Newspaper-Stall, Rue de Seine

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 474
Date: 1893
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 81 x 200 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 13
Catalogues: K.432; M.426
Impressions taken from this plate  (13)


children, dog, hotel, newspaper, people, shop-front, stall, street.


Possible variations in the title are as follows:

Possibly 'Rue de Seine' (1899, ISSPG). 3
'The Newspaper Stall' (1903, Obach's). 4
'A la parte du cabaret' (1907, V&A). 5
'Newspaper-stall, Rue de Seine' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 6

The title recorded by the V&A may be an incorrect transcription, and should perhaps read 'À la porte du cabaret'; however, neither title is confirmed, and the record dates from after Whistler's death (although a former owner may have had good reason for the title).

'Rue de Seine' is the earliest recorded title but to avoid confusion with Antony's Print Shop, Rue de Seine [477], Mansfield's title 'Newspaper-stall, Rue de Seine' is preferred.

3: London ISSPG 1899 (cat. no. 432).

4: London Obach 1903 (cat. no. 245).

5: Acquisition ledger, Victoria and Albert Museum.

6: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 426).


The ground storey of a street in Paris, drawn parallel to the rectangular plate. At front left is a tall, skinny dog. Behind the dog, two women, one with a basket, stand by a street stall on the corner of an alley that leads to a doorway, in which a woman stands, hands on hips. Above the stall an open shutter advertises the Hotel du Rome. In the centre a woman with two small children and a boy stand in front of a wall covered in posters advertising journals. To right of them a man leans down to make a purchase from a small figure at a counter opening onto the street. Two women stand talking in the dark entrance of the news-vendor's premises. The door opens to right, and Whistler's butterfly signature is placed there, at upper right. At the far right is another dark door.
The inscriptions on the sign boards are difficult to read: the sign at top centre reads '[H]OTEL / [D]E / [RO]ME' and under this, partial descriptions of the accommodation and facilities are visible: […]EMENTS / HAM[…] / […]MEUBLE[…]'. The titles of journals and newspapers in the newspaper shop window include 'GIL BLAS' but the others are not clear; they may read '[...]LPRI' and '[...]ABU[...]'.


The Rue de Seine is in the Latin Quarter of Paris, France. The area was the site of several etchings by Whistler, including Antony's Print Shop, Rue de Seine [477].
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) had lived in the Rue de Seine. Whistler's old friend Charles L. Drouet (1836-1908), model for C. L. Drouet, Sculptor [35], lived in the same street, and another acquaintance, the writer Royal Cortissoz, lived at No. 66. Lemercier's, who printed some of Whistler's etchings, had their premises in the rue de Seine. As a result Whistler was frequently in the area in the early 1890s.
Rodolphe Salis, founder of the cabaret Le chat noir, stayed at the Hotel de Rome, beside the newspaper-stall. Le chat noir was first established at No. 84 Boulevard de Rochechouart; it then moved to No. 12 Rue de Laval (now Rue Victor-Massé) and finally to No. 68 Boulevard de Clichy. It is possible that a title recorded in 1907, 'A la parte du cabaret' - which possibly should have read 'A la porte du cabaret' (At the door of the cabaret) - associates the etching with this cabaret. 7

7: Acquisition ledger, Victoria and Albert Museum.


Among the posters in Whistler's etching is one for the popular journal Gil Blas, which published the caricatures and drawings of Paris life of Théophile Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923).
There are a series of references to art and popular culture in the etching. For instance, Whistler would have known Salis, and definitely knew about the cabaret Le chat noir, and probably the journal of the same name, as well as Salis's brief-lived journal Le Pierrot, both of which included the series of 'Pierrot' cartoons by Willette (see The Pierrot [450]).
Another friend and patron, the writer Royal Cortissoz, who lived at 66 Rue de Seine, bought a number of Whistler's Paris lithographs, but for some reason Whistler refused him some favour (it is not clear what this was). E.G. Kennedy wrote:
'Little Cortissoz is ... going to publish a book in Paris I hear. He won't call on you as you turned him down. / This was a mistake, but he is a very, in fact an unusually nice chap, and as you know, bears no malice.' 8

8: Whistler to Wunderlich, 29 July - 11 October 1894, GUW #13061; Kennedy to Whistler, 30 August 1895, #07257.

At this time Whistler was undoubtedly preparing a group of etchings of Paris for sale, exhibition or publication, and it is possible that Cortissoz's plan for publishing a book was related to this.