Alderney Street

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 246
Date: 1881
Medium: etching
Size: 180 x 113 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Gazette des Beaux-Arts', 1881
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 35
Catalogues: K.238; M.236; W.196
Impressions taken from this plate  (35)
Alderney Street dates from 1881. Whistler had agreed to etch an illustration for an article by Théodore Duret (1838-1927) in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. This was delayed by the death of Whistler's mother, Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881). On 2 February 1881 Duret sent condolences and assured Whistler that there was no hurry for the illustration:
'Ne vous préoccupez point de notre article, Rien ne presse. Il a été seulement convenu avec la Gazette que je ferais un article sur vous / Vous ferez donc plus tard, à votre convenance, l'illustration que vous m'avez promise, et je vous prie, en grâce, de n'y pas penser en ce moment.' 1

1: GUW #00984.

Translated: 'Do not worry about our article, there is no hurry. It was only agreed with the Gazette that I would do an article on you / Later, at your convenience, you can do the illustration that you promised me, and I beg you, please, not to think about it at this moment!'
Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913) remembered that Whistler was then printing the 'First Venice Set' for the Fine Art Society:
'Whilst he was working in Air Street there came a request for an illustration, from the Gazette des Beaux Arts. He thought at first of doing a lithograph, and I took him to see a certain court on the south side of the Strand, since cleared away; but the wind was in the east, and there were no children about, and so he could not get a subject out of it. Then I took him to the rooms at the top of a house in Lancaster Place, occupied by the Rev. Henry White of the Chapel Royal, Savoy, the rooms in question having at that time one of the most splendid views over the river towards Westminster, but he did not fancy the subject ... He eventually made the plate called "Alderney Street," from the window of a friend's house, for the Gazette des Beaux Arts'. 2

2: Way 1912, p. 44.

Alderney Street definitely dates from 1881 and was not, as has been asserted, published in the book Etchings, with descriptive text by George W.H. Ritchie and others, published by Dodd & Mead in 1880.