James Abbot McNeil Whistler
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Bridge, Amsterdam, etching, 1889, printed in brown ink on thin laid paper, signed with the butterfly on the tab and annotated “imp”, also signed with the butterfly on the verso and numbered 11. References: Kennedy 409, Glasgow 447, fifth state (of 5). In very good condition (slight nicks at edges), trimmed by the artist on the plate mark apart from the tab, 6 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches. Provenance: Vivian and Meyer P. Potamkin, Philadelphia; sale, Sotheby’s, New York, May 11, 1989, lot 302 (the catalogue entry mentions a note on the mat which identifies this impression as formerly owned by Walter Steuben Carter and illustrated in the Kennedy catalogue; comparison with Kennedy’s plate for his third state and this impression, however, shows that the illustrated print is not identical with the present sheet) Samuel Josefowitz, Pully, Switzerland A very fine, shimmering impression of this great rarity. This impression is included in the Glasgow inventory, ID number K4090301; only about 11 lifetime impressions in all states are known (three were also printed posthumously by Nathaniel Sparks). Although the structure of the composition was established in the first state, Whistler’s re-working of the plate through all five states, with the addition of myriad lines, shading, cross-hatching in both etching and drypoint, results in a radically altered look: the final state is a darker, more dramatic, indeed even stormier rendering of what in the first state appeared to be a relatively placid scene. Interestingly, Whistler left much of the area in the upper right corner of the composition unfinished, so that the bridge remains unattached – of course he would argue that this furthers the aesthetic intent, and of course he’s right.