Lithograph on blue laid appliqué on heavy cream wove paper, 1878. 172x258 mm; 6 3/4x10 1/4 inches, full margins. Second state (of 2). Edition of approximately 100 printed on light blue laid appliqué, this likely an early proof for Notes, with the pencil signature. Signed in pencil, lower right. A brilliant, richly-inked and atmospheric impression of this very scarce, early and important lithograph.
Spink notes that all but one known impression of the second state are printed in black on blue laid appliqué. According to the catalogue raisonné, the only other known impression of the second state not printed on light blue laid appliqué is in the Cincinnati Art Museum (though another similar impression, separate from the current impression, sold at Swann, April 28, 2011, sale 2245, lot 217).
Spink cites only three signed impressions, all in the first state, and adds that, "It is not clear if the entire edition was printed in 1878/79, when an unsuccessful attempt was made to enlist subscribers for Whistler's Art Notes series, or if most of the impressions were pulled in 1887 for the revamped portfolio project, Notes. The existence of a number of proofs signed in graphite on the plate paper with Whistler's name rather than the butterfly monogram suggests that at least part of the edition was printed in 1879, when it was still his practice to sign his work this way," (The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler, Chicago, 1998, volume I, page 63).
An extremely scarce, early lithograph. We have found only 12 other impressions of this subject at auction in the past 30 years. Way 5; Levy 11; Spink 8.