Edward T. Pollack Fine Arts


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Whistler, James A. M. VITRE: THE CANAL, BRITTANY. Levy 65, Spink 63. Lithograph, 1893. One of 32 lifetime impressions, printed by Way, with Whistler's butterfly signature in pencil. (There were also 45 posthumlous impressions printed by Goulding, which are unsigned). 9 1/4 x 5 7/8 inches, 240 x 148 mm. (image), Remnants of old paper tape at sheet edges, else, a very fine impression in excellent condition. This is one of five lithographs done by Whistler during a trip to Brittany with his wife in 1893, and one of the most effective and desirable of his lithographs. There was much controversy, including a famous lawsuit, over whether Whistler's use of lithographic transfer paper, as opposed to direct working on the stone, was a legitimate means of producing an original artwork. During the trip in France, Whistler would send his transfer paper drawings to his printer, Thomas Way, and Way would make proofs for Whistler's approval. "Vitre, the Canal" was the first transfer lithograph for which Whistler employed the use of a "stump," a piece of rolled paper used in lithography to soften contours and create tonal effects. Way went to considerable effort to produce Whistler's desired effect, which he describes in his book "Memories," as follows: "He sent first the subject known as 'Vitre - The Canal.' The drawing was made with chalk and finished with stump, the sky and watery foreground being almost entirely so drawn. Now, if this had been drawn on stone, it would have been a simple matter for the printer; but it was done on transfer paper, and was new to us, and one dared not risk such a charming drawing without learning how to treat it. So I made some little drawings in the same manner, and had them put on stone, and worked out the proper treatment, and I was well rewarded by the successful result when the "Canal" was proved, and the confidence it gave him to follow this line of work with the perfect little group of lithographs of the Luxembourg Gardens and "The Nude Model Reclining." (Quoted in McNamara and Siewart, "Whistler: Prosaic Views, Poetic Vision, Thames & Hudson, 1994). 

Inv num: 12841


Keywords ARTWORK