Ponte del Piovan

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 220
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 229 x 154 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 6
Known impressions: 40
Catalogues: K.209; M.206; W.179
Impressions taken from this plate  (40)


balcony, building, bridge, canal, gondola, people.


Small variations in the title are seen in the following examples:

'PONTE DEL PIOVAN / DETTO DEL VOLTO' (1880, Whistler). 1
'Ponte Piovan' (1883, F.A.S.). 2
'Ponte del Piovan' (1886, Whistler). 3
'Ponte Piovan' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 4
'Ponte Piovan' (1890/1891, Whistler). 5
'Ponte del Piovan' . (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 6

Thus 'Ponte del Piovan' is Whistler's original title and is generally accepted.

1: Etched on the copper plate.

2: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 39).

3: List of 'Venice 2nd Series', [1877-1903], GUW #13088.

4: Wedmore 1886 A (cat. no. 179).

5: List, [1890/1891], GUW #13236.

6: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 206).


A bridge of masonry supported by timber-work spans a narrow canal. There are several figures on the bridge, one standing, one leaning and one sitting in the middle, and one leaning on the parapet below a sign on the wall of a low building at right: 'PONTE DEL PIOVAN / DETTO DEL VOLTO'. Behind the bridge, on either side, rise three- and four-storey buildings. Beyond the bridge, the canal appears to split, and on the corner facing the viewer is a large house with an open wooden balcony projecting at left above a low roof. At the base of this building, as seen through the arch of the bridge, is an arcade opening onto the canal, with figures by the wall in front of it. Where the canal curves away to right there is a glimpse of another bridge. There are reflections in the canal.


Comparative image

Ponte del Piovan, 1995.
Photograph©M.F. MacDonald, Whistler Etchings Project.
Ponte del Piovan, Venice, Italy. The bridge has been rebuilt several times, but the view is still remarkably unchanged. The etching was drawn from a gondola, looking north down the Rio de Ca' Widmann to the Ponte del Piovan detto del Volto, with the Palazzo Widmann beyond. This view, drawn accurately on the copper plate, is reversed, as usual, in the print.

The view was popular with artists, partly because a house on the left was said to be where Titian died. Nearby Whistler etched Venetian Court [189] and Gondola under a Bridge [227]. 7

7: MacDonald 2001, pp. 70, 72; Grieve 2000, pp. 88-89.