About this artwork

Whistler made this etching during his trip to Venice during 1879-80, but it was not published until 1886. In Venice Whistler produced a number of pastels and etchings, including many Nocturnes (night-views). This view of a Furnace shows the doorway to a forge that opens out onto a small canal. The claw-like prow of a gondola edges eerily into view from the left. In the doorway, the smith stands facing towards the viewer wearing and apron and holding his tool. The blazing light of the forge fills the interior in sharp contrast to the darkness outside. Whistler’s Nocturnes often gave everyday scenes an other-worldly and mysterious quality, and the forge, with its associations with ancient mythology and elemental creation appealed to his artistic tastes.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler

James Abbott McNeill Whistler