Born into an affluent and prominent Dutch family, Willem Witsen (1860-1923) is known a prolific painter and etcher of cityscapes.  Witsen also was an avid photographer and portraitist.  Unencumbered by financial constraints he trained at Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam and seems to have been able to travel to major European cities often.  Influenced by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, whose work he discovered while visiting London, as well as by French Impressionism, Witsen adopted an Impressionistic style.  A certain melancholy permeates his work in which Northern European light, of overcast skies and with soft contrasts, sets the tone.  As a printmaker he took to etching early and mostly depicted cities, such as Amsterdam and Venice.  He also would show the countryside on occasion, as well as the odd figure in a landscape, or portrait, and other major European cities such as London and Paris.  While his etchings are traditional in execution, they are created with great care, and are unusually moody compared to the work of other etchers of his time.  His contemporaries tended to render cities with tourists in mind.  Like Whistler, Witsen often focused on random elements of city charm, generally seen from the water (he painted watercolor sketches from boat often), or at street level, rather than the monumental, seen from above.