The Traghetto


James Whistler (1834-1903), The Traghetto, etching and drypoint, 1879-80, signed with the butterfly on the tab and inscribed imp. Reference: Kennedy 191, fourth state (of 6), Glasgow (MacDonald et al) 223, 7th state (of 9), before the eyes are added to the child at the left, and without the carafe on the table. From the First Venice Set. In excellent condition, trimmed by the artist to the platemark except for the signature tab. 9 1/2 x 11 7/8 inches.

A fine impression, printed on laid paper, with subtle plate tone. With Whistler’s three tiny circles in pencil verso, indicating that in his view this is a particularly fine impression (of course Whistler’s perspective is always colored by his marketing acumen as well as aesthetic sense).

Whistler changed this print numerous times as he progressed through many states; after the first composition he virtually re-etched the plate; at times he had a carafe on the table, then burnished it out, then added it back (here its out). In the state after this he added eyes to the child being held, at the lower left, and added the carafe to the table in drypoint. In this impression the areas of the archway are dark and rich, and the people in the distance can be seen clearly.