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Laguna with Steamers and Gondolas

Although interested in Japanese art since his youth, Robert Blum developed a more sophisticated understanding of its aesthetics through his close contact with James McNeill Whistler in Venice—the setting of this work—during the summer of 1880. From Whistler he learned to create compositional tensions between blank areas and those with motifs, as well as to achieve tonal variations in etching with sketchy lines and hand-inked plates. The latter technique produced the subtle grays in the sky of this work.

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