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The Steps, Amsterdam

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 452
Date: 1889
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 242 x 166 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 5
Known impressions: 14
Catalogues: K.403; M.402; W.260
Impressions taken from this plate  (14)


This complex composition, with its intricate detail, atmospheric shading and subtle textures, was created mainly in etching, but there may have been some minor touches of drypoint to reinforce shading.


No impression of the first state has been located. An impression of the second state is inscribed '2nd proof pulled' by Whistler () Several other impressions are annotated by Whistler, but it is not clear whether these are records of impressions printed on a particular day, or sorted for sale to a particular client. His notes are written in tiny letters and are sometimes almost illegible. An impression of the third state is annotated '3' but not dated (). However, subsequent impressions appear to have been printed in late February 1890. One impression of the fourth state is numbered '2' and dated 23 February 1890 ().
They were printed in dark brown ink on various papers, including the second state on 'antique' (pre-1800) laid paper () and the third on thin wove tissue, possibly Asian paper (). The main print run was in the fourth state, and included impressions on cream laid paper (), one with an Arms of Amsterdam watermark (); and on ivory laid (), one on a sheet taken from a book (); as well as on thin Asian ivory laid paper (, ).
Two more, both impressions of the final state, are dated 7 March 1890, numbered '2' () and 'no. 3' (). They were the second and third Dutch etchings printed on that day, one on cream Asian paper, thin as tissue () and the other on buff laid paper ().