Nov 02, 2023 - Sale 2651

Sale 2651 - Lot 140

Price Realized: $ 6,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 7,000 - $ 10,000
The Little Lagoon.

Etching and drypoint printed in black on Japan paper, 1880. 225x153 mm; 8 7/8x6 inches. MacDonald's third state (of 4). Signed with the large butterfly and inscribed "imp" in pencil, lower left. From Twelve Etchings. A brilliant, early and richly-inked, proof-like impression with warm plate tone and selective wiping.

In July 1879, the Fine Art Society of London commissioned Whistler (1834-1903) to go to Venice and return by December with a set of 12 etched plates. Whistler eagerly accepted the commission, which gave him the chance to recoup his losses from the Ruskin trial and cover costs on the design of his "White House" in Chelsea (the house and contents had to be auctioned after he declared bankruptcy in 1879) and possibly also the means to get away from London.

Whistler and his then model and mistress Maud Franklin arrived in Venice in September 1879 and remained there until November 1880. During this time, he produced far more than the dozen etchings stipulated by the commission; he returned from Venice with over 50 etchings, several nocturne paintings and around a hundred pastels.

The Venice etchings are in many ways a continuation of the themes he had been exploring in his 1860s/late 1870s etchings and lithographs of London and The Thames. These repeat characteristics include a sketch-like, drawn from nature quality, with an indifference to topographical accuracy and depth. Many of the Venice etchings, with watery foregrounds and high horizon lines, or directly frontal views of building facades, seem very two-dimensional. Several of the Venice scenes have a vignette-like appearance, with central compositions and considerable blank space at the edges of the sheet. Kennedy 186; Glasgow 216.