c. 1889; Ink on paper/Dry-point and etching, 22.9 x 16.1 cm; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
The back of a house reflected in the water of an Amsterdam canal. There are two people in the doorway on the waterfront: a man leaning against a post (a dreamy figure, perhaps the Pierrot of the title?) and a woman leaning over the water. The building and the water are rendered with rough areas of hatching which leave large areas of black. A vague reflection of the two figures is visible in the water. James McNeill Whistler made this print in 1889, when he spent two months in the Netherlands. In fact, the artist visited this country several times. He found the rivers and canals inspiring and was especially enthralled by Amsterdam. In a series of prints he recorded his favorite parts of the city: the picturesque canals of the slum areas with their delapidated houses and rows of washing lines.
Whistler depicted the city from the water. He sailed around on a boat and recorded what he saw from his low perspective: the water, the quayside and the basements of the canalside houses. Inspired by Rembrandt's etchings, Whistler breathed new life into the art form. He experimented with a range of etching and print techniques. Whistler's Amsterdam etchings influenced several other artists, including Witsen (who also had a small studio on a boat) and Breitner, who recorded his impressions of the city in photos and paintings.
Credits: The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.