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Print - A Fruit Stall
  • A Fruit Stall
    Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, born 1834 - died 1903
  • Enlarge image

A Fruit Stall

  • Object:


  • Date:

    Unknown (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, born 1834 - died 1903 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    collotype reproduction of an etching

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case EE, shelf 1, box D

Collotype, known as 'phototype' in France and 'lichtdruck' in Germany, came into use in the 1870s. It has the advantage of being able to render continuous gradations of tone without the intervention of a screen, but its disadvantage is that the plate can only yield about 2000 impressions. For these reasons collotype is usually only used for work where the accuracy of the tone is of special importance, as in the reproductions of works of art.

Collotype is a photomechanical process in which a film of gelatine provides the printing surface. The technique depends on the fact that light-sensitised gelatine hardens in proportion to the amount of light to which it is exposed.

A solution of light-sensitised gelatine is poured over a sheet of plate glass. When it is dry the plate is placed in contact with the negative and exposed to light. The dark parts in the original image (light in the negative) cause the gelatine to harden and become impervious to moisture, while the light parts in the original (dark in the negative) remain soft and absorbent. When the printing ink is applied to the gelatine it is accepted in inverse proportion to the amount of moisture the surface retains, the driest areas accepting most and therefore printing the darkest. The printing surface is formed of a massing of tiny irregular crinkles created as the gelatine dries in the initial plate-making process. To print a collotype in colour, a separate plate is required for each shade. Collotypes are often also coloured by stencil.

Physical description

The image shows a scene in Venice of a temporarily-erected fruit stall on the edge of a canal with boats in the foreground. The stall is next to a doorway from which two people are emerging. The fruit vendor sits amongst her produce and a mother and child stand to the left.


Unknown (made)


Whistler, James Abbott McNeill, born 1834 - died 1903 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

collotype reproduction of an etching


Height: 24.8 cm size of sheet, Width: 17 cm size of sheet, Height: 22.6 cm size of image, Width: 15.1 cm size of image

Descriptive line

Collotype. Photographer unknown. Reproduction of an etching entitled A fruit stall by James McNeill Whistler, after 1880.


Printing ink; Paper




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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