you must go up and choose one." I did, one of the best proofs of The Traghetto I know!' 12

12: Pennell 1908, vol. 1, p. 283.

The cancelled plate was exhibited by the print dealer Robert Dunthorne (b. ca 1851) in Liverpool in 1893, and was then for sale for £26.5.0. 13

13: Liverpool 1893 (cat. no. 2).

The plate was eventually bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in 1902 and is now in the Freer Gallery of Art. 14

14: Acc. No. 1902.134.