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The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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12th May 2003 - A Private View (2)

On this day in 1893, the Private View for the 3rd Exhibition of the Society of Portrait Painters was held in the Grafton Gallery, London. Whistler was in Paris at the time, but was keen to hear news of how his paintings looked in the show; he wrote the following words to Ethel Birnie Philip (his sister-in-law), encouraging her to go to the gallery:

"My dear Bunnie - Dont fail to go to the Grafton tomorrow! - Private View - Don't venture to tell me... that anything prevented you! You had better telegraph to Webb to meet you - I have sent him a little card also - so that he can get in to the Gallery if you were prevented meeting outside - and if later on you were to write a little pencil note about it all, someone will post it for you in the Charing Cross Station as you know as late as 8. o'clock..."

(GUL Whistler W305)

A week or so after the opening of the show, a dispute arose concerning Sheridan Ford and the Grafton Gallery manager, F. G. Prange. Prange said that Ford had been claiming to be representing Whistler in some way, possibly through a proposed tour of the United States of America. (Ford had previously fallen out with Whistler when in the early 1890s he had published a pirated copy of Whistler's book The Gentle Art of Making Enemies.) Prange wrote a letter officially denying any connection between the Grafton Gallery and Ford (GUL Whistler P670), a letter which Whistler copied and circulated. In a further (private) note to Whistler, Prange assured the artist of his feelings towards Ford: "If I meet him I'll flay the devil" (GUL Whistler P669).