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Petite Rue des Bouchers

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 342
Date: 1887
Medium: etching
Size: 185 x 84 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 1
Catalogues: K.367; M.364
Impressions taken from this plate  (1)


building, butcher, people, shop, street.


Variations on the title are as follows:

'Petite Rue des Bouchers' (1888, Whistler). 1
'Butchers St' (1890/1891, Whistler). 2
'Butchers Street Brussells' [sic] (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 3
'Street, Brussels' (1902, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 4
'Little Butter Street, Brussels' [sic] (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 5

'Petite Rue des Bouchers' is Whistler's original title and is therefore accepted.

The title has been a source of confusion, because 'Little Butcher Street', the English translation of 'Petite Rue des Bouchers', is very close to 'Little Butter Street', which is another nearby street in Brussels, etched by Whistler as Petite Rue au Beurre, Brussels [341].

1: Whistler to H. Wunderlich & Co., 3 May 1888, GUW #13051; Wunderlich's stock book, 1888, a14414.

2: List, [1890/1891], GUW #13236.

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

4: Kennedy 1902 (cat. no. 353); H. Wunderlich's stock book, 1903, a37567.

5: Mansfield 1909 (cat. no. 364).

Mansfield appears to have confused the two etchings, saying that 'Little Butter Street, Brussels' was written on an impression of Petite Rue des Bouchers. 6

6: Ibid.


A narrow cobbled street, lined with five- and six-storey buildings, ends at a cross-street. There is a poster on the wall at left, and, further away, a lantern projecting from the wall and a small flagpole sticking out at an angle. In the middle distance, women and children are seen on the pavements and in the street. At the far side of the cross street is a four-storey building with stepped gable, to right of which an arched doorway of another gabled building is visible. A frame for telegraph wires is visible on the roof of a tall building in the distance.


The 'Little Butcher Street' (Petite rue des Bouchers or Korte Beenhouwersstraat) connects the rue des Bouchers ('Butcher Street') and the Grasmarkt (rue du Marché aux Herbes), near the Grand' Place in Brussels. It is not to be confounded with the nearby 'Little Butter Street' (Korte Boterstraat or Petite rue au Beurre). The etching shows the view along the Petite rue des Bouchers toward 22, rue des Bouchers, the building with the stepped gable.
Comparative image
Photograph©G. Petri, Whistler Etchings Project.


This narrow vertical composition, a vignette of a narrow street, does not reach to the edges of the plate. It is comparable to certain watercolours, such as Street Scene: Loches [m1184], and etchings such as Fleur-de-lis Passage [360].