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Petite Rue au Beurre, Brussels

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 341
Date: 1887
Medium: etching
Size: 135 x 99 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 3
Catalogues: K.364; M.363
Impressions taken from this plate  (3)


Petite Rue au Beurre, Brussels was not published officially, but is related to a 'Brussels Set'.


It was rare and not often exhibited. It was first shown by the print dealers H. Wunderlich & Co. in New York in 1898. 10 An impression - possibly the same one - was lent by Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) to the exhibition organised by the Caxton Club in Chicago in 1900 (Graphic with a link to impression #K3640102). 11 Obach & Co. showed an impression in London in 1903.

After Whistler's death, impressions were shown at the Grolier Club in New York in 1904 and in the London Memorial Exhibition of 1905. It is not clear if these were multiple exhibitions of the few known impressions or if more impressions of this etching have yet to be located. Nor is it always clear if it is actually this etching that was exhibited. The Grolier Club, for instance, exhibited both a 'Butter Street, Brussels' and a 'Little Butter Street, Brussels'. 12

10: New York 1898 (cat. no. 248); see REFERENCES: EXHIBITIONS.

11: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 283).

12: New York 1904a (cat. no. 388); London Mem. 1905 (cat. no. 348).


The price of Petite Rue au Beurre, Brussels seems to have varied. Whistler sold an impression as 'Little Butter Street Brussels' to the London print dealer, Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832) on 21 December 1887 for £8.8.0. 13

13: GUW #13017.

In other records an etching called 'Butter Street - Brussels' was listed as sold at a much higher price - £12.12.0 - raising the possibility that these are not records of the same etching. This is true of sales by Whistler to H. Wunderlich & Co. on 29 June 1888 and to the Fine Art Society, London on 18 December 1888. 14

14: GUW #13052; #12999.

However, Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919) definitely bought an impression of Petite Rue au Beurre, Brussels from Wunderlich's on 30 July 1888, and helps to confirm the change of title and price (Graphic with a link to impression #K3640103). Bryan Lathrop (1844-1916) also acquired an impression, which he owned by 1900, but exactly when and where he bought it is not known (Graphic with a link to impression #K3640102).
There is distinct risk of confusion between etchings with comparable titles ('Butter' and 'Butcher' for instance), and it is not certain that the history of these etchings is complete.