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The Riva

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 229
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 202 x 298 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'First Venice Set', 1880
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 55
Catalogues: K.192; M.189; W.157
Impressions taken from this plate  (55)


The composition was developed mainly in etching, with some drypoint.
Two trial proofs were sold at auction from the collection of the late Joshua Hutchinson Hutchinson (ca 1829 - d.1891) at Sotheby's, London, 3 March 1892 (lots 248, 249), along with an 'original sketch in black chalk, on brown paper' (lot 247) which was bought by Frederick Keppel (1845-1912) for 1.1.0 (r.: Riva, Venice; v.: Heads and hats m0734). 11

11: MacDonald 1995[more] (cat. no. 734r).


Well over fifty impressions of The Riva have been located.
A record of printing of the 'First Venice Set' for the Fine Art Society survives in the form of letters, lists, and invoices. The principle record lists six impressions of The Riva delivered on 16 February, fifteen on 6 April, and seven on 25 August 1881; then a gap followed by one on 9 April and two on 8 August 1883; one on 15 February 1884; four on 29 July 1885; six on 13 January and nine on 25 June 1887; and finally six on 2 April 1889, making a total of 57; the plate was cancelled and a cancelled impression sent to the Fine Art Society by 20 May 1889. 12 .

12: FA.S. to Whistler, 20 December 1888, GUW #01217; E.G. Brown to Whistler, 20 May 1889, #01225.

The first impression is in black (a warm black) ink on a slightly pinkish ivory laid paper (). It is followed by impressions printed in black ink on ivory laid (); on laid paper with a crown watermark (); buff laid (); ivory laid with a hunting horn watermark (); laid with 'FELLOWS 1804' watermark (, ); off-white () and ivory laid (, ); heavy-weight ivory wove (); and ivory 'antique' (pre-1800) laid paper ().
Impressions of the fourth state were printed both in black () and brown ink (, ) on cream laid with the watermark of 'S WISE & CO'. Asian papers used for the third and fourth state included heavy-weight cream Asian wove paper (). It is worth noting that impressions of the fourth state were already being printed in 1881 and are signed with a butterfly that can be dated to that year (i.e. , ).
Many impressions are printed in brown or dark brown ink, mostly on ivory laid paper (i.e. , , , ); but also on other papers including 'antique' laid (, ); ivory 'antique' laid paper with Strasbourg Lily watermark (, ); and cream laid paper with 'IV' watermark (, ). Cancelled impressions were also printed in dark brown ink, on off-white laid (), cream Asian laid () and cream Japanese paper ().