Lagoon: Noon


James McNeill Whistler (1830-1903), Lagoon: Noon, etching and drypoint, 1879-1880, signed with the butterfly and inscribed “imp” on the tab [also signed with the butterfly in the plate lower left]. Reference: Glasgow 209, third state (of 3), Kennedy 216, third state (of 3); Lochnan 231, 4 7/8 x 7 7/8 inches.

A fine impression with very little plate tone, and printed with extraordinary attention to the etching and drypoint details. The printed butterfly, usually only barely visible, is clearly defined in this impression (see detail below).  Kennedy mades special note that an impression like this, with the clearly visible butterfly, was in the collection of John H. Wrenn.

On a commission from the Fine Arts Society, Whistler created the plates of his Venice series, including Lagoon: Noon during the fall and winter of 1879-1880. He published them in two groups, first with the Fine Arts Society, and then, after much disputation with the Society, a second group with the firm of Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell (called the “Second Venice Set”). Lagoon: Noon was published in the latter set. Whistler insisted on printing these proofs himself, and of course had extremely high standards, so he got behind in printing these impressions (and he had not yet finished the impressions from the First Set) – but of course the care he took in printing these proofs make them highly sought after today.