Long Venice

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 211
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 128 x 311 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 8
Known impressions: 37
Catalogues: K.212; M.209; W.182
Impressions taken from this plate  (37)


Long Venice 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. 17 When the set was published Dowdeswell's paid Whistler £2.2.0 for each twelve prints. 18

In selecting the 'Second Venice Set', Whistler chose a variety of subjects and formats. Whistler included some prints that matched ones in the first set: Long Venice, for instance, was the equivalent of The Little Venice [238].

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

18: GUW #00891.


It was first exhibited as Long Venice at the Fine Art Society, London in 1883. 19 Whistler's catalogue entry added an excerpt from an earlier review by Henry Quilter (1851-1907):

19: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 42).

'After all, there are certain accepted canons about what constitutes good drawing, good colour, and good painting; and when an artist deliberately sets himself to ignore or violate all of these, it is desirable that his work should not be classed with that of ordinary artists.' 20

Quilter actually wrote this about Whistler's oil portraits, and not about the etchings, but since it was a general attack on the artist's work, Whistler here promoted Long Venice as an example of his precise and expressive draughtsmanship and subtle use of colour, and thus contradicted 'Arry's criticism.

20: 'Arry [H. Quilter], 'The Grosvenor Gallery', The Times, London, 8 May 1882, p. 5, col. a.

However, both Upright Venice [232] and Long Venice were admired for Whistler's draughtsmanship, his 'skill with the point', as the Whitehall Review noted : 'The latter especially, with its play of light and dark, its sunniness, in fact, and the marvellous softness of its delicately executed dome, is a masterpiece of suggestion.' 21 John Forbes-Robertson admired the atmospheric effect conveyed: 'the storm breaking over the city is forcibly suggested', he wrote. 22

Another critic, in 1883, wrote concerning San Biagio [237] and Long Venice: 'the view of the Riva dei Schiavoni from an eminence, which he affectedly calls "Long Venice", are excellent examples. Besides their local truth and wonderful mode of execution, they are remarkable for their perfect balance of light and shade, and broad simplicity of effect.' 23 The only trouble with this flattering remark is that it is more appropriate for The Riva [229]!

Later in the same year an impression of Long Venice went to the reprise of the F.A.S. exhibition by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York, and other impressions starred in Wunderlich shows again in 1898 and 1903, and with Keppel & Co. in New York in 1902. Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) bought one from the Wunderlich 1898 show (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120504). 24

Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) lent his impression to an exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120502). 25 James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) lent one from his large collection to an International Exhibition in Glasgow in 1901. 26

After Whistler's death, impressions were shown in Memorial Exhibitions, at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, by the Copley Society in Boston in 1904, in Paris in 1905, and, lent by King Edward VII, at the Whistler Memorial Show in London in 1905. 27

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

22: 'Mr. Whistler, His Arrangement in White and Yellow, His Etchings and His Catalogue', Pictorial World, 31 March 1883 (GUL PC 8/8).

23: Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', Globe, 19 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/19).

24: New York 1898 (cat. no. 161). See REFERENCES : EXHIBITIONS.

25: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 162).

26: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 237).

27: New York 1904a (cat. no. 184); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 143); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 182).


Whistler sold a few impressions of Long Venice in the early 1880s, before it was published in 1886. For instance he sold 'The long Venice' to the London print dealer Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) in 1882 for £4.4.0, which was at the bottom end of his prices (they went up to £8.8.0 for The Garden [194]). 28 He sold impressions for £5.5.0 each directly to two important patrons, Wickham Flower (b. ca 1836), and Queen Victoria. 29

Some orders were received after Whistler's 1883 exhibitions at the Fine Art Society and at Wunderlich's in New York. These included two orders for Long Venice at the F.A.S., two ordered by Wunderlich's on 20 June and another two on 20 September 1883. 30

Most impressions were sold by Messrs Dowdeswell and Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) after publication of the etching. A fine, delicately wiped impression typical of the published edition was given by Messrs Dowdeswell to the British Museum in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120505). Thibaudeau sold one with a complete set through H. Wunderlich & Co. to Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) in 1890 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120506).

28: 28 August 1882, GUW #13643.

29: August 1882, GUW #12989; 12 September 1882, #13072.

30: F.A.S. to Whistler, 12 June 1883, GUW #01160; Whistler to F.A.S., [20 September 1883], #13009.

Whistler was allowed to sell proofs of new states, a 'printer's perk', and in the summer of 1897 Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) of Wunderlich's bought two impressions from the artist at £7.7.0 each, less 20 percent discount. 31

31: GUW #07289.

Prices at auction were consistently in the low to medium range. In 1888 an impression was bought by 'McGrath' for £3.5.0; then at the sale of the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) in 1892, one was bought by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) for £2.10.0, while the whole set of 26 etchings 'in a folio' originally owned by Mrs Edward Fisher of Abbotsbury, Newton Abbot sold in 1897 to Colnaghi's for £82.0.0. 32

32: Christie’s, 27 November 1888 (lot 181); Sotheby's, 3 March 1892 (lot 277); Christie’s, 13-14 July 1897 (lot 316).

Early collectors included Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120514) and George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120404); Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), who bought one from F. Keppel & Co. in 1887 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120503); Thomas Way (1837-1915), who sold it to Freer in 1905 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120402); Harry Brisbane Dick (1855-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120507); Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120502). One owned by Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120504) which was sold through Wunderlich's to Freer in 1898. One owned by Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934) (Graphic with a link to impression #K2120102) went to the Royal Collection, Windsor, and when that was sold, it went to Scotland and was in 1910 with a Glasgow dealer. 33

33: Morning Post, 4 March 1910 (GUL PC22/127).