Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 213
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching
Size: 200 x 293 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 4
Catalogues: K.231; M.228
Impressions taken from this plate  (4)


Venice was not published.


During Whistler's lifetime, an impression was lent by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 where it was described as 'Venice – Undescribed, only five or six impressions printed' (Graphic with a link to impression #K2310106). 2

It was also shown after Whistler's death, at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London in 1905. 3

2: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 316).

3: New York 1904a (cat. no. 202); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 361).


Otto Henry Bacher (1856-1909) told a story about the impression of this etching that he acquired from Whistler. Both artists liked old paper, he explained:
'old Venetian paper which took the ink remarkably well because of its matured, glue sizing ... on passing an old junk-shop, I noticed a bundle of old paper outside. On examining it, I found that it contained old Venetian paper. / ... I purchased the bundle for a franc, ... Whistler ... was quite impressed and immediately wanted all of it. He went upstairs, quickly returning with a proof of one of his rare Venetian etchings. / "Now, Bacher," he said, "I will trade this very rare Whistler proof for your paper. Just look at the proof and see how beautiful it is. There were only six printed from that plate, and some day it will bring you a handsome price." / It was a very beautiful etching, representing Venice and its harbor with many small boats. .../ I said, "All right. I will trade, " and gave him all the paper that was in sight in the room. / ... I kept the etching on my walls for twenty years. Not long ago, I found one of the six originals in the Lenox Building of the New York Public Library. ... I have since sold my copy to a man that loves Whistler's work, and for a sum as large as Whistler anticipated.' 4

4: Otto Henry Bacher (1856-1909), pp. 122-128.

The impression Whistler traded with Bacher was bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) in 1904 (Graphic with a link to impression #K2310102) and bequeathed to the Freer Gallery of Art. Whistler also gave one to Thomas Child, who gave it to Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), who in his turn left it New York Public Library, and this was the second impression mentioned by Bacher (Graphic with a link to impression #K2310106).
Another went to George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909) and passed with his collection to the Baltimore Museum of Art (Graphic with a link to impression #K2310103). A fourth impression also had a distinguished provenance; it was owned by Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935), Howard Mansfield (1849-1938), and John Howard Whittemore (1837-1910), before being purchased with the Julius L. and Anita Zelman Fund for the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (Graphic with a link to impression #K2310104).