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Little Dordrecht

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 260
Date: 1886
Medium: etching
Size: 95 x 132 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 12
Catalogues: K.243; M.240
Impressions taken from this plate  (12)


It is etched quite deeply, and there is considerable foul biting, producing a strongly textured effect.


Only one of the known impressions of Little Dordrecht was definitely printed by Whistler. It is in a warm black ink on ivory laid paper from an old ledger, trimmed to the plate mark and signed on the tab with the butterfly and 'imp.' to show that Whistler printed it (). Another impression in black on similar paper has a slightly odd butterfly signature and is trimmed irregularly (); it may be an early impression but was not necessarily signed by Whistler.
A third, in black ink on 'antique' (pre-1800) cream laid paper, trimmed to the plate mark, and a fourth on ivory laid ledger paper, not trimmed, are both signed with 'butterflies' that are definitely not by Whistler (, ).
Several others, although on old laid paper, have not been trimmed, and appear to have been printed by another hand. One was sold in 1904, so the impressions may have dated from Whistler's time or shortly afterwards (). Two are printed askew on the sheet (, ). These were almost certainly posthumously printed by Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938), who owned the copper plate. 6

6: J. Pennell, n.d., draft catalogue (cat. no. 246), Library of Congress, Pennell Collection, Box. 353.

One of these late and lop-sided impressions (), printed in black ink on cream laid paper, is very similar indeed in paper and printing to impressions of Barges, Dordrecht () and The Little Wheelwright's () in the same collection (the Library of Congress). These impressions were probably printed at the same time, by Menpes.