The Two Doorways

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 221
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 204 x 296 mm
Signed: butterfly at left (4-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'First Venice Set', 1880
No. of States: 13
Known impressions: 54
Catalogues: K.193; M.190; W.158
Impressions taken from this plate  (54)


It was published as No. 2 'The Two Doorways' in Venice, a Series of Twelve Etchings (the 'First Venice Set') by the Fine Art Society, London, in 1880.


It was shown by the Fine Art Society in London in 1880. The Daily News commented '"The Two Doorways" and "The Palaces" have also much power and originality; but, on the whole, 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.' 14 The journalist considered that London suited a black and white medium while Venice required colour.

14: 'Mr. Whistler's Venice Etchings', Daily News (London), 2 December 1880.

An impression was also included in the Venice Pastels exhibition in 1881, and in a major etchings show in 1883. 15 In the 1883 catalogue, designed and written by Whistler, The Two Doorways was accompanied by an excerpt from an earlier review by Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894): 'It is trying to any sketch without tone to be hung upon a wall as these have been.' 16 This was obviously chosen ironically to complement an etching that showed a wide range of textures, 'tone', light and shadow.

Impressions were shown at other print dealer's shows, by H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1883, 1898 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930202, bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919)) and 1903, by Obach & Co. in London in 1903, and by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) of F. Keppel & Co., New York, in 1904. Dunthorne showed it among etchings and plates exhibited in Liverpool in 1893. 17

Other exhibitions included international shows in Berlin (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930309) and Philadelphia in 1881, the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1892 and the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo in 1901. 18


16: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 28).

17: New York 1898 (cat. no. 137).

18: Berlin 1881 (cat. no. 716).

An impression was selected from his own collection for a special panel of Whistler etchings organised by Howard Mansfield (1849-1938) for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. 19 He lent it again to the 1st Annual Exhibition at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1902, and, after Whistler's death, to the Memorial Exhibition in Boston in 1904. 20

Another impression was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) to the Caxton Club, in Chicago, in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930603). 21 James Cox-Cox (ca 1849- d.1901) lent one from his 'First Venice Set' to an International Exhibition in Glasgow in 1901. 22

Impressions were shown at several Memorial Exhibitions after Whistler's death. Four impressions were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904, two of which were lent by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930202, and either Graphic with a link to impression #K1930303 or Graphic with a link to impression #K1930304). 23 Impressions were also shown in London and Paris in 1905. Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), who had inherited one from Whistler, lent it to one of the Memorial shows, in Rotterdam in 1906 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930604). 24

19: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2233).

20: Philadelphia 1902 (cat. no. 947); Boston 1904 (cat. nos. 125, 126)

21: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 139).

22: Glasgow 1901 (cat. no. 223).

23: New York 1904a (cat. no. 160).

24: London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 158); Rotterdam 1906 (cat. no. 40).


Most impressions were sold by the publishers, the Fine Art Society. In January 1883 the F.A.S. paid Whistler £105.0.0 for the 339 impressions delivered by then (1881-82). On 1 August 1883 Whistler printed 12 impressions of this plate at £5.5.0 per dozen, that is, £0.8.9 per impression. 25 On 7 April 1893 he got £12.12.0 for printing further impressions. 26

In 1882 'Partie eines Kanales in Venedig' was sold by Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) as part of a complete set to the Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930309). 27

Few auction prices are recorded, although at the sale of the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby’s, 3 March 1892 (lot 250) an impression was bought by Edmund F. Deprez (1851-1915) of Deprez & Gutekunst for a good price, £7.15.0.

25: GUW #01153, #01185 (list of printings).

26: GUW #01258.

27: Inventory books, Kupferstichkabinett Berlin.

Whistler himself sold impressions in 1897 to H. Wunderlich & Co. for £6.6.0, and another described as a 'trial' in September of that year for £8.8.0. 28 He sold them another etching, possibly this, but with the title 'Two Doorway’s, Paris' in 1900 and at a price that seems rather high, £10.10.0 - but it may have been a special proof. 29

Francis Seymour Haden, Sr (1818-1910) owned an impression of the second state (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930202), which was sold through H. Wunderlich & Co., New York in 1898 and bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), who had bought an impression of the main edition from Wunderlich's on 15 January 1891 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930303) and was to buy an even earlier proof from Obach & Co. on 11 July 1903 (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930102).

28: Wunderlich's to Whistler, June/August 1897 (net price), GUW #07288; September 1897, #07287.

29: Wunderlich's to Whistler, 6 April 1900, GUW #07322.

From the main edition, good impressions were bought by Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930310), Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930307) and later impressions by John Henry Wrenn (1841-1911) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930615) and, acquired by inheritance from Whistler, by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958) (Graphic with a link to impression #K1930604).