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Jews' Quarter, Amsterdam

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 449
Date: 1889
Medium: etching
Size: 132 x 221 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 4
Catalogues: K.415; M.412
Impressions taken from this plate  (4)


barge, boat, building, canal, ghetto, laundry, people, washing.


Variations on the title are as follows:

'Jews Quarter Amsterdam' (1890/1891, Whistler). 1
'Jacobs [Amsterdam]' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 2
'Jew Quarters, Amsterdam' (1898, Wunderlich's). 3
'The Jews Quarter. Amsterdam' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 4
'Jews’ Quarter, Amsterdam' (1902, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 5

'Jews' Quarter, Amsterdam' is the preferred title, based on Whistler's original title. 'Jacobs' is an interesting variation, and it may be that was the name of a shop or property-owner or a generic Jewish name.

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

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

3: New York 1898 (cat. no. 268).

4: Note on envelope containing copper plate, University of Glasgow.

5: Kennedy 1902[more] (cat. no. 357).


A view across a canal to a row of houses, drawn parallel to the edge of the copper plate. At left, a boat is moored to the pavement that stands on wooden piles running along in front of a row of brick houses. Each house has two adjoining doorways approached by steps, with a small skylight and window above each door and a large window with small panes at the side. Below each large window is a door and window into a semi-basement. Washing hangs between two windows at upper left. In the doorways and on the pavement are several figures. The boat, piling and buildings are reflected in the canal.


Shop fronts at Nos. 6-9 on the Nieuwegrachtje, between the Uilenburgergracht and the Valkenburgerstraat, in the city of Amsterdam, capital of the Netherlands. These buildings were torn down and the canal in the foreground, part of the Rapenburg, was filled in. 6

Whistler also painted the double doorway in an oil sketch, The Grey House y385. There are interesting contrasts between the broad brush strokes and patches of fine lines, quite apart from the colour.

6: Heijbroek 1997[more], pp. 63-64, figs. 71, 72, 73.


Shortly before going to Amsterdam Whistler had etched the Jewish shops and shopkeepers of the East End in his 'Houndsditch Set', including Cutler Street, Houndsditch 361 and Clothes-Exchange, Houndsditch. No. 2 359.