The Little Café au Bois

Artist: James McNeill Whistler (1834 - 1903)
Historical period(s)
Lithograph on paper
H x W: 20.9 x 15.7 cm (8 1/4 x 6 3/16 in)
United States
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


commerce, eating, night, United States

From at least 1906 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from the artist by at least 1906 [1]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [2]


[1] See Original Whistler List, Lithographs, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. Regarding the purchase details for this object, a note in the Accession File, Collections Management office, states only: "From Whistler." Also, according to Curatorial Remark 2, G.D.G., 1921, in the object record: "No record existing of the time of purchase, the print was given a registration number for 1906, the year of the printed Inventory."

[2] 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)

James McNeill Whistler (C.L. Freer source) 1834 - 1903
Charles Lang Freer 1854 - 1919


According to Thomas R. Way, who supervised the printing of most of Whistler's lithographs, the artist drew this night scene at an outdoor music hall in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. Whistler rendered the effect of artificial illumination at night by assertively using his lithographic crayon to establish a complex, alternating pattern of light and dark. The dark, angled strokes filling the background of the print define the brightly lit bandstand at the left, the light from which is illuminating the women seated at the table and the tree trunks to their right. At the center of the composition, the blacks of the waiter's jacket underscore the starched whiteness of his shirtfront and apron.

Published References
  • The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler. 2 vol., Chicago and New York, 1998. pp. 438-443.
Collection Area(s)
American Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum