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The Doorway

Whistler, James Abbott McNeill (printmaker)

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The Doorway (assigned title)


Whistler, James Abbott McNeill (printmaker) American artist, 1834-1903









Technique Description

printed with surface tone and ‘monotype’ wiping in brown ink


paper (support)
brown ink (medium)


plate height: 294 mm
plate width: 200 mm
sheet height: 298 mm
sheet width: 206 mm


1879 to 1880


bought: 2008
H. Wunderlich & Co./Kennedy & Co., New York, probably during Whistler’s lifetime, and possibly consigned by him (stock number a19900 inscribed in graphite on the verso; date deduced from comparison with stock number a37215 on a print acquired in 1902 by H. Wunderlich & Co., which became Kennedy & Co. in 1912 and was later renamed Kennedy Galleries); private collection, United States, from which consigned to Christie’s sale, New York, 1 May 2007 lot 22 ($38,400), from which sale bought by C. G. Boerner.

Bought from the Gow Fund with the help of the Art Fund and the MLA/V&A Purchase Grant Fund


  1. Position: tab in lower margin
    Type: monogram
    Method: graphite
    Description: Whistler’s butterfly monogram and imp. (indicating that Whistler printed the impression himself)
  2. Position: verso
    Type: inscription
    Method: graphite
    Content: C [at 90 degrees] // a19900 // exceptionally fine // em- // 611.
    Description: a19900 is the Kennedy Galleries stock number

Other Notes

From ‘Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice’, the series of twelve prints known as the ‘First Venice Set’, first etched in 1879-80 and published by The Fine Art Society. The edition of 100 advertised in December 1880 remained incomplete at Whistler's death (1903). The FAS had no written agreement with Whistler but were to pay him 10 shillings per print (Huish to Birnie Philips 29/10/1903). In 1881 Whistler printed 26 of The Doorway and 28 of The Beggars. For the rest of the decade he printed an average per annum of 6 to 7 impressions of The Doorway and 3 to 4 impressions of The Beggars. By 1889 he had printed in total 77 impressions of The Doorway and 55 of The Beggars. By 1901 he had printed 84 impressions of The Doorway and 76 impressions of The Beggars. By his death he had printed 84 of The Doorway and 78 of The Beggars, although he apparently completed the edition of 100 impressions of each of the other ten prints. The editions of these two plates were completed by Frederick Goulding for Whistler’s executrix, his sister-in-law Birnie Phillips in 1903, and the plates cancelled (and given to the Hunterian Art Gallery). Whistler altered the plates during printing and the number of impressions of each state is unrecorded. A chair-repairer’s shop in the Palazzo Gussoni is viewed from a boat on the Rio de la Fava, to the east of the Rialto. Apart from a few stippled marks in the plate, the reflection in the canal is achieved entirely by Whistler manipulating the ink on the surface of the plate at the printing stage. The particular effect is unique to this impression.

For references see also Katharine A. Lochnan, The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven/London 1984, no. 205; Alastair Grieve, ‘The Sites of Whistler’s Venice Etchings’, Print Quarterly, vol. XIII, March 1996, pp. 29-35; C. G. Boerner in collaboration with Harris Schrank Fine prints, James McNeill Whistler, Etchings and Lithographs New York 2007, no. 21.

Standard print ref/s

Kennedy 188 VI/VII
Kennedy, Edward G.
(1978) The etched work of Whistler , San Francisco : Alan Wofsy Fine Arts

Accession Number

P.2-2008 (Paintings, Drawings and Prints)
(Reference Number: 161015; Input Date: 2008-04-03 / Last Edit: 2011-07-22)

Related Object

P.3-2008 - The Beggars

Related Image/s

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