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The Fish Shop, Venice

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 226
Date: 1879/1880
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 131 x 223 mm
Signed: butterfly at left and upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 9
Known impressions: 18
Catalogues: K.218; M.215; W.188
Impressions taken from this plate  (18)


arch, canal, bridge, child, fish, lantern, , people, shop, steps, street.


Variations on the title and punctuation are as follows:

'Fish Shop' (1883, Fine Art Society). 1
'The Fish Shop' (1886?, Whistler). 2
'Fish-Shop, Venice' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 3
'Fish Shop Venice' (1887/1888, Whistler). 4
'The Fish Shop' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 5

'The Fish Shop, Venice' is the preferred title and includes elements of Whistler's titles.

1: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 6).

2: List of 'Venice 2nd Series', [1877-1903], GUW 13088.

3: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 188).

4: List, [1887/1888], GUW #13233.

5: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 218).


A view across a canal to a building, drawn parallel to the edges of the plate. Two people are looking out of a window high on the wall at left. A passageway with steps leading down to the water is in the middle, a shop at right, and part of a steeply arched bridge at far right. The passage has blackened wooden rafters, supported by piers jutting out from the wall, and has a lantern hanging in the centre. A boy stands on the steps, at right, and there are women behind him in the passage, and more figures sitting and standing in the courtyard beyond. The shop has counters both at the canal side, where a man is seated, and in the passage, where a woman is standing, eating or preparing shell-fish. Inside the shop, there are shelves with large plates and glasses, and a lamp, under a shadowed ceiling of wooden beams.


The Calle de le Acque as seen from the Rio dei Baretèri, San Marco, south of the Palazzo Gussoni (where Whistler etched The Doorway 193), in Venice, Italy. The bridge on the right is the Ponte de le Acque. Whistler may have been working from a boat or from a doorway above the rio at No. 4934 San Marco, and looked west across the rio in the direction of the Rialto. 6 This view, drawn accurately on the copper plate, is reversed, as usual, in the print.

6: Grieve 2000[more], pp. 95, 97.


This is an elaborate etching, with considerable detail, showing a range of technical effects from closely hatched shadows to ink tone for reflections in the water; it is surprising that it was not selected for publication, but it was printed and sold by the artist, independently of any publisher.
In Venice all manner of water-gates, steps and passages give access to the canals and lagoon, and Whistler etched several; see for instance, The Traghetto 233, The Beggars 190, San Biagio 237 and Venetian Court 189.