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The Little Nurse, Grays Inn

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 286
Date: 1887
Medium: etching
Size: 133 x 97 mm
Signed: butterfly at left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 8
Catalogues: K.302; M.297
Impressions taken from this plate  (8)


baby, children, garden, girl, Inns of Court, knitting, nurse, park.


Variations on the title are as follows:

'The Little Nurse, Grays Inn' (1887, Whistler). 2
'The little nurse' (1887/1888, Whistler). 3
'The little Nurse' (1888, Les XX). 4
'Little Nurse Grays Inn' (1890/1891, Whistler). 5
'The Little Nurse-maid' (1898, Wunderlich's). 6
'The Little Nurse, Gray’s Inn' (1900, Caxton Club). 7
'The Little Nursemaid' (1902, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 8
'The Little Nurse' (1910, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 9

'The Little Nurse, Gray's Inn' is the definitive title as used by Whistler.

2: Written on .

3: List, [1887/1888], GUW #13233.

4: Brussels 1888 (cat. no. 8).

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

6: New York 1898 (cat. no. 283).

7: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. E241a).

8: Kennedy 1902[more] (cat. no. 307).

9: Kennedy 1910[more] (cat. no. 302).


A young girl stands on the left, facing the viewer. To her right is a toddler, also facing front, and to right, another, facing away. The girl's hair is gathered in behind her neck, under a broad-brimmed hat. She wears a short skirt with layers of frills, a dark blouse with elbow-length sleeves and a high neck, and short boots. She holds something in her hands, possibly knitting (there appear to be short needles, and a thread running over her arm and down her skirt at left). The first toddler wears a buttoned coat, with a big collar or bib, and a floppy beret or bonnet; the second has a small bonnet and a coat with a large collar or hood.


Gray's Inn, London. Gray's Inn was a sheltered precinct in the city of London, where members of the legal profession had rooms. The walks and grounds were popular with nursemaids and mothers with children, and were comparatively safe and secluded.


The title suggests that the girl is acting like an older woman, a nanny or nursemaid (not a medical nurse), in charge of the toddlers. Her dress is not a uniform, and shows that she is still a child herself.