From 1902 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Company of the Butterfly, London, in 1902 
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 
 See Original Whistler List, Paintings, pg. 16, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Society of the Butterfly [Company of the Butterfly] was James McNeill Whistler's London business through which he sold his works. Mr. Freer purchased this work in May 1900, although it was paid for on June 16, 1902 (see Accession List, Collections Management Office, as well as Curatorial Remarks in the object record).
 The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.
- Previous Owner(s)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Company of the Butterfly (C.L. Freer source)
A group of children looking into a shop window; signed with the butterfly to the right of the shop door.
Whistler was fascinated by street scenes throughout his career, from his early etchings and watercolors of the quiet village of Saverne in the Rhineland, to a busy ower market in northern France, and on to the children in his London neighborhood.
These scenes not only appealed to Victorian critics and art collectors, but they also provided subtle allusions to the social and economic realities of the day. In Chelsea Children, a child looks longingly into a shop window advertising stewed eels, an inexpensive meal favored by the poor. Like most of Whistler’s street scenes, Chelsea Children is painted on hot-pressed paper. Its smooth surface allowed the artist to use delicate brushstrokes for greater detail.
- Published References
- David Park Curry. Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 2015. .
- Christopher Finch. American Watercolors., 1st ed. New York, 1986. fig. 180.
- Margaret F. MacDonald. James McNeill Whistler: Drawings, Pastels, and Watercolours : A Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, 1995. .
- Burns A. Stubbs, Freer Gallery of Art. Paintings, pastels, drawings, prints, and copper plates by and attributed to American and European artists, together with a list of original Whistleriana in the Freer Gallery of Art. Occasional Papers Series, vol. 1 Washington. p. 19.
- With Kindest Regards: The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler 1890-1903. Washington. p. 61, pl. 13.
- David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler at the Freer Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1984. p. 193, pl. 121.
- Elisabeth Luther Cary. The Works of James McNeill Whistler: A Study., First edition. New York, 1907. no. 236, p. 194.
- David Park Curry. James McNeill Whistler: Uneasy Pieces. Richmond and New York, 2004. p. 290, fig. 7.26.
- Collection Area(s)
- American Art
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