The Broad Bridge. 1878. Lithotint. Way 8; Spink, Stratis and Tedeschi 11. 7 1/4 x 11 (sheet 9 3/4 x 15). Printed by Thomas Way for Piccadilly Magazine, issue No. 8, July 4, 1878. Edition size: 23 proofs printed by way, and according to Way, 'many hundreds' in the published edition. A rich impression printed in black/brown ink on the full sheet of off-white plate paper. With the legend 'Imp. T.Way Lond' printed on the lower right-hand sheet corner. Monogrammed with the butterfly in the stone. $10,000
Provenance: Inscribed on the verso 'Bought at Sotheby's 1892' (1.14 British pounds); Kaspar Gallery, Toronto, called a 'lithotint'.
From whom purchased by Dr. and Mrs. Silverstein, Toronto. Sold at Waddington's Auction Gallery, Toronto.
Literature: Mervyn Levy, Catalogue Raisonne, Whistler Lithographs, plate 18.
Note: In 1878, the printer Mr. Thomas Way persuaded Whistler to make nine drawings, according to his son, T. R. Way, in his catalogue of Whistler's lithographs.
In the first five of these nine designs, Whistler experimented with the 'lithotint' process. He delighted in working in this medium and from that project Whistler's interest and delight in the art of lithography never ceased.
Thomas Way lists 12 proof impressions, and "many hundreds" printed of this scene for the magazine Piccadilly. Spink, Stratis & Tedeschi cite only four proof impressions in public collections and only eight impressions from the published edition in Piccadilly in public collections.
The Broad Bridgee was the only lithograph, from a proposed set of four, that was issued with the magazine Piccadilly before it went out of business two weeks after the issue was published. Since very few of the Piccadilly lithographs ('lithotints') are recorded in collections and few have surfaced at auction, the edition size was likely smaller than Way suggests. Three other Whistler lithographs intended for Piccadilly, but never published, include Early Morning The Toilet andThe Tall Bridge.
Way wrote: "He used Iithotint also without the prepared half-tint for three of his earliest efforts, and an interesting example is The Tall Bridge, also drawn and printed for 'Piccadilly' but not used; in this instance it is doubtful if half a dozen copies exist beyond the twelve proofs on mounted Japanese paper. It is a Broad drawing of two piers of the very quaint old wooden Battersea Bridge, which he pictured so often with the brush, the needle and the chalk.
The structure is drawn with firm chalk lines and washes of delicate tone laid over the whole to draw it together, very much as he made a painting in ink upon his Venice plates, only with this difference—that he needed to repeat the painting for each impression of the etching, while what he did upon the stone repeated itself automatically in the printing. -Some proofs were pulled in a pale brownish color, and are particularly beautiful. "
T. B. Way, The Print-Collector's Quarterly, Vol. Ill, No. 8. 1913.
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