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Nocturne: Furnace

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 208
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 171 x 233 mm
Signed: butterfly at left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 12
Known impressions: 46
Catalogues: K.213; M.210; W.183
Impressions taken from this plate  (46)


canal, forge, furnace, gondola, nocturne, smith, worker.


There are two main variations on the title, as follows:

'Furnace Nocturne' (1882, Whistler). 1
'Furnace Nocturne' (1883, F.A.S.). 2
'Nocturne Furnace' (1884, Whistler). 3
'The Furnace Nocturne' (1886?, Whistler). 4
'Furnace Nocturne' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 5
'Nocturne: Furnace' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 6

The variations can be interpreted to mean either that there is more than one furnace subject (as there is) and that this is the only 'Nocturne', or, that this is a Nocturne (which it is) and the sub-heading is 'Furnace'. The second version, 'Nocturne: Furnace', as suggested by Mansfield and later cataloguers, has been accepted, as being consistent with other titles such as Nocturne: Palaces 200 and Nocturne: Salute 203.

1: Whistler to T.McLean, 28 August 1882, GUW #13643.

2: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 44).

3: Whistler to F.A.S., 6 March 1884, GUW #13091.

4: List, [1877-1903], GUW #13088.

5: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 183).

6: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 210).


A view across a narrow canal to a square open doorway in a stone wall, drawn parallel to the edges of the copper plate. To left of the door is a lit window, with a face looking out. Below, on the canal, is the prow of a gondola. There are reflections in the canal from the gondola and the lower part of the wall. The doorway opens into a workroom with a furnace at left, throwing a bright glow over the smith standing in front of it, to right. The room has a window at the back, wooden rafters across the ceiling, and possibly another furnace, unlit, or machinery at right.


Venice, Italy. The precise site has not been established.


Prints showing forges, furnaces and smithies are divided between interiors (The Forge 086, The Little Forge, Liverpool 141, Murano - Glass Furnace 205, The Smithy 239) and exterior views (Nocturne: Furnace, The Two Doorways 221, and Flaming Forge 490). Later images of forges include lithographs (The Tyresmith c036, The Master Smith c120, The Blacksmith c127 and The Forge, Passage du Dragon c102), drawings (r.: The Forge; v.: Smiths, Ajaccio m1679) and an oil, The Little Forge, Lyme Regis y442.