This work is signed on the stone with the artist’s butterfly monogram at the lower right. It is a fine lifetime impression of Spink’s second and final state of this scarce lithograph, from the edition of only 15 in this state printed by Thomas Way, London (apart from approximately 12 impressions of the first state printed by Way, and 63 impressions printed on a full sheet). Provenance: Rosealind Birnie Philip, Whistler’s sister-in-law and executrix, bearing her collection stamp (Lugt 405) in brown ink lower left corner verso. Whistler must have taken a brief trip to Rouen, about ninety miles from Paris and accessible by rail, in late August 1894. The journey was probably made between August 26, when the artist sent the transfer drawing for The Duet from Paris to the Ways of London, and August 30, when he mailed The Priest’s House, Rouen. The image recalls the lithographs of picturesque old buildings that he drew in Brittany during the summer of 1893, as well as etchings made in Amsterdam, the Loire Valley, and Venice. The familiar view through a darkened passageway to a distant street reiterates one of Whistler’s favorite motifs. Although The Priest’s House, Rouen did not appear in the Fine Art Society exhibition of 1895-96, Whistler did not suppress the image. The gallery ordered an impression for a client in March 1896. The dealer Edward Kennedy also liked the image and ordered several impressions to sell in America; apparently, he preferred the finished appearance of the lithograph to some of Whistler’s later, more abbreviated images.
This work is part of a carefully curated selection by noted fine art expert Jennifer McCloskey, who was formerly affiliated with Doyle Gallery in New York and is now based in San Francisco. If you have questions about any of the works in this selection, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.