Café Luxembourg

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 436
Date: 1888/1893
Medium: etching
Size: 98 x 135 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 1
Catalogues: K.434; M.425
Impressions taken from this plate  (1)


Café Luxembourg was not published.


An etching of this title was exhibited at the first exhibition of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers in 1899, when Whistler was President. 4 Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) lent an impression - the only extant impression - to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K4340102). 5 This is somewhat mysterious because Freer's records say that he only bought it in 1902; did he take it and only receive the invoice later or did he lend another impression or some similar subject, such as The Little Café au Bois [c091]? Freer certainly lent this etching - Café Luxembourg - to the Grolier Club in 1904 and to the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in Boston, also in 1904. 6

4: London ISSPG 1899 (cat. no. 240); See REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

5: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 274).

6: New York 1904a (cat. no. 351); Boston 1904 (cat. no. 232).


Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) owned an impression (Graphic with a link to impression #K4340102). Whistler sold this to him through his sales venue at the Company of the Butterfly in May 1902 for £8.8.0. 7 Curiously, Freer supposedly lent the etching to the Caxton Club in 1900, which suggests he obtained it earlier - or that there is some confusion in the titles, or in Whistler's accounting

It is very surprising that only one impression has been located, given that Whistler appears to have exhibited it in 1899. The very limited print-runs of the late Paris etchings may have been intended by Whistler as a marketing ploy, or may have been coincidental. It is also possible that impressions stored in the Paris studio were lost when it was sold.

7: Whistler to C. L. Freer, [23 March 1900/June 1902], GUW #13883.