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Boulevard Poissonière, Paris

Impression: Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago
Number: 483
Date: 1897
Medium: etching
Size: 159 x 232 mm
Signed: no
Inscribed: no
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 1
Known impressions: 3
Catalogues: K.423; M.418
Impressions taken from this plate  (3)


man seated, people, shop, square, street, tree.


Two different titles were used for this etching, as follows:

'Boulevard Bonnes Nouvelles' (1897, Whistler). 4
'Boulevard Poissonière, Paris' (1900, Wunderlich's). 5
'Boulevard Poissonière' (1902, Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932)). 6
'Boulevard Poissonière, Paris' (1903/1935, possibly Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958)). 7

Since the view does actually show the 'Boulevard Poissonière, Paris', the title used by Wunderlich's and Miss Birnie Philip has been accepted.

4: 19-29 May 1897, GUW #13034.

5: Wunderlich's to Whistler, 16 April 1901, GUW #07330.

6: Kennedy 1902 [more] (cat. no. 315).

7: Envelope containing copper plate, Hunterian Art Gallery.


Five men are seated - mostly sleeping - in the sun on a double bench by a boulevard lined with trees. There are two trees in full leaf to left of them, and several more on the far side of the boulevard. Across the boulevard, at the right, is a row of shops, some with awnings, with the first floor windows, some with louvred shutters, indicated above a long balcony. At the left, beyond a narrow street, is a large building with round-arched windows and a broad awning. Some people are seated on a bench under the farther trees, and others are standing or walking on the pavement in the background.


The etching shows 7 and 9 Boulevard Poissonière, which now (2010) houses a Starbuck's Coffee and the Pizzeria Valponi. No. 9 is recognisable from the row of arches above the awning. Whistler etched this from the north side of the boulevard. The Boulevard de Bonne-Nouvelle crosses the Boulevard Poissonière, which accounts for the early title of this etching. Whistler dined with Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932) at the well-known Restaurant Marguery at 34-36 Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle in 1898. 8

8: E. Whibley to Kennedy, [June 1898], GUW #11039.


The subject of people resting on a bench appears in two late drawings by Whistler, Work m1667 and Man and woman on a park seat m1669. These drawings show Whistler 'jotting down with his idiosyncratic twisted lines the life of the streets'. 9 Although they have been dated 1901, being similar to sketchbook studies of that date, they could well date from a few years earlier, and appear closely related to this etching.

9: MacDonald 1995 [more] (cat. no. 1667).