La Salute: Dawn

Panoramic seascape with buildings in background
James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903)
La Salute: Dawn, 1879−80
Etching, brown ink on cream Dutch laid paper
5 × 7 7/8 in. (12.7 × 20.1 cm)
Published in the Second Venice Set (“A Set of Twenty-Six Etchings by James A. McN. Whistler,” 1886)
Fourth state of four
Signed at left in plate and in graphite in tab at lower left: Whistler’s butterfly monogram
Gertrude Kosovsky Collection
© The Frick Collection
 

Whistler wrote his mother, "I am at my work the first thing at dawn and the last thing at night." These unusual hours were likely inspired by his desire to render Venice's dawning and dwindling light. Whistler divides his composition into three distinctive bands of sky, land, and water. He visually compresses three iconic sites — (from left to right) San Marco with its bell tower, the domed Santa Maria della Salute, and the Palladian Church of San Giorgio Maggiore — into a single continuous form, seemingly executed without lifting his etching needle from the plate. As in many prints, this image reverses the actual view.