The Bridge, Santa Marta

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 201
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 298 x 202 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 9
Known impressions: 47
Catalogues: K.204; M.201; W.171
Impressions taken from this plate  (47)


The Bridge was originally intended for the 'First Venice Set' published by the Fine Art Society in 1880 but then withdrawn, and instead published by Messrs Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau with A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') in 1886.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. 12

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


It was exhibited at the Fine Art Society in London in 1880 with the 'First Venice Set'. A reviewer described it : 'No. 7, "The Bridge", appears to be all plain straightforward etching, the delicate parts being obtained by careful biting.' 13 It was shown again at the F.A.S. in 1883, and in the reprise of that show at H. Wunderlich & Co., New York, in the same year. In the F.A.S. 1883 exhibition catalogue designed and written by Whistler, he included quotes chosen from earlier reviews to complement his etchings. In the catalogue the etching was described as 'The Bridge' and its importance was emphasized by three quotations:

13: 'Mr. Whistler's etchings ...', British Architect, 10 December 1880.

'"These works have been done with a swiftness and dash that precludes anything like care and finish."
"These Etchings of Mr. Whistler's are nothing like so satisfactory as his earlier Chelsea ones; they neither convey the idea of space nor have they the delicacy of handling and treatment which we see in those."
"He looked at Venice never in detail." F. Wedmore.' 14

14: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 17).

In fact the etching attracted criticism in 1883, one reviewer considered that occasionally '[Whistler] seems to have made mistakes. The farther gondola in "The Bridge" is one, and several of the farthest walls appear incumbered with unintelligent work ... two or three of these etchings would be greatly improved by judicious excisions.' 15

Impressions were shown at print dealer's shows, by H. Wunderlich & Co., New York in 1898, and twice in 1903, by F. Keppel & Co., also in New York, in 1902 and 1904, and at Obach & Co. in London in 1903. Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought an impression from the 1898 show (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040804). 16 An impression was shown at a show organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900, lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040802). 17 Others appeared in the International Exhibitions in Glasgow in 1901 - lent by James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) - and Wolverhampton in 1902. 18

Two impressions were also shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, and at the Whistler Memorial Exhibitions, one being lent by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) to the Copley Society exhibition in Boston in 1904 and others lent to the Paris exhibition, and, from the Royal Collection, to the London show (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040702) in 1905. 19

15: Anon., 'Mr. Whistler', Whitehall Review, 22 February 1883 (GUL PC25/35).

16: New York 1898 (cat. no. 150). See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

17: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 151).

18: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 241).

19: New York 1904a (cat. nos.173a, b); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 136); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 171).


In August 1882 Whistler sold single impressions to Wickham Flower (b. ca 1836) for £6.6.0, and to a print dealer, Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) for £5.5.0 and £6.6.0. 20 Whistler also sold one on 12 September 1882 as 'The Bridge S. Marta' to Queen Victoria for £6.6.0 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040702). This was sold in 1906 through H. Wunderlich & Co. to John Henry Wrenn (1841-1911) and forms part of the John H. Wrenn Memorial Collection in the Art Institute of Chicago. 21

Early American collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040105); George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), to whom Whistler dedicated one impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040202) and who also acquired an impression from the published edition (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040805).

20: August 1882, GUW #12989; 8 August 1882, #12990; 28 August 1882, #13643.

21: GUW #13072.

After 1886, most impressions were sold by the publishers. Messrs Dowdeswell and Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) also gave a set to the British Museum in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040806). Sales included an album of the 'Second Venice Set' sold by Thibaudeau to H. Wunderlich & Co. in May 1888, which was bought by Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040808).
British collectors included Bernard Buchanan MacGeorge (1845?-1924) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040602, Graphic with a link to impression #K2040703); and Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040803), the latter bought through Frederick Keppel & Co. by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in 1887. Freer bought an impression from the published edition, also from Haden's collection, through Wunderlich's in 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040804). Other American collectors included Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040802) and Julian Alden Weir (1852-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2040104).
An impression was sold at auction at Christie’s, 27 November 1888 (lot 170) and bought by 'McGrath' for £2.10.0. Another was sold from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 266) and bought by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co. for £5.5.0. A complete set 'in a folio' owned by Mrs Edward Fisher of Abbotsbury, Newton Abbot and sold at auction, Christie’s, 13-14 July 1897 (lot 316) was bought by Colnaghi's for £82.0.0.