Ponte del Piovan

Bridge over a canal with buildings on either side

James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
Ponte del Piovan, 1879/80
Etching and drypoint, brownish-black ink on cream laid paper
9 × 6 in. (22.9 × 15.2 cm)
Published in the Second Venice Set (“A Set of Twenty-Six Etchings by James A. McN. Whistler,” 1886)
Fifth state of six
Signed in graphite, in tab at lower left: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
© The Frick Collection


Whistler drew this from a gondola, looking down the canal to the Ponte del Piovan, also called Ponte del Volto. This view was popular among artists, as Titian is said to have died in one of the houses at left. Strong horizontal and vertical architectural elements dominate this meticulously rendered scene. The arch of the bridge and its piers frame the water below, as well as the background scene, in which figures walk through an arcade by the waterway. A flurry of drypoint lines suggests reflections on the river as well as clouds in the sky.

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