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Doorway, Gray's Inn

Impression: Colby College Museum of Art, Maine
Colby College Museum of Art, Maine
Number: 289
Date: 1887
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 96 x 134 mm
Signed: butterfly at left
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 3
Known impressions: 2
Catalogues: K.300; M.294
Impressions taken from this plate  (2)


architecture, baby, building, children, door, garden, Inns of Court, people, tree.


The very minor variations in titles are as follows:

'Doorway Grays Inn' (1887/1888, Whistler). 2
'Greys. Inn - The Doorway' (1890/1892, Beatrice Whistler (1857-1896)). 3
'Doorway, Gray's Inn' (1909, Howard Mansfield (1849-1938)). 4

Mansfield's version, 'Doorway, Gray's Inn', which includes punctuation, is based on Whistler's original title, and is therefore preferred.

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

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

4: Mansfield 1909[more] (cat. no. 294).


In the foreground is a lawn, looking across to a tall doorway flanked by pillars and surmounted by a semi-circular broken pediment, with a globe on a pedestal in the centre. Two storeys of the building are visible, drawn parallel to the edges of the plate, but only some of the windows are defined (three to left of the door and two to right, at ground level; one above the door and two to right, on the upper storey; plus the tops of windows showing, one to left and one to right of the door, at cellar level). Beyond the pillars a flight of six steps leads to a wooden door with a semi-circular lunette. There is a tree on the left, near the building, and one on the right, further from the building. The architectural composition is aligned parallel to the edges of the rectangular copper plate. In front of the doorway a baby (or possibly more than one child) is playing on the grass. In the left foreground, two women sit on a bench, one reading, facing the viewer, with a little girl to right, standing facing them.


Etching: c_K300_01
Photo © M.F. MacDonald, Whistler Etchings Project, 2011.
Gray's Inn was a sheltered precinct in the city of London, where members of the legal profession had rooms. 1 Gray's Inn Square is one of the longest established Barristers' Chambers in Gray's Inn. This view of the south side of the square was taken from the gardens. The walks and grounds were popular with nursemaids and mothers with children. This probably shows 3 Field Court, which has been radically restored; the cellar windows have been filled in.


This is an impressionistic view. The composition is asymmetrical, with the seat at left and tree at right cut off by the sides of the plate. A sense of order is imposed by the lawn and building being parallel to the edge of the plate. Flickering, broken dots, dashes and curves convey a feeling of sunshine; the spaces between objects and the incomplete, vignetted view, suggest light and space.