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The Doorway


Whistler, James Abbott McNeill; printmaker; American artist, 1834-1903






1879 1880


19th century




paper; support; antique laid paper trimmed by the artist
brown ink; medium


printed with surface tone and ‘monotype’ wiping in brown ink


height, plate, 294, mm
width, plate, 200, mm
height, sheet, 298, mm
width, sheet, 206, mm


bought; 2008;


H. Wunderlich & Co./Kennedy & Co., New York, probably during Whistler’s lifetime, and possibly consigned by him (stock number a19900 inscribed in graphite on the verso; date deduced from comparison with stock number a37215 on a print acquired in 1902 by H. Wunderlich & Co., which became Kennedy & Co. in 1912 and was later renamed Kennedy Galleries); private collection, United States, from which consigned to Christie’s sale, New York, 1 May 2007 lot 22 ($38,400), from which sale bought by C. G. Boerner.


From ‘Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice’, the series of twelve prints known as the ‘First Venice Set’, first etched in 1879-80 and published by The Fine Art Society. The edition of 100 advertised in December 1880 remained incomplete at Whistler's death (1903). The FAS had no written agreement with Whistler but were to pay him 10 shillings per print (Huish to Birnie Philips 29/10/1903). In 1881 Whistler printed 26 of The Doorway and 28 of The Beggars. For the rest of the decade he printed an average per annum of 6 to 7 impressions of The Doorway and 3 to 4 impressions of The Beggars. By 1889 he had printed in total 77 impressions of The Doorway and 55 of The Beggars. By 1901 he had printed 84 impressions of The Doorway and 76 impressions of The Beggars. By his death he had printed 84 of The Doorway and 78 of The Beggars, although he apparently completed the edition of 100 impressions of each of the other ten prints. The editions of these two plates were completed by Frederick Goulding for Whistler’s executrix, his sister-in-law Birnie Phillips in 1903, and the plates cancelled (and given to the Hunterian Art Gallery). Whistler altered the plates during printing and the number of impressions of each state is unrecorded. A chair-repairer’s shop in the Palazzo Gussoni is viewed from a boat on the Rio de la Fava, to the east of the Rialto. Apart from a few stippled marks in the plate, the reflection in the canal is achieved entirely by Whistler manipulating the ink on the surface of the plate at the printing stage. The particular effect is unique to this impression.
For references see also Katharine A. Lochnan, The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven/London 1984, no. 205; Alastair Grieve, ‘The Sites of Whistler’s Venice Etchings’, Print Quarterly, vol. XIII, March 1996, pp. 29-35; C. G. Boerner in collaboration with Harris Schrank Fine prints, James McNeill Whistler, Etchings and Lithographs New York 2007, no. 21.

Acquisition Credit:

Bought from the Gow Fund with the help of the Art Fund and the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund


monogram; tab in lower margin; graphite; Whistler’s butterfly monogram and imp. (indicating that Whistler printed the impression himself)
inscription; verso; graphite; C [at 90 degrees] // a19900 // exceptionally fine // em- // 611.; a19900 is the Kennedy Galleries stock number


Kennedy; 188 VI/VII


Designed to Impress: highlights from the Print Collection (I). 2012-04-03 - 2012-10-07
Organiser: The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (Cambs.), UK
Venue: Charrington Print Room, The Fitzwilliam Museum

Related Object:

P.3-2008; The Beggars


Object Number: P.2-2008
(Paintings, Drawings and Prints)
(record id: 161015; input: 2008-04-03; modified: 2018-05-02)


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