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The Temple

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 245
Date: 1880/1881
Medium: etching
Size: 102 x 154 mm
Signed: butterfly at lower left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: 'Second Venice Set', 1886
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 25
Catalogues: K.234; M.231; W.170
Impressions taken from this plate  (25)


building, cart, stable, horse, square, street.


The only variations in the title have been the inclusion or omission of the definite article, as in the following examples:

'Temple' (1886, Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921)). 1
'Temple The' (1890/1891, Whistler). 2
'The Temple' (1886, Walter Dowdeswell (1858-1929)). 3
'Temple' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 4

'The Temple' is based on the title used by Whistler and Dowdeswell. It is not a religious building but the site of two of the Inns of Court in London.

1: Wedmore 1886 A[more], cat. no. 170.

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

3: [June/July 1886?], GUW #08702.

4: Mansfield 1909[more], cat. no. 231.


A broad empty square is backed by three- and four-storey buildings with dormer windows in the steep roofs, and tall chimneys. To right of centre, a street runs into the distance, to right. Towards the left of the square is a cart drawn by two horses, standing by a street lamp. To right, at the corner of the street, is a cart-horse emerging from a shed or stable. All the horses have nose-bags and are eating up their nice oats. In front of the stable at right is a bare tree.


In a draft catalogue of Whistler's etchings, Joseph Pennell (1860-1926) wrote that the view was 'like a corner of King's Bench Walk, Temple.' 5

The Temple is within the boundaries of the City of London, which was bounded on the west by Temple Bar. Whistler had etched Temple Bar 175 some years earlier. 'The Temple' usually refers to two of the four Inns of Court in London, an area under the jurisdiction of the Inner Temple to the east and the Middle Temple to the west. In addition a nineteenth century building called the Outer Temple adjoins Fleet Street. The Inns had central administrative offices, dining halls and gardens in the Temple. There was some residential acccommodation and extensive chambers from which the barristers practised. This area was badly damaged during the blitz in 1944 but has partly been restored and rebuilt.

5: J. Pennell, n.d., draft catalogue (cat. no. 246), Library of Congress, Pennell Collection, Box. 353.