Belgium and Holland

In August 1887 Whistler travelled to Belgium and Holland with his brother and sister-in-law. He took with him prepared plates and made nineteen etchings, thirteen of them in Brussels in September.

Whistler went back to Holland in 1889 and made a series of plates of Amsterdam. As ever, the view of a city viewed across water inspired him to new heights. He told the critic of the Pall Mall Gazette in 1890 that these etching combined the elaboration of his early Thames etchings with the Impressionism of his middle-period Venetian views.

Grand'Place, Brussels

Image["Object Number P.86-1959"]

Etching printed on Dutch(?) 'antique' laid paper trimmed by the artist, 1887

In August 1887 Whistler travelled to Belgium and Holland with his brother and sister-in-law. He took with him prepared plates and made nineteen etchings, thirteen of them in Brussels in September. As in the London etchings of this period, he mainly chose subjects away from tourist sites, but he was attracted by the celebrated Grand'Place, with its seventeenth-century Guild Houses. Rather than emphasise the monumentality of the recently restored House of the Dukes of Brabant (named after a series of busts along the front), Whistler evoked the decorative play of light and shade over its facade.

In February 1888 he supplied proofs of the Brussels etchings for Dowdeswells' to sell.

Bequeathed by G. J. F. Knowles 1959

P.86-1959

Balcony, Amsterdam

Image["Object Number P.91-1959"]

Etching and drypoint printed on Dutch 'antique' laid paper trimmed by the artist, 1889

Whistler arrived with his wife Beatrice in Amsterdam in late August 1889 with the intention of making a series of prints. He spent over two months exploring the city's waterways and made a series of 12 etchings from the low vantage point of a boat. This is one of two views of store fronts on Oudezijds Achterburgwal, then known as Rottenest, forming part of the back of no. 48 Zeedijk (this view became popular with other artists, such as D. Y. Cameron, who etched it in 1892). The depiction of hanging laundry repeats a theme of Whistler's recent London etchings (see Rag-Shop, Milman's Row and Clothes-Exchange, Houndsditch, No. 1 ).

This is the second state of the plate, printed before the addition of the extra shading seen in the impression below.

Bequeathed by G. J. F. Knowles 1959

P.91-1959

Balcony, Amsterdam

Image["Object Number P.2070-R"]

Etching and drypoint printed on 'antique' laid paper trimmed by the artist, 1889

This impression of the final state of the plate shows shading added since the impression above was printed (Whistler probably printed only about 12 proofs of this print).

The original mount of the print survives (the right edge has been restored) with the manuscript dedication To Mrs George signed with Whistler's butterfly. The recipient, Elizabeth Lewis (1844-1931), was wife of the lawyer George Lewis, and one of the leading hostesses of her day. Their house in Portland Place was frequented by artists and writers such as Whistler, Oscar Wilde, Henry James and Edward Burne Jones.

Given by Elizabeth, Lady Lewis 1919

P.2070-R


back to the top


The Fitzwilliam Museum : Belgium and Holland 1887-89

You are in: Online Resources > Online Exhibitions > Whistler > Belgium and Holland 1887-89