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Emanuel Hospital


Number: 469
Date: 1892
Medium: etching (?)
Size: 140 x 220 mm
Signed: unknown
Inscribed: unknown
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 0
Catalogues: K.-; M.-; T.-; W.-
Impressions taken from this plate  (0)


architecture, building, garden, man standing.


There is only one contemporary reference by Whistler to this etching, as follows:

'Emanuel Hospital' (1892, Whistler). 7

7: Whistler to W. Heinemann, [October 1892], GUW #10789.


A view of the front of the hospital, a single storey building, on three sides of a garden, with a central tower. An elderly man with a stick stands in the foreground at right.


Dacre's Alms Houses or Emanuel Hospital, Tuthill Street, was established under the will (20 December 1594) of Anne, Lady Dacre, widow of Gregory, the last Lord Dacre of the South, and sister of Thomas Sackville, Lord Buckhurst and Earl of Dorset 'towards the relief of aged people, and bringing up of children in virtue and good and laudable acts in the same Hospital.' The charter of incorporation is dated 17 December 1669. 8 It occupied a site between Victoria Street and Buckingham Palace for 280 years until the building was demolished.

An article in the Times on plans for the area was followed by extensive correspondence objecting to the destruction of the building - which had attractive Queen Anne architectural details, and a central narrow tower - and the two acres of garden. 9 For instance, the Earl of Carlisle wrote that 'the appreciation of this old building is by no means limited to painters and antiquarians, but is felt by the poor who live near it.' 10

The 'Purchasers Architect' described the buildings as dark, insanitary and impractical for the purpose, though having 'archaeological interest' and some attractive architectural details, particularly 'an excellent cornice ... supported by beautifully carved trusses.' 11

The case was taken to the High Court, but eventually the land was sold and the money used for charitable purposes more or less in line with the original intention of Lady Dacre. 12 A plaque on the wall of the St James's Court Hotel in Westminster marks the original site.

Nathaniel Sparks (1880-1956), who printed Whistler's copper plate in 1931, thought it was the Charterhouse, but it definitely represented Emanuel Hospital. 13 Sparks drew two sketches of it (one is reproduced below).

Etching: c_E21_01
Nathaniel Sparks after Whistler, pencil, 1931, whereabouts unknown. 14

There are other images that confirm the identity of the site, including an earlier watercolour by Thomas Hosmer Shepherd (1850), 15 and an 1880s photograph of Emanuel Hospital, Westminster by Henry Dixon (1820-1892). 16

8: Peter Cunningham, Hand-Book of London, 1850.

9: 'Emanuel Hospital, Westminster', Times (London), 6 January 1890, p. 3.

10: Letter dated 28 August 1892, Times (London), 30 August 1892, p. 6.

11: Times (London), 5 September 1892, p. 6.

12: 'High Court of Justice', Times (London), 16 June 1892, p. 7.

13: Note dated 18 June 1931, M. Hopkinson, 'Nathaniel Sparks's Printing of Whistler's Etchings', Print Quarterly, 1999, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 340, 345, 349.

14: ibid.

15: British Museum, 1880.1113.2477 ; (accessed 2012). See also Emanuel School Alumni website at (accessed 2012).

16: British Library (006ZZZ0TAB700B3U00113000 ; Tab.700.b.3) on


This subject was apparently inspired by the impending demolition of the building, and thus was one of a number of etchings of threatened buildings, representing a disappearing London.