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The Garden

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 194
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 307 x 240 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 15
Known impressions: 43
Catalogues: K.210; M.207; W.180
Impressions taken from this plate  (43)


boy, canal, cat, child, gate, garden, steps, tree, woman standing.


There are three minor variations on the title, as follows:

'The Garden' (1881/1886, Whistler). 1
'Garden' (1883, F.A.S.). 2
'Garden' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 3
'Garden Venice' (1890/1891, Whistler). 4
'The Garden' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 5

'The Garden' is the original and generally accepted title.

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

2: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 40).

3: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 180).

4: List, [1890/1891], GUW #13236.

5: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 210).


Steps lead from a canal to an open doorway in a high stone wall, parallel to the edge of the copper plate. A boy sits by the door-frame at left, facing right, with one foot in the water, and another boy is sitting further up the steps to his right, looking at him. The door leads into a garden with bushes, a slender tree, and vines or other climbing plants on the building at the far side of the courtyard. In the doorway of the house stands a woman holding a child, and to her right, another woman bends down to a small table or bench. Above the door is a narrow horizontal window with square grille or panes, and on the first floor, to right, two very tall arched windows behind a balcony, and at left another arched window. For later changes to the composition, see STATES.


Venice, Italy. This is one of the few sites not identified: the presence of a substantial flowering garden is notable.


The door is a gate onto a canal and provides a frame for the glittering tree-filled garden, and light figures in front of a second door. This use of frames parallel to the edge of the plate, the alternation of light and dark, and the bridging motif of a child on the steps, are all typical of Whistler's compositions.