Home > The Catalogue > Browse > Subjects > Etchings > Etching

Hôtel de la Croix Blanche

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 395
Date: 1888
Medium: etching
Size: 177 x 126 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 3
Catalogues: K.373; M.373
Impressions taken from this plate  (3)


architecture, chicken, hotel, people, turkey, Renaissance architecture.


There are minor variations on the title, as follows:

'The Hotel' or 'Hotel Kitchen' (1887/1888, Whistler). 1
'Hotel x Blanche' (1889, Whistler). 2
'The Hotel Croix Blanche' (1889, Whistler). 3
'Hotel Croix Blanche, Tours' (1902, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 4
'Hôtel Croix Blanche, Tours' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 5
'Hôtel de la Croix Blanche' (2011, Whistler Etchings Project).

The new title, 'Hôtel de la Croix Blanche' is based on Whistler's shorter versions of the title, as well as the known name of the building. It was not actually in Tours.

1: List, GUW #13233.

2: List, 18 July 1889, GUW #13235.

3: Whistler to Dowdeswell's, 21 January 1889, GUW #13030.

4: Kennedy 1902[more] (cat. no. 321).

5: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 373).


Three storeys of a substantial building are seen across a cobbled courtyard. In the courtyard there is a man carrying a bucket, at right, the faint image of a woman to his left, and a flock of domestic fowl. Three open doorways lead into the building, the central one giving access to a polygonal tower, which itself appears to lead to a projecting balcony at left. Above the tower door are two narrow windows, one high above the other, suggesting that there is a spiral staircase within; projecting in front is a lantern. Foliage extends to the tower at upper left. Over the door on the left is a window, possibly with an iron grille or balcony. There is a small skylight over the door at right, and a many-paned window to right of it. Above this, on the first floor, is a tall many-paned window, slightly open, with carved stone frame. There are other small windows at far left and upper right, to right of the tower.


The Hôtel de la Croix Blanche was an inn in the small town of Fontevrault, France. The white cross was the symbol of the kings of France, just as a red cross was that of English kings. The Hôtel was near the 11th century Abbey of Fontevrault, burial place of the early Plantagenet kings. 6 The entrance was across the square near the inn. An octagonal tower, La Tour d'Evrault, rose above the monastery buildings. The abbey had been converted into a prison but was open for viewing by appointment.

6: John Murray, A Handbook for Travellers in France, London, 1875, 13th ed., part 1, p. 219.

Fontevrault is on the Viennes, a tributary of the Loire. It is near Saumur, between Angers and Tours. A tram made the short journey from Saumur to Fontevrault along the left bank of the Loire. Whistler was probably staying in Tours at the time, and that is why the title 'Hôtel Croix Blanche, Tours' was mistakenly given to this etching by some cataloguers.