Long Lagoon

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 215
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 154 x 228 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left (2)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 40
Catalogues: K.203; M.200; W.169
Impressions taken from this plate  (40)


Long Lagoon was published by Messrs Dowdeswell and Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) with A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') in 1886.

Whistler delivered in all 1093 prints and was paid £2.10.6 for printing each dozen prints. 9

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


Long Lagoon was first exhibited at the Fine Art Society in London in 1883, and in the reprise of the show by H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, in the same year. In the F.A.S. exhibition catalogue, designed and written by Whistler, he included quotes chosen from earlier reviews to complement his etchings.

For the Long Lagoon he chose a rather parochial comment from a London newspaper, the Daily News, 'We think that London fogs and the muddy old Thames supply Mr. Whistler's needle with subjects more congenial than do the Venetian palaces and lagoons.' 10 The original quotation - which Whistler did not include in full - continues: 'Our river is naturally full of effects in black and white and bistre. Venetian seas and skies and marbles have colour you cannot suggest with a point and some printer's ink.' 11 Whistler appears to have enjoyed this review and used other excerpts elsewhere in the Venice catalogue; see, for instance The Little Venice [238].

Reviewers of the 1883 F.A.S. show had mixed feelings about the etching. The Queen compared it with the 'very slight' Little Salute [210] and found it 'also slight, but cleverly suggestive.' 12 Saturday Review commented slightly confusingly: 'The "Long Lagoon" is one of several instances that the artist is less happy in dealing with a long wide stretch than with a detached strip or slip of water. The command shown elsewhere of the peculiar effect of water seems here to fail him.' 13

10: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 14).

11: 'Mr Whistler's Venice Etchings', Daily News, 2 December 1880 (GUL Whistler PC 4/14).

12: 'The Studio. An Arrangement in White and Yellow', The Queen, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/24).

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

Print dealer's shows including Long Lagoon include H. Wunderlich & Co. in 1898 and (twice) in 1903; Obach & Co. in London in 1903, F. Keppel & Co., New York in 1902 and 1904. 14

An impression was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) to a show organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030202). 15 James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) lent an impression from his 'Venice Set' to the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1901. 16

After Whistler's death two impressions were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) lent one (which has not been located) to the Memorial Exhibition organised by the Copley Society in Boston in 1904. 17 Others were exhibited at the Memorial Exhibitions in London and Paris in 1905 - King Edward VII lent an impression to the London show (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030102). 18


15: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 149).

16: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 231).

17: New York 1904a (cat. nos. 171, 171b); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 135).

18: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 169).


Whistler sold an impression on 8 August 1882 to the London print dealer, Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832), for £4.4.0. 19 He sold another on 12 September 1882 to Queen Victoria for £5.5.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030102). 20

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 Long Lagoon to the British Museum in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030204). 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 #K2030205). Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought one from Frederick Keppel & Co. in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030104) and another from Obach & Co. in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030103).

19: GUW #12990.

20: GUW #13072.

An impression sold at auction at Christie’s, 27 November 1888 (lot 168) was bought by Obach & Co. for £1.10.0. One was sold at auction from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 264) for £2.0.0. By contrast, the whole set 'Venice, Second Series' 'in a folio', owned by Mrs Edward Fisher of Abbotsbury, Newton Abbot, was sold at Christie’s, 13-14 July 1897 (lot 316) to Colnaghi's for £82.0.0.
Whistler also gave an impression to Elisabeth Lewis (1844-1931), inscribing the original mount 'To Mrs George Lewis' and signed with his butterfly. Mrs Lewis owned an impression Balcony, Amsterdam. The print and mount went to her daughter Katherine, who bequeathed them to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1961. (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030z02). 21

Atherton Curtis (1863-1944) owned a lightly inked first state (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030207) and Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) a more richly inked and sensitively wiped impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030z03). Early American collectors included George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030106, Graphic with a link to impression #K2030107); Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030116); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030206); Margaret Selkirk Watson Parker (1867-1936) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030102); Alfred Atmore Pope (1842-1913) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030212); and Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030202).

21: 'The Venice Sets', Fitzwilliam Museum website, http://www. (accessed 2010).

An impression printed by Émile Frédéric Salmon (1840-1913) was acquired by Ernest Stephen Lumsden (1883-1968), and bought from his widow by the National Galleries of Scotland. Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) inherited an impression from the artist in 1903, which she bequeathed to the Hunterian Art Gallery (Graphic with a link to impression #K2030105).