The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Loan Exhibition, Scottish National Portraits, Board of Manufactures, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1884
Record 7 of 8

System Number: 10919
Date: 13 October 1884
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Algernon Graves[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Call Number: f MS A 1412
Credit Line: Published by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University
Document Type: MsLcS[2]

13. Tite Street Chelsea. S. W -

Oct. 13. 1884 -

Dear Mr Graves

Your father[3] is evidently under an erroneous impression as to the situation -

You see the picture[4] is legally mine - and I know it - that is all - (I hold your acknowledgment of its sale to me and receipt of the sum paid on account.)

No one else has anything to say as to its price or its destination - Certainly my lawyer, Mr. George Lewis[5] is of this opinion -

But as I told you it would be a great pity that we should fall out about this matter or any other -

[p. 2] Of course if it pleased your father to vex and harass me for the £250 still due upon the Carlyle[6] he could do so - But why need he do this? This year has been notably a bad one for us all, and you know that I will pay up as soon as possible and meanwhile give you more money directly I can -

But the Carlyle shall not be sold in Scotland for a stiver less than 1000 guineas and also I stick to my letter to you - if you do not choose to send it to your correspondent[7], you must let him know the State of the case in your own way - I shall certainly publish the letter myself in the papers[8] here, (though if you like I will omit your name, of course) for it has always been my [p. 3] intention to expose the impertinence and ineptitude of Mr Scharfe[9]. I have only waited for the occasion - I never forget -

To say that the picture was not offered to the National Portrait Gallery is a distinction of the gentlest kind, for it was shown to the director that he might buy it for that collection -

Your truly

J. McNeill. Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Algernon Graves
Algernon Graves (1845-1922), of H. Graves and Co., print dealers [more].

2.  MsLcS
This is either a letter written by an amanuensis or a copy in an unknown hand of an unlocated original. There is a draft of this letter (#01814). Graves replied on 14 October 1884 (#01815).

3.  father
Henry Graves (1806-1892), print dealer and founder of H. Graves and Co. [more].

4.  picture
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137).

5.  Mr George Lewis
Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].

6.  £250 still due upon the Carlyle
Graves had asked for this on 11 October 1884 (#01813). On 30 September 1878 H. Graves & Co. had lent JW £120 on the security of the Carlyle portrait and by 9 February 1881 JW owed them £300 of which he then repaid £50 as a down pament on the repurchase of the painting (#01801). JW would sell the painting to Glasgow Corporation in April 1891 for 1000 guineas.

7.  correspondent
Not identified.

8.  the papers
No such publication has been located.

9.  Mr Scharfe
Sir George Scharf (1820-1895), archaeological painter and Director of the National Portrait Gallery [more].