San Giorgio

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 214
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 211 x 308 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left (5)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 38
Catalogues: K.201; M.198; W.167
Impressions taken from this plate  (38)


San Giorgio was published by Messrs Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau with A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') in 1886.

Dowdeswell's paid £2.10.6 per dozen prints. Whistler delivered in all 1093 prints for the 'Second Venice Set'. 11

11: Dowdeswell to Whistler, 16 July 1887, GUW #00891.


It was first exhibited by the Fine Art Society in 1883 and in the reprise of the same show by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in the same year. In the F.A.S. catalogue entry, Whistler provocatively twinned it with a short excerpt from an earlier review by Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921): 'An artist of incomplete performance.' 12 Presumably Whistler thought the etching showed a complete performance, but it was a risky strategy; the Saturday Review commented: 'we can but endorse the quoted criticism.' 13 Similarly, other critics were not completely convinced. The Building News commented: '"San Giorgio" is a scene in which there are only a few scratches to represent vessels, but there are tone and gradation.' 14

Print dealers exhibiting it, usually with other impressions from the 'Second Venice Set', included H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1883, 1898, and (twice) 1903, Obach & Co. in London in 1903 and Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. in New York in 1902 and 1904. 15

Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent his impression to the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1902 and the Whistler Memorial Exhibition organised by the Copley Society in Boston in 1904. 16 An impression was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) to the show organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010402). 17 One was included in a large group of etchings lent by James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) to the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1901 and another was shown in an international show in Wolverhampton in 1902. 18

Impressions were shown, after Whistler's death, at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and the Memorial show in Paris in 1905. Finally, one was lent by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905. 19

12: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 10).

13: Anon., 'Mr. Whistler's Exhibition', Saturday Review, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/32).

14: Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', Building News, 23 February 1883 (GUL PC6/42).


16: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2249 (1664)); Philadelphia 1902 (cat. no. 947 (167)); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 132).

17: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 147).

18: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 238).

19: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 167).


Otto Henry Bacher (1856-1909) owned an impression, probably acquired from Whistler in Venice (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010205); this was later bought, in 1904, by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919).
Back in London, Whistler sold an impression on 28 August 1882 to the London print dealer, Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) for £5.5.0. 20 He sold another on 23 June 1884 to the Fine Art Society for £6.6.0. 21

From 1886 most impressions were sold by Messrs Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau with the 'Second Venice Set'. Dowdeswell's gave a set including an impression of San Giorgio to the British Museum in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010405) . Thibaudeau sold a set for £52.10.0 through Gustave Lauser (b. ca 1841) to H. Wunderlich & Co. in May 1888, and it was bought by Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) in 1890 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010407). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought one from F. Keppel & Co. in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010403) and one from Thomas Way (1837-1915) in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010204).

20: GUW #13643.

21: F.A.S. to JW, 23 June 1884, GUW #01175.

An individual impression sold at auction, at Christie’s, 27 November 1888 (lot 166) was bought by 'McGrath' for £2.2.0 and one from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) sold at Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 262) to Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) for even less, £1.10.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010402). The latter was later bought by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916).
Other early American collectors included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010404); Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010412); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010408); Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010414) and Tracy Dows (1871-1937) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2010z05).