Signed by the artist lower right in pencil with his Monogram. Also printed butterfly centre left. Second state of three. Rare. Transfer lithograph in black, with stumping, printed by Way on cream wove Japanese paper. Way lists 34 impressions without distinguishing between the three states.
After encouraging James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) to experiment with lithography in 1878, printer Thomas Way (1837-1915) remained involved with every stage of Whistler’s involvement with the medium until 1897. As evident in The Smith, Passage du Dragon, Whistler developed a unique relationship with the printer. The first state of The Smith resulted in an uneven distribution of ink throughout the image. To achieve deep black tones Whistler and Way reworked the image while printing. In this rare second state offered by Gerrish Fine Art, the shadows of the blacksmith shop have been darkened with strokes of the crayon, along with the rubbing of a stump, directly on the stone. The additional lines hold a finer appearance when compared to the lines transferred onto the stone from the drawing.
Records document that the artist was billed for twenty impressions of The Smith by Way in preparation for the Mr. Whistler's Lithographs exhibition at the Fine Art Society in 1895. The artist was involved with preparation for the event; however, the exhibition was not well covered in the press. When discussed The Smith, Passage du Dragon was mentioned as a key work. Eleven impressions of the image were sold from the exhibition, including a second-state impression currently within the Art Institute of Chicago collection.