In 1879, Whistler visited Venice with the intention of producing a series of etchings. He returned to London at the end of 1880 with a group of plates that he published in two series, both financial disasters. The first group, exhibited in London shortly after his return, was dismissed as another crop of Mr. Whistler's little jokes. The second series, to which this print belongs, appeared in 1886. In his Venetian etchings, Whistler sought out picturesque details of the city that had escaped earlier artists. Here, the artist has located a lone fishing boat floating in the lagoon; its limp and ragged sail dominate the composition. Faintly sketched in the background is the church of Santa Maria della Salute.