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Regent's Quadrant

Impression: Baltimore Museum of Art
Baltimore Museum of Art
(1996.48.18108)
Number: 242
Date: 1880/1881
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 166 x 122 mm
Signed: butterfly at upper right
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 7
Known impressions: 10
Catalogues: K.239; M.235; W.192
Impressions taken from this plate  (10)

KEYWORD

arch, architecture, carriage, city, colonnade, four-wheeler, hansom-cabs, horse, people, shop, street.

TITLE

There are minor variations in the titles, as follows:


'Regent's Quadrant' (1883, F.A.S.) 2
'Regent Quadrant' (1886, Whistler). 3
'Regents Quadrant' (1887, Whistler). 4
'Regent Street' (1887/1888, Whistler). 5
'The Quadrant; Regent Street' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 6


'Regent's Quadrant' was Whistler's original title and that generally used by Whistler and later cataloguers..

2: London FAS 1883 (cat. no. 22).

3: Whistler to T. McLean, [1 November 1886], GUW #13010.

4: Whistler to Dowdeswell's, 27 July 1887, GUW #08677.

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

6: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.

DESCRIPTION

A busy London street (Regent Street), looking down from an arcade that has a supporting column at the left. In the street are several horse drawn carriages and hansom cabs, and many people. Across the street, which recedes uphill to left, there are shops with tall windows.

SITE

Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921) wrote: 'It is a rapid glance at the Regent's Quadrant, with idlers, wayfarers, and rushing hansoms, seen from beneath the balustrade that crosses Air Street.' 7 Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913) saw Whistler at work on the etching:

7: Wedmore 1886 A [more], cat. no. 192.

'Shortly afterwards he started on the proving of the set of [Venetian] plates for the Fine Art Society, who had taken a first-floor suite of two rooms for him at the north-west corner of Air Street and Regent Street, in the Quadrant over a stationer's shop. The rooms were kept by a Frenchwoman. ... It was not an ideal room for the purpose, being poorly lit in daytime, notwithstanding its large bay window, for it was late in the year (1880). The Society had had it fitted up with a drugget to protect the carpet ... a bench, with gas fittings for the hot plate, etc., and a printing-press. In the spare time I made a little painting of the interior, with Whistler at work, biting a plate, and my father by the window, ... Out of our window you looked under the balustrading which crosses Air Street at part of the Quadrant, and my having made a little pastel of the subject seemed to call Whistler's attention to its possibilities, for he forthwith drew the little plate "Regent's Quadrant."' 8
Joseph Pennell (1860-1926) confirmed that this view of a column and balustrade in Regent's Quadrant 'now torn down' was done from a 'bow window in Air Street'. 9

9: J. Pennell, n.d., draft catalogue (cat. no. 239), Library of Congress, Pennell Collection, Box 353.

DISCUSSION

Although Whistler frequently framed his main subjects in doorways or archways, this assymetrical, trapezoidal composition is less usual.