Ships at anchor in a lagoon is the focus of this image. Smaller boats are tied to the quay in the foreground and along the horizon line is a cityscape, leading to a large church at the left, with an impressive facade, dome and bell tower behind. A large ship is moored between the viewer and the church. Much of the foreground is occupied by water without boats, leaving the elements of the composition largely in the middle distance.
The subject of the "Nocturne" from the "First Venice Set" is seen here in a daytime view. The Palladian church of San Giorgio Maggiore sits on an island in the Venetian lagoon opposite the Doges Palace, making it one of the principal attractions in central Venice. Whistler usually shied away from depicting the major monuments of Venice, and when he did he often showed the site from an unusual vantage point; in this instance he restricted himself to allowing the reversal typical in etching to suffice in providing a different view of the famous church.
Inscribed in ballpoint pen and ink on tape on spine: "GERM SWISS/AUSTR/ITALY" Signed on flyleaf in fountain pen and black ink, u.r. corner: "Charles L Luck"; inscribed below in graphite: "B402/No. 5" Dated in fountain pen and black ink on first leaf, u.r. corner: "SEPTEMBER-1884" Each image is identified in fountain pen and black ink on mount.