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Balcony, Amsterdam

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 446
Date: 1889
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 272 x 169 mm
Signed: butterfly at right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 4
Known impressions: 27
Catalogues: K.405; M.404; W.262
Impressions taken from this plate  (27)


balcony, building, canal, children, façade, house, laundry, people.


Variations on the title are as follows:

'Balcony Amsterdam' (1890/1891, Whistler). 1
'Balcony, Amsterdam' (1899, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 2
'The Balcony [Amsterdam] ' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 3
'The Balcony, Amsterdam' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 4

'Balcony, Amsterdam' is the generally accepted title.

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

2: Wedmore 1899[more] (cat. no. 262).

3: List, [1890/1892], GUW #12715.

4: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 404).


A view across a canal to the lower two storeys of a row of houses. In the narrow central house, on the ground floor, a woman sits in a shadowed archway opening onto the canal. She looks up at a man standing to the right. Above them a woman holding a child stands in a narrow doorway which opens onto a balcony with an iron framework. They are talking to a woman wearing a hat, who sits on the balcony in front of a curtained window, to right. Above them, clothes hang on a pole strung below the second floor windows. Windows are sketched roughly on the buildings on each side of the central house; the figures and buildings are reflected in the canal.


The city of Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. Both The Pierrot 450 and Balcony, Amsterdam were done on the Oudezijds Achterburgwal, then known as Rottenest. The store fronts are part of the back of the Zeedijk, the Balcony, Amsterdam being No. 48 and Pierrot at No. 52. 5

5: Heijbroek 1997[more], pp. 70, 74.

This subject became popular with artists, particularly among admirers of Whistler's work. In 1892 David Young Cameron (1865-1945) followed in Whistler's footsteps and etched both buildings in one etching, No. 12 in his North Holland Set. T. F. Simon (1877-1943) showed No. 48, including the balcony, in an etching and aquatint, and Willem Witsen (1850-1923) painted it in a watercolour (Centraal Museum, Utrecht) around 1900. 6

6: ibid, pp. 71, 74 figs. 95, 96.


Balconies star in several of Whistler's etchings, particularly The Balcony 202 and The Spanish Balcony: Pigeons 407. The figures in Balcony, Amsterdam interact with a certain grace reminiscent of the figures on the Venetian Balcony. The standing man is mysteriously lost in shadow - a tantalising device seen in several of Whistler's etchings, such as Fruit Stall 225. The stage-like setting is also comparable to another Amsterdam subject, The Pierrot 450.