Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

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Rue des Buttes Montmartre


Rue des Buttes Montmartre, Worcester Art Museum
Rue des Buttes Montmartre, Worcester Art Museum

It was painted with loose, broad brushstrokes in the foreground, and careful, more precise brushstrokes on details, such as the trees, but is not typical of Whistler's known work.

This painting was omitted from the 1980 catalogue raisonné and the authors of the current catalogue do not believe that there are good reasons to accept the attribution to Whistler.

The subject and technique suggest a later work. For instance, it is more like the work of Maurice Utrillo (1883-1955), or, as Denys Sutton (1917-1991) commented, a 'smudged Raffaëlli':

'The establishment of the canon of Whistler's work is ever a tricky business … some doubts may be expressed concerning Rue des Buttes, Montmartre … The quality of this picture, strangely like a sort of smudged Raffaëlli, is demonstrably inferior to that of the Head of an Old Man Smoking … or the Head of a Peasant Woman … The signature looks rather odd; moreover no record of this painting occurs in Whistler literature; that Sickert gave it a certificate is not of much consequence. The two men only met in 1882 and unless one assumes that they actually discussed the painting ion question, which is unlikely, the younger man's knowledge of the master's early phase would have been scant; and Sickert's own ideas on expertise were vague enough.' 1

Conservation History





1: Sutton 1960b [more]. See, for instance, Raffaëlli's 'Street in a Rural Village', 1882, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Pau, and Utrillo's Rue du Mont-Cenis, 1914, Musée de l'Orangerie. Sutton comapared it to Head of an Old Man Smoking [YMSM 025] and Head of a Peasant Woman [YMSM 021]. There is actually some doubt as to the authenticity of the latter, but it is, as Sutton stated, well painted.

Last updated: 29th May 2021 by Margaret