Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Etching

House of the Swan, Brussels

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 337
Date: 1887
Medium: etching
Size: 178 x 66 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower centre
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 2
Catalogues: K.363; M.360
Impressions taken from this plate  (2)


architecture, Baroque, bird, building, children, city, façade, people, sculpture.


Variations on the title are as follows:

'House of the Swan' (1887, Whistler). 1
'The Swan House' (1887/1888, Whistler). 2
'House of the Swan, Brussels' (1886, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 3
'House of the Swan - Brussells // Swan House Brussells' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 4
'House of the Swan, Brussels' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 5

The title 'House of the Swan, Brussels', is based on the titles used by Whistler and his wife and accepted by later cataloguers.

1: Whistler to T. McLean, GUW #13016.

2: List, [1887/1888], GUW #13233.

3: Kennedy 1902 (cat. no. 349).

4: List, [1890/1892], GUW #12715.

5: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 360).


Curved steps, with an iron railing on the right, lead to the open doorway of a narrow stone-built house. Only three storeys are visible. Over the door is an elaborate stone carving of a swan; above this is a window with four panes, and above that, a carved stone balcony fronting a tall curtained window. There are windows either side of the central feature, on all three storeys. Figures are seen within the doorway, someone is sitting on the steps, and women and children pass by on the pavement.


The Grand'Place, the main square in Brussels, capital of Belgium. The etching shows no. 9, Grand'Place, known as 'La Cygne' or 'de Zwarne' ('The Swan', completed in 1698), on the south side of the Place.
Comparative image
Photograph© G. Petri, Whistler Etchings Project, 2010.
Two years before Whistler chose it as his subject, the house witnessed the founding of the Belgian Labour Party.