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Riva, No. 2

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 230
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 211 x 307 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 44
Catalogues: K.206; M.203; W.175
Impressions taken from this plate  (44)


With the exception of small patches of drypoint shading, which are barely visible on many impressions, the plate was executed in pure etching. Whistler completed the plate in one state but added cancellation lines in five different stages.


Whistler was basically satisfied with Riva, No. 2 in its first state, and an impression was printed for the publishers, Messrs Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau, by Émile Frédéric Salmon (1840-1913) in black ink on buff laid paper, probably a fine Asian paper ().
Whistler then decided to print it himself; he printed it mostly in brown or dark brown ink but sometimes in black ink, on a variety of paper. Some in brown or dark brown ink were printed on Asian laid paper ( , , ), on cream laid paper (), ivory laid with 'IV' countermark - the Strasbourg Lily countermark - ( and ), cream 'antique' (pre-1800) laid (), as well as on thin buff wove paper (). Several impressions were printed in black ink on ivory laid papers, including one with the watermark of a Hunting horn in a shield (), and Strasbourg Lily over 'WR' (), and a 'WW' countermark ().
Undated lists, dating from between March 1886 and 1887, and ones dated 2 April, 28 July, 20 August 1886, record the receipt of single impressions by Messrs Dowdeswell. 12 Two slightly larger deliveries, again undated, are recorded as including two and 24 impressions. 13

However, in an attempt to summarise the situation, the main document records one impression delivered on 22 July, one on 20 August, two on 25 August and fourteen on 15 December 1886 and eight on 5 January 1887, then a single impression for 2 April 1886, and finally twenty on 26 February 1887, a total of 47. 14 The list appears to be out of order, and is presumably a summary of separate receipts.

12: GUW #08684, #08681, #13352 ; dated, #00863, #00869, #00872.

13: GUW #08701, #08701.

14: GUW #08717.

Another undated record gives the number of impressions as 14, 8, '2 mounted', '1 in set', 1 ditto, '1 pd' (meaning printed or paid), and '6 del' (meaning delivered or possibly deleted) making a total of 33; plus another 20, making a grand total of 53. 15

15: GUW #08718.

The plate was cancelled by 8 February 1887 and the final 20 impressions (mentioned above) including one cancelled impression were sent on 26 February. 16

16: GUW #13647, #08668.