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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)


building, children, shop, people, streetscape.


There are more variations on the title than there are impressions of this etching, examples being as follows:

'Little Butter Street Brussels' (1887, Whistler). 1
'Rue au beurre' (1887/1888, Whistler). 2
'Butter Street - Brussels' (1888, Whistler). 3
'Butler Street, Brussels' [sic] (1898, Wunderlich's). 4
'Butler Street' [sic] (1902, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 5
'Butter Street, Brussels' (1905, ISSPG). 6

'Butter Street, Brussels' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 7
'Butter Street' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 8

In sales records Whistler usually called this Butter Street although the street was actually the Petite Rue au Beurre or Korte Boterstraat. While Whistler's original title is an accurate translation, the correct 'Petite Rue au Beurre, Brussels' is preferred.

The title can be confused with that of a similar subject, Petite Rue des Bouchers [342].

1: To T. McLean, 21 December 1887, GUW #13017.

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

3: Whistler to Wunderlich's, 29 June 1888, GUW #13052.

4: New York 1898 (cat. no. 248).

5: Kennedy 1902 (cat. no. 348).

6: New York 1904a (cat. no. 388).

7: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 363).

8: Kennedy 1910 (cat. no. 364).


A view across a street to a row of shops. The street appears to be cobbled, and is receding to left. In the foreground at left two children hurry down the street. A few passers-by stroll along the pavement behind them, also at left. The shop at far left is in a three-storey building. To right of the shop is a closed door with a window above it and a window box supporting plants in pots in front of the first floor windows. The adjacent building has two storeys, with dormer windows in the roof. In the centre is a big shop window with 4x4 panes, and to right of that is another door not completely drawn in, which has an iron grating over it.


Comparative image
Photograph© G. Petri, Whistler Etchings Project, 2010.
The Petite Rue au Beurre is in Brussels, capital city of Belgium. These shop fronts are built against the south walls of the church of St Nicholas, where Whistler etched The Church - Brussels (Adoration) [340]. The Petite Rue au Beurre runs from the Rue au Beurre to the Rue du Marché aux Herbes or Grasmarkt. Whistler was standing close to the corner of the Rue au Beurre and the Petite Rue au Beurre.


This is unusual in having the street shown at an angle to the edge of the plate, rather than parallel to the edges.