Thomas Way, Whistler’s printer and publisher, had tried in 1878/79 to sign up subscribers to a series of Whistler lithographs, including this one, but the project met with little success. The publishers Boussod, Valadon, and Co. revived the idea in 1887, and some of these sets had impressions printed in the 70’s, some had impressions printed in the 80’s. In many instances, such as the present impression, it is not possible to determine from which printing an impression originates.
The technique, lithotint, exploits variations of tone through the extensive use of washes applied to the stone by brush, which purposely leaves a great deal to chance, even more than watercolor. Limehouse in the first state was too dark, almost unreadable, and Whistler scraped and etched the stone further, lightening it considerably. The lithotint process is still not completely understood. (See N. Smale, “The Lithotint Mystery”: The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler, The Art Institute of Chicago, 1998, vol. II, pp. 207-215.)
Averell Harriman (?); to
His estate (?); to
Parke-Bernet, New York, November 22, 1972; to
David Tunick, Inc., New York; 1972 to
Robert Rice (1925-?), New York and Florida, his stamp verso (David Tunick, Inc. catalogue, Apendix B, no. 2); 1975 to David Tunick, Inc. (Catalogue no. 7, no. 45); 1987 to
Private collection, New York; 2008 to
David Tunick, Inc.
Way 4; Levy 8; Chicago 7, second state of three, before the final lightening and other changes, including the flattening of the roof on the right