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The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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8th September 2003 - Death of Mallarmé

The French Symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé died 105 years ago today.

A good friend of the artist, Mallarmé first encountered Whistler through an introduction by Claude Monet, and was soon involved with Whistler's oeuvre in the capacity of translator (into French) of the Ten O'Clock lecture. In a like manner, in April 1892 Whistler worked on a lithograph of Mallarmé for the frontispiece of Mallarmé's book Vers et Prose (Paris, 1893).

Mallarmé was active in persuading the French government to purchase the portrait of Whistler's mother for the Louvre, and in obtaining honours for him, and Whistler was terribly upset when he heard of the news of the poet's death. He wrote to the newly widowed Geneviève Mallarmé in September 1898:

"Je pleure avec vous deux - inconsolable! - 'mon Mallarmé!' - vous savez bien - je l'aimais tant! -"

("I weep with the two of you - inconsolable! - 'my Mallarmé' - you are well aware - I loved him so much! -")

(from collection of Bibliothèque littéraire Jacques Doucet, Paris)