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Art & Design

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Nocturne:Palaces, 1879-1880, Gift of the Fazzano Brothers

James Abbott McNeill Whistler


James Abbott McNeill Whistler, designer American, 1834-1903
Second Venice Set, 1879-1880
Etching and drypoint with plate tone on paper
Plate: 29.4 x 20 cm (11 9/16 x 7 7/8 inches)
Gift of the Fazzano Brothers 84.198.24

Whistler set out for Venice in 1879 with the express purpose of creating a series of etchings capturing the city’s texture, light, and shimmering quality. He carried prepared etching plates and drew on them directly from nature. In Nocturne: Palaces the canal and its surrounding architecture are sketchily described, but the scene is made more evocative by Whistler’s technique of selective ink removal from the etching plate’s surface. He indicates a night view by leaving a film of ink on the sky and water and wiping the ink cleanly around the lamp. By hand-manipulating the ink for individual impressions, each is unique and suggests a particular time of day and weather condition.

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