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The Doorway

Series/Portfolio:
First Venice Set ("Venice: Twelve Etchings," 1880)
Artist:
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Date:
1879–80
Medium:
Etching, drypoint and roulette; fourteenth state of twenty (Glasgow); printed in brownish-black ink on ivory laid paper
Dimensions:
Plate: 11 1/2 x 7 7/8 in. (29.2 x 20 cm) Sheet: 11 1/2 × 7 7/8 in. (29.2 × 20 cm) Frame: 21 x 16 in. (53.3 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1917
Accession Number:
17.3.90
Not on view
Richly ornamented panels surround a central void and invite us into the shadowed interior of the Palazzo Gussoni, with a sunlit courtyard glimpsed beyond. This etching belongs to Whistler’s "First Venice Set," and the artist found his subject on the Rio de la Fava canal, east of the Rialto. The dark interior space seems dappled with reflected light shining through a grid that fills the central arch. Close inspection, however, reveals the shapes to be chairs hanging from the ceiling. Whistler undoubtedly planned this coincidence of patterning and avoided clarifying the details. His interest in shifting light led him to devote one-third of the sheet to the foreground canal, where subtly manipulated plate tone contrasts suggested depth with reflected surface.
Signature: In plate: butterfly monogram; In graphite: butterfly monogram and "imp" dating from c. 1887 on reserved tab
Harris Brisbane Dick; Vendor: Dick Estate, U.S. Trust
Institut Valencià d'Art Modern. "James Whistler, Zoran Music," July 21, 2005–September 11, 2005.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 9, 2012–March 25, 2012.

Kennedy 188 vi/vii; Glasgow 193 xiv/xx; Mansfield 185
Howard Mansfield A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings and Drypoints of James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Caxton Club, 1909, cat. no. 185.

Edward Guthrie Kennedy, Royal Cortissoz The Etched Work of Whistler: illustrated by reproductions in collotype of the different states of the plates. The Grolier Club, 1910, cat. no. 188 vi/vii.

Katharine A. Lochnan The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler. Ex. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 14–November 11, 1984; The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, November 24, 1984–January 13, 1985. Yale University Press, Art Gallery of Ontario, New Haven, 1984, cat. no. 205, pp. 182, 214, 266.

Alastair Grieve Whistler's Venice. New Haven and London, 2000, fig. no. 104, pp. 92, 94, 97, 189.

Margaret F. MacDonald Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice. Aldershot and California, 2001, pp. 64, 70, 76, 77, 84, 88, 94-5, 101, 115, 129-32, pl. 90, 133.

Gordon Cooke James McNeill Whistler, The Embroidered Curtain. Dealer exh. cat. The Fine Art Society, London, London, 2007, cat. no. 24.

Margaret F. MacDonald, Grischka Petri, Joanna Meacock James McNeill Whistler: The Etchings, a catalogue raisonné, University of Glasgow on-line website at http://etchings.arts.gla.ac.uk. University of Glasgow, 2012, cat. no. 193 xiv/xx.



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