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All etchings of Venice were measured against Canaletto's of the 18th century. Like the Venetian master, Whistler's etchings were precisely drawn and so intensely lit that the glare of sunlight obliterated the edges of buildings. Unlike Canaletto, however, Whistler focused on Venice's overlooked byways, worked smaller and printed in soft browns on old Dutch paper.
Whistler felt that no professional printer could retain the nuances of his fifty Venetian etchings. To indicate to the buying public that he had printed them himself, Whistler added his butterfly signature in pencil for the first time. Haden's pencil signature appears on even earlier prints, but was added later.