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Sets and Series

The 'Second Venice Set'

Whistler's second exhibition of Venice etchings was held at the Fine Art Society in London in 1883. 1 It included the etchings that would form part of the 'Second Venice Set'. However the final selection and publication took place in 1886.

1: Mr Whistler's Etchings, The Fine Art Society, London, 1883.

24 etchings in the set as published showed Venetian scenes: Doorway and Vine [191], San Biagio [237], Bead Stringers [235], Turkeys [236], Fruit Stall [225], San Giorgio [214], Nocturne: Palaces [200], Long Lagoon [215], The Bridge, Santa Marta [201], Upright Venice [232], Riva, No. 2 [230], The Balcony [202], The Fishing Boat [198], Ponte Piovan [220], The Garden [194], The Rialto [199], Long Venice [211], Nocturne: Furnace [208], Quiet Canal [224], Salute Dawn [207] and Lagoon - Noon [209].
Impression: K1960602
Doorway and Vine [191]
Impression: K1970802
San Biagio [237]
Impression: K1980804
Bead Stringers [235]
Impression: K1990203
Turkeys [236]
Impression: K2000602
Fruit Stall [225]
Impression: K2010402
San Giorgio [214]
Impression: K2020703
Nocturne: Palaces [200]
Impression: K2030204
Long Lagoon [215]
Impression: K2040803
The Bridge, Santa Marta [201]
Impression: K2050204
Upright Venice [232]
Impression: K2060103
Riva, No. 2 [230]
Impression: K2070502
The Balcony [202]
Impression: K2080404
The Fishing Boat [198]
Impression: K2080404
Ponte Piovan [220]
Impression: K2100803
The Garden [194]
Impression: K2110202
The Rialto [199]
Impression: K2120402
Long Venice [211]
Impression: K2130403
Nocturne: Furnace [208]
Impression: K2140503
Quiet Canal [224]
Impression: K2150406
Salute Dawn [207]
Impression: K2160306
Lagoon - Noon [209]
Four etchings in the published set showed London subjects - Wheelwright [240], The Temple [245], Little Court [244] and Drury Lane [243] - and one - Lobster Pots - Selsea Bill [241] - showed a beach scene:
Impression: K2330503
Wheelwright [240]
Impression: K2340105
The Temple [245]
Impression: K2350102
Lobster Pots - Selsea Bill [241]
Impression: K2360105
Little Court [244]
Impression: K2370103
Drury Lane [243]

Publishing the 'Second Venice Set'.

Messrs Dowdeswell and Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892) published A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') in 1886.
The set comprised Doorway and Vine, San Biagio, Bead-Stringers, Turkeys, Fruit-Stall, San Giorgio, Nocturne: Palaces, Long Lagoon, The Bridge, Upright Venice, The Riva, No.2, The Balcony, Fishing-Boat, Ponte del Piovan, Garden, The Rialto, Long Venice, Nocturne: Furnace, Quiet Canal, La Salute: Dawn, Lagoon: Noon and The Smithy. Four later subjects were included, three of London and one, Lobster Pots, of Hastings. It was to be a limited edition of thirty sets (plus twelve additional prints of each of fifteen subjects).
An estimated 1030 impressions were to be printed for £0.4.0 each, a total of £206, and at first Émile Frédéric Salmon (1840-1913) was asked to print a set of these etchings, receiving £16.0.0 for this task. 2 Ernest Stephen Lumsden (1883-1968) acquired a number of these etchings that had been printed by Salmon, and noted:

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

'A few impressions were printed in Paris on a paper chosen by A.W. Thibaudeau which W[histler] liked. There had been some talk of the plates being printed in Paris but before the end of the negotiations with Dowdeswell Whistler decided to print himself ' 3

3: National Gallery of Scotland (Graphic with a link to impression #K2150z01).

In fact Salmon was for a time in London, and Dowdeswell mentioned that 'the entire issue of 35 sets [were] to be delivered before his leaving England'. 4

4: W. Dowdeswell to Whistler, op. cit., GUW #08706.

Nocturne: Furnace [208], printed by Salmon. Nocturne: Furnace [208], printed by Whistler.
However, it appears that after the first set of single impressions printed by Salmon were delivered, Whistler decided he would prefer to take over the printing himself. Whistler delivered in all 1093 prints and was paid £2.10.6 for printing each dozen prints, working out at £0.4.4 1/2d per impression. 5

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

Whistler was assisted by several enthusiastic and semi-professional printers , including Nathaniel Sparks (1880-1956), Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938) and Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942). Numerous receipts and lists record the printing and delivery of impressions. 6

6: Whistler, list, [13 January 1887], GUW #01185, #08717.

The Exhibition and the Catalogue, 1883.

Whistler's second exhibition of Venice etchings was held at the Fine Art Society in London in 1883. 7 It included the etchings that would form part of the 'Second Venice Set'. The catalogue was written by Whistler and incorporated ruthlessly edited short excerpts from earlier reviews. It culminated in a series of quotations from critics, popular culture, and the bible:

7: Mr Whistler's Etchings, The Fine Art Society, London, 1883.

Impression: K2160306
Lagoon - Noon [209]
The final work in the show, Lagoon - Noon [209], illustrated above, was followed by comments that may have been meant to complement this etching, merging with comments relating to Whistler's work in general. The quotations were taken from earlier reviews by Sidney Colvin (1845-1927), Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921) and Henry Quilter (1851-1907), and were punctuated by 'Reflections' by Whistler, signed with a butterfly with long barbed tail:
'"Years ago James Whistler was a person of high promise."—F. Wedmore.
"What the art of Mr. Whistler yields is a tertium quid." Sidney Colvin.
REFLECTION: The quid of sweet and bitter fancy
"As we have hinted, the series does not represent any Venice that we much care to remember; for who wants to remember the degradation of what has been noble, the foulness of what has been fair?" 'Arry in the "Times."
'REFLECTION: The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them because he knoweth not how to go to the City. '
"Disastrous failures."—F. Wedmore.
"Failures that are complete and failures that are partial."—F. Wedmore.
"A publicity rarely bestowed upon failures at all." F. Wedmore, Nineteenth Century. 8

8: Mr Whistler's Etchings, The Fine Art Society, London, 1883 ( 51).

At the end Whistler quoted a verse from Offenbach's opera-bouffe, La Grande Duchesse de Gérolstein:
"Voilà ce que l'on dit de moi
Dans la Gazette de Hollande."
This refers to a passage in the well-known and popular opera where Prince Paul complains:
'Mon dieu, oui… on ose parler de moi… il a paru depuis quelque temps une race d’hommes qui s’est donné pour mission de parler de tout, d’écrire sur tout, afin d’amuser le public… on les appelle des gazetiers… ils osent entrer dans la vie privée, ce qui est monstrueux, et ce qui est plus monstrueux encore, c’est qu’ils osent entrer dans ma vie privée, à moi!'
Whistler assumed that his audience would recognise such references, and concluded with a biblical passage, from the Prophet Isaiah:
'Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us. We wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.
We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes; we stumble at noonday as in the night.
We roar all like bears.'
Whistler was well versed in the King James Bible, from which the last, incomplete sentence, is quoted; the biblical verse reads in full: 'We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.' 9

9: Isaiah 59:9-11.

Long Venice [211], cancelled. The Balcony [202], cancelled. Nocturne: Palaces [200], cancelled. San Giorgio [214], cancelled.

Copper Plates

When the edition of each etching was completed, the copper plates were cancelled with crossed diagonal lines. An impression was usually taken from the cancelled plate (examples are reproduced above). The plates were delivered to Messrs Dowdeswell as follows:The Rialto [199] and Little Court [244], 6 October 1886; Ponte Piovan [220], Lagoon - Noon [209] and Lobster Pots - Selsea Bill [241], 21 October 1886; The Fishing Boat [198], 5 December 1886; Upright Venice [232] and possibly Salute Dawn [207], 15 January 1887; Long Venice [211], 17 January 1887; Nocturne: Palaces [200] and The Bridge, Santa Marta [201], 27 January 1887; Fruit Stall [225], 8 February 1887; Nocturne: Furnace [208], 26 February 1887; The Balcony [202] and The Garden [194], 16 July 1887. 10

10: Receipts and lists, GUW #08718, #00879, #00880, #00881, #00884, #08659, #08660, #08662, #13021, #08664, #13022, #08665, #13023, #08669, #08668, #08722, #13653.


Announcements in the press prepared the way for publication. F.G. Stephens reported in The Athenaeum:
'Messrs Dowdeswells, we hear, are about to issue in very limited numbers, a set of etchings by Mr. Whistler, which the true student of etching will find to be of the highest interest. Some of them have been seen before, but only rarely, and in one or two places; they have never been properly published. The set is wrought in the freer manner of the artist, and convey the charm of that artist - a charm , we may add, with which the peculiar quality of the earlier manner - that of 1858 and 1859, say - is, in a measure - incompatible. Venetian subjects count as the most numerous in the now-to-be published set - but there are at least one or two, and perhaps more, themes suggested not by the fantastic beauty of the city of the Adriatic, but by the daily sights of London.' 11

11: The Athenaeum, 1 May 1886, p. 316.



  • Mr Whistler's Etchings, The Fine Art Society, London, 1883
  • 50 Etchings and Drypoints (Venice Second Series), H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1883
  • World's Columbian Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1893
  • Exhibition of Etchings, Drypoints. and Lithographs by Whistler, H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1898
  • An Exhibition of Etchings and Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler, The Caxton Club, 1900
  • International Exhibition, Glasgow Art Galleries, Glasgow, 1901
  • Art and Industrial Exhibition, Wolverhampton, 1902
  • Exhibition of Etchings and Dry Points by Mr. Whistler, Frederick Keppel and Co., New York, 1902.
  • Exhibition of Etchings by James McNeill Whistler, Obach and Co., London, 1903
  • A Collection of Etchings and Dry Points by Whistler recently acquired, H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1903
  • Oil Paintings, Water Colors, Pastels and Drawings: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of Mr. J. McNeill Whistler, Copley Society, Copley Hall, Boston, February 1904
  • Etchings and Dry-Points by James McNeill Whistler, The Grolier Club, New York, 1904
  • Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905
  • Oeuvres de James McNeill Whistler, Palais de l'École des Beaux-Art, Paris, 1905


GUL PC: Whistler's press-cutting books, Special Collections, Glasgow University Library.
  • UK, 1883:
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Exhibition', Standard, London, 17 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/22).
  • Anon., [H.Ward], 'Mr. Whistler's Etchings, The Times, 17 February 1883, p. 5.
  • Anon., Sunday Times, 18 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/22).
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', Globe, 19 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/19).
  • Anon., "Mr Whistler's 'Latest Arrangement'", Pall Mall Gazette, no. 5607, vol. 37, 19 February 1883, p. 4.
  • Anon., 'Mr. Whistler's Etchings', The Daily News, 20 February 1883 (GUL PC6/21).
  • Anon., Bird o' Freedom, 20 February 1883 (GUL PC6/42).
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', Daily News, 20 February 1883 (GUL PC25/20).
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', Globe, 20 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/19).
  • Anon., Manchester Guardian, 20 February 1883, p. 5.
  • Anon., St James Gazette, 20 February 1883 (GUL PC25/30)
  • Anon., (probably 'Atlas', Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894)), 'Caviare to the Critics', The World, no. 451, vol. 18, 21 February 1883, p. 9.
  • Anon., Sussex Daily News, 21 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/33).
  • Anon., Liverpool Mercury, 21 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/33).
  • Anon., 'Mr. Whistler', Whitehall Review, 22 February 1883 (GUL PC25/35).
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', Building News, 23 February 1883 (GUL PC6/42).
  • Anon., Catholic Times, 23 February 1883 (GUL PC6/42).
  • Anon., Coventry Standard, 23 February 1883 (GUL PC6/42).
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Exhibition', Saturday Review, 24 February 1883, vol. 55, pp. 241-242 (GUL PC 25/32).
  • Anon., 'Fine Art', Illustrated London News, 24 February 1883.
  • F.Wedmore, 'Mr.Whistler's Exhibition', Academy, 24 February 1883, no. 564, vol. 23, pp.139-40.
  • Anon., 'Mr. Whistler's Latest "Arrangement", Advertiser, 24 February 1883; same text as Aston Standard (GUL PC6/41).
  • Anon., 'Mr. Whistler's Latest "Arrangement", Ashton Standard, 24 February 1883; same text as Advertiser (GUL PC6/41).
  • [F.G. Stephens], The Athenaeum, 24 February 1883, p. 256 (GUL PC25/25).
  • Anon., Country Gentleman, 24 February 1883. (GUL PC6/43).
  • Anon., 'Art Gossip', Lady's Pictorial, 24 February 1883.
  • Anon., London Figaro, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC6/43).
  • Anon., 'The Studio. An Arrangement in White and Yellow', The Queen, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/24).
  • Anon., Rochdale Observer, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC6/41).
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Exhibition', Saturday Review, London, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC 25/32).
  • 'Mahlstick' [H.W.Sweny], 'An Arrangement in White and Yellow', Society, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC6/49).
  • Anon., South Durham Herald, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC6/41).
  • Anon., ('Celia'), 'Causerie', unidentified, [24/26 February 1883] (GUL PC6/41).
  • Anon., unidentified 'Journal', 24 February 1883: same text as South Durham Herald (GUL PC6/41).
  • Anon., Weekly Register, 24 February 1883 (GUL PC6/41).
  • Anon., 'The Fine Art Society, New Bond Street', [unidentified 'Daily'], 24 February 1883 (GUL PC6/42).
  • Anon., North London Advertiser, 25 February/ 3 March1883 (GUL PC6/44 ).
  • 'H.W.S.' [H.W. Sweny], 'Venice and Whistler', People, 25 February 1883 (GUL PC6/44).
  • Anon., 'The Fine Art Society, New Bond Street', Daily Chronicle, 26 February 1883 (GUL PC6/43).
  • Anon., 'Fine Art. Mr. Whistler's Exhibition,' Bazaar, 28 February 1883 (GUL PC6/44).
  • Anon., 'An Arrangement in White and Yellow', [February 1883], unidentified press-cutting, GUL PC25/26.
  • Anon., 'Mr. Whistler', unidentified, [February/March 1883], (GUL PC3/44).
  • Anon., 'Mr. Whistler at the Fine Art Society's Gallery', Artist, 1 March 1883, vol.4, pp. 69-70 (GUL PC6/45).
  • Anon., 'Art Jottings', The Times, London, 1 March 1883 (GUL PC6/46).
  • Anon., Unidentified, 1 March 1883 (GUL PC6/45 ).
  • Anon., Western Morning News, 1 March 1883 (GUL PC6/41).
  • Anon. ('X'), 'Mr. Whistler's Fiasco', Echo, 2 March 1883 (GUL PC6/46
  • Anon., Knowledge, III, 2 March 1883, p. 125.
  • Anon., 'Our Ladies Column', Advertiser, 3 March 1883; same copy as Nottingham Advertiser (GUL PC6/47) and Herts Advertiser (GUL PC6/46).
  • Anon., Country Gentleman, 3 March 1883 (GUL PC6/47).
  • Anon., Lady's Pictorial, 3 March 1883 (GUL PC6/44).
  • Anon., London Figaro, 3 March 1883 (GUL PC6/47).
  • Anon., 'Still More Armies,' Moonshine, 3 March 1883 (GUL PC6/45).
  • Anon., (A Lady), 'Lady's Column', Nottingham Advertiser, 3 March 1883; same copy as Advertiser (GUL PC6/45).
  • Anon., 'Whistler in Venice: A Gavotte in Gamboge', Punch, vol. 84, 3 March 1883, p.107 (GUL PC6/48).
  • Anon., Western Morning News, 3 March 1883 (GUL PC6/47).
  • Anon., Architect, 10 March 1883 (GUL PC6/48).
  • Anon., Funny Folks, 10 March 1883 (GUL PC6/48).
  • Anon., 'Art, High and Low' ('From the Weekly Courier'), Unidentified, 13 March 1883; same copy as Nottingham Advertiser (GUL PC6/50).
  • Anon., Whitehall Review, 14 March 1883 (GUL PC6/50).
  • Anon., Unidentified, [13/14 March1883 ?] (GUL PC6/51).
  • Anon., 'Notes from a Whistler ', Punch, 24 March 1883, vol. 84, p. 133
  • John Forbes-Robertson, 'Mr. Whistler, His Arrangement in White and Yellow, His Etchings and His Catalogue', Pictorial World, 31 March 1883 (GUL PC 8/8).
  • Anon., 'Mr. Whistler's Etchings', Paper and Printing, March 1883 (GUL PC6/48).
  • Anon., Magazine of Art, 1 April 1883 (GUL PC6/1).
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistlers Etchings', Knowledge, 6 April 1883, no. 75, vol. 3, pp. 208-209.
  • Anon., Mr. Whistler 's New Series of Etchings', Academy, XXXI, no. 782, 30 April 1887, pp. 313-4.
  • USA, October-November 1883:
  • Anon., 'Art Babble', New York Daily News, 4 October 1883 (GUL PC3/75).
  • Anon., 'Whistler's Etchings and Drypoints', New York Evening Telegram, 11 October 1883 (GUL PC4/10).
  • Anon., 'Whistler's Queer Conceits. A Novel Arrangement in White and yellow', New York World, 11 October 1883 (GUL PC3/59 and (GUL PC4/12).
  • Anon., 'Whistler's Arrangement'. Etchings on Exhibition in New York in a "Yellow-and-White" Setting', Boston Evening Transcript, 12 October 1883 (GUL PC4/16).
  • Unidentified, News, Chicago, 20 October 1889 (GUL PC11/17).
  • Anon., 'The Whistler Exhibition', New York Mail and Express, 24 October 1883 (GUL PC3/61, PC4/12).
  • Anon., 'Something about the artist Whistler', The Daily News, New York, 15 November 1883 (GUL PC3/59, PC4/12).
  • Anon., 'The Fine Arts. An Exhibition of Mr.Whistler's Etchings.', The Critic, 26 November 1883 (GUL PC4/14).
  • UK, 1886-1887
  • Anon., The Academy, 1 May 1886, p. 316.
  • Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Etchings', The Standard, London, 3 March 1887 (GUL PC7/18-19).


  • Bell, Lynne, Fact and Fiction: James McNeill Whistler's Critical Reputation in England, 1880-1892, Norwich, University of East Anglia, 1987.
  • Denker, E., Whistler and his Circle in Venice, Merrell, 2003.
  • Getscher, Robert Harold, Whistler and Venice, Ph.D. dissertation, Case Western University, Cleveland, 1970.
  • Getscher, Robert H., and Paul G. Marks, James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Two Annotated Bibliographies, New York and London, 1986.
  • Grieve, Alastair, Whistler's Venice, New Haven and London, 2000.
  • Kennedy, Edward G., The Etched Work of Whistler, New York, 1910 (cat. nos. 196-216, 233-237).
  • Lochnan, Katharine A., The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1984, chap. 4.
  • MacDonald, Margaret F., Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice, Aldershot and California, 2001.
  • Mansfield, Howard, A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings and Dry-Points of James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Chicago, 1909 (cat. nos. 194-213, 230-234).
  • Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, II.
  • Whistler, James McNeill, [Letter to Atlas], The World: A Journal For Men and Women, no. 339, vol. 13, 29 December 1880, p. 12.
  • Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London, 1890.