An original lithograph printed in black ink on wove paper. Signed on the stone with the artist's butterfly monogram lower right.
This is a fine impression of the definitive state, from the edition of approximately 3,000 issued in the periodical The Studio 3, no. 18, September 15, 1894 (apart from 28 early impressions printed by Way, and the edition of 32 printed posthumously by Goulding on November 16, 1903). Published by The Studio, bearing its blindstamp (Lugt 2322 bis) in the sheet lower right; printed by Thomas Way. Catalogue reference: Spink 86; Way 52; Levy 83. Collections in which impressions from this edition can be found: Boston Public Library, Massachusetts; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge; New York Public Library, New York; Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts, San Francisco.
During his first sojourn in Paris as a student, Whistler copied paintings in the Louvre and would certainly have frequented the longest room in the great complex, the Grande Galerie. The galley was divided into six bays and, at its eastern end, adjoined the Salon Carré, which contained the “gems of the collection.” Whistler's lithograph shows the eastern bay of the Grande Galerie, where paintings by masters of the Italian High Renaissance were displayed. His choice of subject matter follows the eighteenth-century tradition of depicting groups of spectators studying and copying works of art in museums and princely collections. Whistler captured not only the scale of the long room, but also the quality of light and the glassy character of its highly polished floor.
“The Long Gallery, Louvre” was probably one of “two new drawings” that Whistler sent to the Ways in London on July 17, 1894. In a letter mailed two days earlier, the artist had informed his printers that he had been approached by Gleeson White about a second lithograph for The Studio, the well-known art magazine that had published his “Gants de Suède” in April 1894. White's request reached Whistler in the midst of prolonged deliberations concerning the publication of a lithograph in another British periodical, The Art Journal. By July 30th, Whistler was finally able to tell T.R. Way that The Art Journal had chosen “Nuresmaids: Les Bonnes du Luxembourg” and that he had agreed to let The Studio publish “The Long Gallery: Louvre.”
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