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Sunflowers, Marché St Germain, Paris

Impression: Hunterian Art Gallery
Hunterian Art Gallery
Number: 437
Date: 1888/1893
Medium: etching
Size: 223 x 282 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper centre
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 5
Catalogues: K.422; M.417; W.258
Impressions taken from this plate  (5)


arch, children, flower, fruit, people, shop, stall, streetscape, vegetables.


Whistler's original title is not known. Variations on the title are few, mainly minor changes in spelling and punctuation, as seen in the following examples:

Possibly 'St Germain' (1887/1888, Whistler). 1
Possibly 'St Germain' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 2
'Sun Flowers, Rue des Beaux Arts, Paris' (1898, Wunderlich's). 3
'The Marché St. Germain' (1903, Whistler). 4
'Sunflowers, Rue des Beaux Arts, Paris' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 5
'Sunflowers, Rue des Beaux-Arts' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 6
'Sunflowers, Marché St Germain, Paris' (2011, Whistler Etching Project).

The scene appears to show the Marché St Germain rather than the Rue des Beaux Arts, and so 'Sunflowers, Marché St Germain, Paris' is the preferred title, combining elements of the recorded titles.

1: List, [August 1887/1888], GUW #13233.

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

3: New York 1898 (cat. no. 291).

4: Invoice, R. B. Philip, as amanuensis for Whistler, to R. Dunthorne, GUW #13042.

5: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.

6: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 417).

In records of the history of this etching, the title 'St Germain' may have caused some confusion with Château Touraine 410.


A row of tall arches supported on square pillars, with shops in each arch. In the lunettes above the two central arches are sunflowers in boxes. In front of the central pillar supporting these arches is a stall, with tiers of baskets filled with fruit and vegetables.
The shop on the left has a high open entrance. Two men stand inside and two women sit to right, one with a baby in her lap. In front, a woman stands with her back turned, lifting a shawl about her shoulders.
The shop on the right has a smaller open door surrounded with windows that are masked by gratings or shutters. A lamp-shade is visible, lighting the dark interior. Inside, to right of the door, a woman sits at a low counter by a window that opens onto the street, serving a small girl. To right stands another girl.
The various shop signs are only partly legible, reading, from left to right, '...SCA...O...TAL' over the door on the left, 'MAISON / ...SON / ...STRIS' on the central pillar, '1801' or '8015' or 'BOIS…' over the door on the right, and 'ATELIER' on a sign on the pillar at right.


Whistler was living at 110 rue du Bac in the Faubourg St Germain in Paris from 1892 until 1901. The original Marché St Germain was built between 1813 and 1820 after designs by Blondell. It was 'a spacious parallelogram' of simple and substantial stone, comprising 22 arcades on the longer sides, opening into a court or market, and 17 on the shorter sides. Each side had five entrances closed by iron gates. The principal entrance was on the Rue du Four. 7

7: Augustus Pugin, Charles Heath, Paris and its Environs Displayed in a series of Picturesque Views, London, 1929, II, pp. 163-4.

It is walking distance from the rue des Beaux Arts, in the 6ième arrondissment, which is a narrow street leading up to the Ecole des Beaux Arts, which runs between the Rue de Seine and the Rue Bonaparte. Whistler's old friend, Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), had his studio at 8 rue des Beaux-Arts; they had known each other since student days.
Whistler made several etchings nearby, including Antony's Print Shop, Rue de Seine 477 and Newspaper-Stall, Rue de Seine 474.