Ponte del Piovan

whistlerpiovan3 James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Ponte del Piovan, 1879-1880, etching and drypoint, signed on the tab with the butterfly and inscribed “imp.” [also signed with the butterfly in the plate, toward the right on the bridge]  References: Kennedy 209, Glasgow 220, fifth state (of 6).It was published  (in the fifth and sixth states) by Messrs Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau with A Set of Twenty-six Etchings (the Second Venice Set) in 1886.  This is the impression cited and illustrated in Kennedy as the fourth state example; and noted as in the collection of W. Dowdeswell. 

In very good condition, trimmed around the plate mark except for the tab by the artist. Printed in a dark brown ink on a laid paper. With a tiny W and a “0” verso, possibly by Whistler; also annotated “second state” verso in pencil, 8 7/8 x 6 inches.

Provenance: letters SMS in pencil verso (not in Lugt).

Walter Dowdeswell (1858-1929), as listed by Kennedy (cf. Lugt 799). Dowdeswell was a London art dealer, and also a collector of Whistler’s work.

watermark: partial crowned shield with fleur-de-lis (cf. Spink/Stratis/Tedeschi, watermark nos. 284f.)

An extremely fine impression, with intense plate tone toward the bottom of the sheet, and with much burr on the drypoint work added for this state.

This impression was surely printed early in or before the edition, for prints from the edition typically show much wear in the drypoint work (so much so that Kennedy thought the worn impressions constituted a new state).

According to Glasgow, the Ponte del Piovan, Venice, Italy, “has been rebuilt several times, but the view is still remarkably unchanged. The etching was drawn from a gondola, looking north down the Rio de Ca’ Widmann to the Ponte del Piovan detto del Volto, with the Palazzo Widmann beyond. This view, drawn accurately on the copper plate, is reversed, as usual, in the print. 

Although Glasgow notes that approximately 44 impressions of Ponte del Piovan were published for the Second Venice Set edition, the print has appeared only rarely on the market in the last 25 years.