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Whistler was commissioned to make etchings of Venice in September 1879. Scores of etchers had previously depicted Venice's architectural beauties, but Whistler was fascinated by the changing moods and shifting lights of the city.
Nocturnal effects were recaptured by leaving a film of ink on the etching plate, which had to be reapplied for each printing. Whistler trusted no one but himself to ink and print these moody impressions.
"I have learned to know a Venice in Venice that the others never seem to have perceived."-J.A.M. Whistler, 1880