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St James Street decorated with bunting

Impression: Whistler Etchings Project
Whistler Etchings Project
Number: 326
Date: 1887/1888
Medium: etching
Size: 133 x 98 mm
Signed: butterfly at left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 1
Catalogues: K.-; M.-; T.-; W.-
Impressions taken from this plate  (1)


animal, bunting, cart, flags, horse, jubilee, people, street.


The following titles are associated with this etching:

Possibly 'St James Street' (1887/1888, Whistler). 1
'A decorated street' (1903/1935?, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 2
'St James Street decorated with bunting' (2011, Whistler Etching Project).

It is not absolutely certain that the title 'St James Street' recorded by Whistler refers to this etching but it certainly was an etching of the same size and date, and it seems most likely that it refers to this etching. The descriptive title listed by the Hunterian Art Gallery may have been recorded originally by Whistler's sister-in-law Miss Birnie Philip, or have been assigned when the copper plate was given by her to the University of Glasgow. To avoid confusion with an etching of similar name, St James's Street 178, a revised title is suggested, namely 'St James Street decorated with bunting'.

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

2: Museum records, Hunterian Art Gallery.


A street of two- and three-storey houses recedes to left up a slight hill. At left there appears to be a pillared entrance. In the distance there seems to be scaffolding or beams supporting overhanging balconies or building work on the right. Strings of bunting, including an American flag and a Union Jack, hang across the street. The street is busy with people, carts, and horses.


This is probably a London subject, but whether it showed St James's Street in central London or or perhaps a view of St James's Street from one of the side streets is not known. Whistler had etched St James's Street 178 in 1878. A major procession to celebrate Queen Victoria's Jubilee passed through St James's on 12 August 1887.
It is also possible that it was St James's Place in Houndsditch or another St James or St James's elsewhere. Whistler did etch St James's Park 250 and St James's Place, Houndsditch 255 in 1887.
Furthermore, some of the figures and animals look rather rustic, and it is possible that the scene is a market day or festival, elsewhere in southern England.