Nocturne: Palaces is one of the most evocative of Whistler’s Venetian etchings. A gas lantern casts rays of light into the gathering darkness and acts as a focal point for a meeting of palace walls, canals, and a footbridge veiled by atmospheric haze. The delicate streaking of the ink in the upper and lower portions of the sheet creates effects similar to monotype achieved through careful wiping. Whistler trimmed the print to the plate line, leaving a small tab where he inscribed his butterfly signature, establishing the idea of a limited edition. He printed this work three years after returning to London from Venice, for an 1883 exhibition at the Fine Art Society. In 1886, it was published by Dowdeswell and Thibaudeau in Twenty-Six Etchings (the "Second Venice Set").
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Series/Portfolio:Second Venice Set ("A Set of Twenty-Six Etchings by James A. McN. Whistler," 1886)
Howard Mansfield A Descriptive Catalogue of the Etchings and Drypoints of James Abbott McNeill Whistler. Caxton Club, 1909, cat. no. 199.
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. 202 ix/ix.
Alice Newlin "A Gift of Prints and Drawings: The Prints" in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 35, no. 8, New York, August, 1940, p. 156.
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. 201, pp. 182, 194, 196, 200-5, 232, 281.
Alastair Grieve Whistler's Venice. New Haven and London, 2000, fig. no. 113-114, pp. 98-101, 192.
Margaret F. MacDonald Palaces in the Night: Whistler in Venice. Aldershot and California, 2001, pp. 71, 84, 115, 120, 123, 137, pl. 126.
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. 200 xii/xii.
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