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Fish Women, Ostend

Impression: Colby College Museum of Art, Maine
Colby College Museum of Art, Maine
Number: 349
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 96 x 133 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 3
Catalogues: K.349; M.349
Impressions taken from this plate  (3)


For this etching -- with just a few lines of drypoint shading -- Whistler employed firm, jagged lines, dots and dashes, and some very wriggly descriptive lines, to suggest the bustling figures. Small, irregular patches of diagonal shading are used to distinguish some figures, the shadows under the tables and some of the windows.


Only three impressions of Fish Women, Ostend have been located. Impressions were printed with very light surface tone, one in black ink on ivory (now buff) laid paper (), and others in dark brown ink on ivory laid paper () and cream laid paper with the Arms of Amsterdam watermark (). These impressions were all trimmed, with a tab left for the signature and 'imp.' to show that Whistler printed them. Judging by the pencil butterflies (written on the tab at the time of printing or selling), all the impressions were printed within a year, between 1887 and 1888.