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Notre-Dame, Bourges

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 402
Date: 1888
Medium: etching
Size: 219 x 130 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 2
Catalogues: K.402; M.401
Impressions taken from this plate  (2)


architecture, building, church, door, people, Renaissance architecture, sculpture, street.


There are only a couple of minor variations on the title, as follows:

'Notre Dame - Bourges (French Plates) ' (1887/1888, Whistler). 1
'Notre-Dame, Bourges' (1888, Whistler). 2
'Notre-Dame, Bourges' (1904, Boston). 3
'Notre Dame, Bourges' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 4

'Notre-Dame, Bourges' is the preferred title.

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

2: Whistler to Messrs Dowdeswell, 10 December 1888, GUW #13029.

3: Boston 1904 (cat. no. 227).

4: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 401).


A cobbled street, with several women and children walking along, runs from the foreground in a curve to right around the side of a church. Several buildings are visible in the distance. Figures cluster at the open door of the church. To left of the door is an elaborate stained glass window with a pointed top. The door itself is framed by pillars, under a small semi-circular lunette, and above this is an elaborate pointed arch with a sculptured figure and a window with small diamond-shaped panes. Above this rises a Renaissance structure with supporting columns, built out from the steep roof. Rising from the roof at the right is a small spire, with the larger tower just visible behind it, to left.


Bourges is a historic town in the Centre region of France, southwest of Tours, noted for its Gothic cathedral of Saint-Etienne and fine Renaissance buildings.

This etching shows the side door of the church of Notre-Dame (originally Saint-Pierre-Le-Marche). The church was built in the 15th century, burnt down in 1487, and rebuilt in the early 16th century.

The tower (which rises behind the pointed spire to the right in Whistler's etching) was constructed in 1525, and is attributed to Guillaume Pellevoysin. The side door was restored and decorated by the sculptors Michel Legendre and Claude Bellorier in 1640. 5

5: See Abbé Barreau, Guide du Voyager dans la Ville de Bourges avec description detaillee de la Cathedrale et des vitraux, Bourges, 1880, pp. 132-3; A . Buhot de Kersers, Histoire et statistique monumentale de Departement du Cher, II, Bourges, 1883, pp. 200-05, pl. XVIII. Abbé André Girard, L'eglise Notre Dame de Bourges anciennement Saint -Pierre-le-Marche. Son histoire, son description ses cures, Paris, 1933, pp. 37-8, pl. ii, iv.