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The Rialto

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 199
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 298 x 203 mm
Signed: butterfly at left (3)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 36
Catalogues: K.211; M.208; W.181
Impressions taken from this plate  (36)


The plate was executed in etching, and the only drypoint lines appear in the final state with the addition of the butterfly signature.


Impressions of the first state are in black ink, for instance on ivory laid () and on light-weight ivory 'antique' (pre-1800) laid paper ().
The Rialto was published with A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the 'Second Venice Set') in 1886. When Whistler sold the plate to Messrs Dowdeswell and Alphonse Wyatt Thibaudeau (ca 1840- d.1892), it was suggested that Émile Frédéric Salmon (1840-1913) would print the sets. Salmon printed a good, clear impression of The Rialto in black ink on cream paper ().
However, Whistler then decided to print the whole edition. The record of impressions for this edition lists two delivered to Messrs Dowdeswell on 2 April, nineteen on 22 July, one on 20 August, and twenty-five on 6 October 1886, making a total of 47. 7

7: Whistler to W. Dowdeswell, GUW #08717.

Impressions of the second state are in black ink on cream Asian paper (), on laid paper with the Strasbourg Lily watermark (); 'WW' countermark (, , ); and the watermark of a posthorn in a shield (, ). Several impressions are in dark brown ink, on medium-weight buff laid paper (); on cream laid paper with the watermark of a shield and 'W' (); and on a pinkish ivory Asian laid paper ().
The final state was printed in black ink on a dark ivory, almost buff, Asian laid paper (), and dark brown ink on buff laid paper with a fine, canvas like texture (). Cancelled impressions were printed in dark brown ink on medium-weight ivory laid paper () and in black ink on ivory laid paper ().