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James McNeill Whistler


James McNeill Whistler revolutionized the practice of printmaking during the mid-nineteenth century. Rather than follow the custom of reproducing existing paintings, he made novel compositions in etching—and even took his wax-coated copper plates outdoors to work en plein air.

Whistler also contributed to the burgeoning field of arts marketing. To heighten his public image and to provide information on the date of a print or its sale, Whistler penciled his initials in the form of a butterfly on a small tab at the margin of the work.


James McNeill Whistler
Lowell, MA 1834–London, England 1903
Amsterdam from the Tolhuis
Etching and drypoint, 1863
5 5/8 × 8 5/16 inches
Sheldon Museum of Art, Nebraska Art Association, gift of James A. and Ann K. Rawley, N-710.1988