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Under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens

Impression: Whistler Etchings Project
Whistler Etchings Project
Number: 464
Date: 1892/1894
Medium: etching
Size: 162 x 124 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 1
Catalogues: K.-; M.-; T.-; W.-
Impressions taken from this plate  (1)


park, people, statue, tree, woman seated.


Whistler's original title is not known. This is the only recorded title:

'Under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 2

The title may have had Whistler's approval because Miss Birnie Philip sorted his copper plates at his request in 1901. 3 However, it might have been written later, when the plates were sorted after Whistler's death in 1903, or when they were given to the University of Glasgow in 1935.

The subject and title are similar to two lithographs, Conversation under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens c069 and The Statue, Luxembourg Gardens c095, and a drawing, Statue in Luxembourg Gardens m1400.

2: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.

3: Whistler to R.B. Philip, 27 January [1901], GUW #04787.


In the centre, two women sit in front of a plinth on which is a tall, columnar statue of a draped woman with bent head. To right is another plinth, with a chair in front, and to left, two women are seated beside a stone wall with urns on it. Behind these there are trees in full leaf.


The woman facing the viewer (and the artist) at lower right of the plinth resembles Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896), as seen in the lithograph Beatrix Whistler c080, which may have been drawn in 1893, but which - like this etching - was not printed in Whistler's lifetime.


The Luxembourg Gardens (Jardin du Luxembourg) is a large public park in the 6th arrondissement of Paris, France. It was not far from Whistler's house at 110 rue du Bac.

The statues represented by Whistler include a bowl supported by putti (cherubs), and the statue of Marie de Medici (for whom the Palais du Luxembourg was built). 4

Whistler made several more etchings of the gardens, The Band, Luxembourg Gardens 466, and Polichinelle, Jardin du Luxembourg 467.

4: Charles Zito and Claude Mary, Le Guide du jardin du Luxembourg, Lyons, 1994, pp. 42-3, 48-52 , 59-63. See also Sénat official website at visite/ jardin/statues.html (accessed 2011).

Etching: c_E18_01
He also drew three lithographs there, possibly in October 1893, including The Steps, Luxembourg c068, reproduced above, Conversation under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens c069 (below) and The Pantheon, from the terrace of the Luxembourg Gardens c070. He sent these to T. R. Way in November, complaining, 'The three little Luxembourg gardens I could have done more with under better conditions - ' 5 The lithographs show some leaves still on the trees, and it was warm enough for woman to sit out in the park without their winter furs and coats.

The September average temperature in Paris in 1893 was 14.8 degrees, and in October, 10.9 degrees, but November was colder (a low of 4.10 degrees, with a maximum of 15.7 degrees). 6

5: Whistler to T. R. Way, [15 November 1893], GUW #03348.

6: Weather websites: klima/tparisl.html and PARIStxx.html (acc. 2011).

Etching: c_E18_02
Whistler followed up with Nursemaids: 'Les Bonnes du Luxembourg' c081 and The Terrace, Luxembourg c087 in 1894. In addition he made two drawings on lithographic paper that were not transferred to stone and printed, Seated woman in Luxembourg Gardens m1401 and Statue in Luxembourg Gardens m1400. 7

7: Whistler to T. R. Way, [19 July 1894], GUW #03376.


A number of Luxembourg studies, both in etching and lithography, were never printed during Whistler's lifetime. One lithograph, The Statue, Luxembourg Gardens c095, was printed by Frederick Goulding (1842-1909) after Whistler's death. One possibility is that Whistler could not find a suitable printer, or assistance in printing.

His wife, Beatrice was deeply interested in gardens, designing trellises for their garden and gaining ideas from Paris gardens. 8 They both delighted in the formal gardens of the Luxembourg. In October 1895, Whistler wrote from Paris to his wife, about a book they had bought:

8: B. Whistler, Designs for a trellis for 86 rue Notre Dame des Champs, Paris, 1892/1894, watercolour, Hunterian Art Gallery, GLAHA 46574.

'that most foolish book on Paris gardens - you remember the dreadful person said the beautiful orange boxes of the Tuilleries & the Luxembourg were ugly - and that statues should not be in gardens - because they didn't grow there! -' 9
One reason for Whistler's failure to complete work was the deteriorating state of his wife's health. By November 1894 Beatrice Whistler was ill, and the Whistlers left Paris to seek medical advice in London. She had organised the studio contents and helped to print and sell etchings, and without her management, Whistler's print-making suffered. Whistler was emotionally scarred by Beatrice's death in 1896, and was unable to print images closely associated with her. He also spent far less time in Paris although he kept the house and studio until 1901.