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St James's Park

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 250
Date: 1885
Medium: etching
Size: 68 x 100 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 5
Catalogues: K.255; M.251; W.207
Impressions taken from this plate  (5)


carriage, children, figure, game, horse, landscape, park, people, tree.


There are several variations in title, as follows:

'A Sketch in St James's Park' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 2
'Park, Sketch in St James'' (1887, Dowdeswell's). 3
'The Park' (1887, Whistler). 4
'In the Park, London' (1898, Wunderlich's). 5
'Battersea Park' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 6
'St James's Park' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 7

Although Whistler's preferred title appears to have been 'The Park', the more specific title used by Mansfield, 'St James's Park' is clearer. The scene is St James's Park, not Battersea, so Miss Birnie Philip was wrong.

2: Wedmore 1886 A[more] (cat. no. 207).

3: Whistler to Dowdeswell, 27 July 1887, GUW #08677.

4: Whistler to T. McLean, 5 October 1887, GUW #13014.

5: New York 1898 (cat. no. 215).

6: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.

7: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 251).


A view of the park, dominated by a tree with wide-spreading branches in full leaf, casting shadows on the broad trunk. Behind it, to left, is a two-storey house with a balcony, and to right, in the distance, trees and a fence. To right of the tree, and heading to right and away from the viewer, are a couple in an open horse-drawn carriage, with two coachmen in top hats on the box. Other carriages and people - some with parasols - are seen in the distance, to left and right. At far right are several women and children, including a girl with a hoop.


St James's Park is described in Dickens's Dictionary of London:
'St James’s Park joins the southeast corner of the Green-park, and is little more than an enclosed garden, nearly half of which is occupied by a shallow piece of ornamental water, ... The Mall, a broad walk planted with elms, limes, and planes, runs along the north side ... On the east side is the parade-ground of the Horse Guards ... One of the oddest sights in London is afforded by the colony of gingerbread and sweetstuff stalls in the north-east corner of the park, at the back of Carlton House-terrace. There is a large consumption of curds and whey, and of milk fresh from the cow, at these primitive restaurants, and the cows which are tethered to the stalls give an air of reality to the promises of their proprietors.' 8
Views of St James's Park tend to include the surrounding buildings that distinguish it from other sites. An etching by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677), Summer (1644), shows a woman in profile against a background view of St James's Park looking towards Whitehall; this was in the collection at the British Museum Print Room by 1850. 9 Whistler would also have known Thomas Gainsborough's painting The Mall in St James's Park (1783, The Frick Collection) - exhibited in the Royal Acemy in 1876 - with its vista of shimmering silk and muslin-clad women and excited dogs, strolling on the walks under the mature trees.

9: 1850,0223.432. See research/ search_the_collection_database


Whistler etched several of the London parks, and later the Paris parks. In London he etched Greenwich Pensioner 040, Greenwich Park 041, Gray's Inn Place 281, The Young Tree 285, The Steps, Gray's Inn 282 and The Long Seats, Gray's Inn 283. Paris views included Balustrade, Luxembourg Gardens 465, The Band, Luxembourg Gardens 466, The Pantheon from the Terrace, Luxembourg Gardens 473, Café Luxembourg 436, Polichinelle, Jardin du Luxembourg 467, The Little Terrace, Luxembourg Gardens, No. 2 444, Little Terrace, Luxembourg Gardens 443, Bébés, Jardin du Luxembourg 463 and Under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens 464.