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The Piazzetta

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 218
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 257 x 182 mm
Signed: two butterflies at lower left (1); replaced with new butterfly (2-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'First Venice Set', 1880
No. of States: 9
Known impressions: 51
Catalogues: K.189; M.186; W.155
Impressions taken from this plate  (51)


bird, cathedral, café, children, clocktower, hat, man seated, people, pigeons, Renaissance, square, streetscape.


There is one title but two different spellings, as for example:

'The Piazzetta' (1880, F.A.S.) 1
Possibly 'St Mark's Place, Venice' (1882, New York Etching Club). 2
'The Piazetta' (1883, F.A.S.). 3
'The Piazetta' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 4
'The Piazzetta' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 5

The original title, which was spelled accurately, is The Piazzetta, and this remained the same in most subsequent catalogues.

1: Venice, a Series of Twelve Etchings.

2: .

3: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 45).

4: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 155).

5: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 189).


In the foreground at right is a three-storey building with a café in front, and at left is the base of the column of San Marco. The dome of the cathedral is glimpsed to left behind the column, and the entrance, partly covered in scaffolding, to right. Figures sit on the steps at the base of the column and in a café in the piazzetta to right, and walk in the square beyond. There are flights of pigeons in the sky, and more in front of the column and being fed by small children in the foreground at right. The clock-tower is seen across the square, between four- and five-storey buildings. There are clouds in the sky.


Etching: c_K189_01
San Marco and the Piazzetta, Venice, 2006.
Photograph © M.F. MacDonald, Whistler Etchings Project.
It is a view from the quayside looking across the piazzetta to the cathedral of San Marco on the left (reversed in printing as usual). The façade is covered with the scaffolding from a controversial conservation programme. 6 In the left foreground is the base of one of the massive antique columns of San Marco.

6: Grieve 2000[more], pp. 166-167; MacDonald 2001[more]. pp. 68, 87-88, 91.

One of the most famous sites in Venice, Italy, known to every tourist, this was among the two most popular and well known sites etched by Whistler, the other being The Rialto 199.