San Biagio

Whistler

James Whistler (1834-1903), San Biagio, 1880, etching and drypoint, signed on the tab with the butterfly and annotated “imp.” Reference: Glasgow 237, Kennedy 197, Glasgow’s sixteenth state (of 17), from the Second Venice Set, 1886. Printed on a light laid paper, in very fine condition, trimmed by the artist outside of the platemark except for the tab, 8 x 11 5/8 inches.

Provenance:

Henry Harper Benedict (1844-1935)  (Lugt 1298, his stamp verso)

A very fine, delicately printed impression, printed in a black/brown ink, with plate tone overall, wiped slightly more in the center area and with a subtle additional layering of tone in the lower portion of the composition – the water of the canal. 

When San Biagio was shown at the Fine Art Society in London Whistler wrote in the exhibition catalogue, ironically twining it with an earlier review in the Observer (according to Glasgow): “So far removed from any accepted canons of art as to be beyond the understanding of an ordinary mortal.”

But the reviewer from the Saturday Review wrote: ‘Again, in “San Biagio”, we find a strikingly broad and true feeling and expression of atmosphere in the sky space seen through the arch; and we find a masterly treatment of the texture and transparency of the water, a treatment indeed which in etching is little short of surprising.’