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Nocturne: Palaces

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Image of Nocturne: Palaces

James Abbott McNeill Whistler
American, 1834–1903

Nocturne: Palaces

1879–1880
From the series, Twenty Six Etchings (Second Venice Set) 1886

Object Type: Print
Creation Place: North America, American
Dimensions:
11 3/4 in. x 8 in. (29.85 cm x 20.32 cm)
Medium and Support: Etching and drypoint on laid paper
Accession Number: 1999.0007.0143

Credit Line: Gift of Jean K. Weil in memory of Adolph "Bucks" Weil, Jr.


As with Canaletto (Italian, 1697–1768), Whistler found Venice to be a source of beguiling imagery for his etchings. Whistler’s vision of the city is often more poetic and evocative than descriptive, as is suggested by the vague titles of many of his prints, such as "Nocture: Palaces." Like Canaletto, he sought to capture the atmosphere of the city, but he did so in a very different way. His use of heavy plate tone and trembling, almost ghostly lines give the buildings a feeling of otherworldly impermanence, as though they were as transient as their reflections in the canals below.

"Dürer, Rembrandt, and Beyond from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Weil, Jr.," exh. cat. (Montgomery: Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, 1994,) 37.

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