James McNeill Whistler, a master of etching, would refer to the history of art as “the story of the beautiful,” a story “always constant” through cultural and material shifts. Whistler’s etchings of the Venetian lagoon in his Second Venice Set remained constant, too. They represented a seminal shift in the artist’s career: The 26 impressions were purchased by collector Charles Lang Freer and began a long partnership between artist and patron. The gallery that bears Freer’s name now holds more than 1,300 of Whistler’s paintings, prints, and drawings. Artistically, the everyday scenes of Venice marked a transition from realism to impressionism with a focus on the arches, doorways, balconies, and bridges of Venice rather than the typified images of the city’s tourism. Though the Second Set is well-known within Whistler’s oeuvre, this exhibition seeks to tell the story from Freer’s perspective, exploring how the acquisition changed the collector’s aesthetic taste and shaped his legacy. The exhibition is on view daily 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive and 12th Street SW. Free. (202) 633-4880. asia.si.edu.