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St James's Street

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
(1892.20)
Number: 178
Date: 1878
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 275 x 155 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left (3-final)
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 36
Catalogues: K.169; M.165; W.140
Impressions taken from this plate  (36)

KEYWORD

building, cab, people, illustration, police, street, streetscape.

TITLE

Only one title is known, though it is sometimes spelt incorrectly. See examples below:


'St James's Street' (1878, Vanity Fair). 5
'St James's Street' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 6
'St James Street' (1898, Wunderlich's). 7


'St James's Street' is the correct, and therefore the preferred title.

5: Vanity Fair, vol. 22, 2 July 1878.

6: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 140).

7: New York 1898 (cat. no. 119).

DESCRIPTION

A view looking down St James's Street, London, with St James's Palace at the bottom of the street. The buildings down the whole length of the street on the right are included, but the left side of the street is only shown from the middle distance. The street is full of pedestrians and horse-drawn cabs, and, at front left, a policeman. It is a sunny day, with the buildings on the left casting shadows across the street.

SITE

The view is St James's Street, London, seen from the terrace of what was then the Albemarle Hotel, with St James's Palace at the bottom of the street.
Etching: c_K169_01
St James's Street, London, 2011.
Photograph M.F.MacDonald, Whistler Etching Project.
The street is one of the main streets in the district of St James's. It was very much a male preserve, and contained several famous gentlemen's clubs, such as Brooks's, the Carlton Club and White's.
St James's Palace was built by Henry VIII, mostly between 1531 and 1536. It was a royal residence for over 300 years although, since the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837, the Sovereign has lived at Buckingham Palace. The Chapel Royal, the gatehouse, and some turrets are among surviving remnants of the original red-brick building.
Since Whistler worked directly on the copper plate, St James's Street as printed showed the actual view in reverse. This printed image was again reversed for reproduction in Vanity Fair so that it looked exactly like the scene. 8

8: Vanity Fair, vol. 22, 2 July 1878.

DISCUSSION

This etching was definitely drawn as an illustration, with the aim of raising money. Other illustrations include The Punt 082, Sketching 083 and Sketch after Cecil Lawson's "Swan and Iris" 247.