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

Hôtel Lallement, Bourges

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 396
Date: 1888
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 165 x 271 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 7
Catalogues: K.399; M.398
Impressions taken from this plate  (7)


architecture, building, children, courtyard, door, hen, mother, Renaissance architecture, sculpture, woman standing.


Whistler was apparently unclear about the spelling of the building.
Variations in the title, including spelling mistakes, are as follows:

'Hotel Allement' (1888, Whistler). 2
'Hotel Alimant, Bourges' and 'Hotel Alemaunt' (1888-1891, Whistler). 3

'Hotel Lallement, Bourges' (1893, Chicago). 4
'Hotel Allement' (1899, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 5
'Hotel Allemand, Bourges' (1900, Caxton Club). 6
'Hôtel Lallement, Bourges' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 7

'Hôtel Lallemant, Bourges' is the preferred title, with corrected spelling.
The Caxton title is incorrect (presumably they thought it was a German hotel).

2: Written on .

3: Lists, [1887/1888], 18 July 1889, [1890/1891], GUW #13233, #13235, #13236.

4: Chicago 1893 (cat. no. 2261).

5: Wedmore 1899[more] (cat. no. 331).

6: Chicago 1900 (cat. no. 295).

7: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 398).


A woman carrying a small child is standing in a paved courtyard. To left, behind her, a little girl is standing by a bench against the wall. On the right, steps lead to an arched doorway. Over this is a portrait-medallion, and a double window with richly carved surround. High on the wall at left are three larger portrait-medallions and traces of an arched doorway that has been filled in. In the corner to right is the elaborately decorated base of an oriel window, with the figure of a fool carved in the base.


Bourges is a historic town on the Yèvre river in central France. The 15th century Hôtel Lallemant, a magnificent Renaissance building, dating from 1497-1506, now houses the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Whistler's view shows the cour d'honneur. The roundels contain terracotta heads of Roman emperors, comparable to Giuliano da Majano's heads at Sutton Court in Surrey, UK. 8

Karl Baedeker's Southern France from the Loire to the Spanish and Italian Frontiers including Corsica: Handbook for Travellers reported in 1891:

8: Paul Vitry, Tours et les chateaux de Touraine, Paris, 1907, pp. 320-321; Michel Bulteau, L'Hotel Lallemant de Bourges. Historique et symbolique d'une demeure a l'antique, Paris, 1984, pl. 2, pp. 79-82.

'Bourges still retains a considerable number of old houses; e. g., in the Rue des Toiles and the Rue Mirebeau, ... To the right from the Rue Coursalon, a little farther on, diverges a street in which is the Hotel Lallement, a curious building. Renaissance in style on the side facing the court. It is occupied as a religious house, but visitors are admitted on contributing to the alms-box.'


It is possible that Whistler knew the 1853 etching La Rue des Toiles, à Bourges by Charles Méryon (1821-1868). 9 However, Meryon's etching is a detailed, rather fussy, view of a street of old houses with dramatic lighting, very different from Whistler's selective approach, which focuses on the decorative architecture and sculpture of a single building.

9: Etching and drypoint, Delteil 55, Schneiderman 31.

Whistler, who had etched timbered buildings in several etchings including Speke Hall: The Avenue 101 and Wych Street, London 176, etched mediaeval, Renaissance and Baroque buildings in Lorraine, eventually focussing on the 'Renaissance Set', of which this is a particularly gorgeous and decorative example.