The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

return to search results

Documents associated with: II Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia,Venice, 1897
Record 1 of 8

System Number: 11097
Date: 15 February 1894
Author: Riccardo Selvatico[1]
Place: Venice
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Archivo Storico delle Arti Contemporanee della Biennale di Venezia, Venice
Document Type: MsLS

[crest of lion of St. Mark:] SINDACO D: VENEZIA


February 15. 1894.


Having our Municipal Council passed lately a Resolution for the purpose to inaugurate in 1895 a series of Art Exhibitions[2] to be held in the city every two years during the months of April and May. I think it to be highly decorous and advantageous to the purpose to invite some among the most eminent artists in Europe soliciting the honour of their participation to the same.

This city where the splendid creating of human genius in every branch of art and in every century, as well as the historical records of its balmy days, constitute a peculiar attraction to foreign visitors, seems to be indeed a right place for opening an Exhibition or rather an international gallery, which mustering together at periodical intervals the best manifestations of modern art might form as a sort of school to show the standard of progress that is being made from time to time by contemporary artists.

My administration in taking the initiative of [p. 2] that proposal was principally moved by the desire to revive to the best of our power those glorious artistic traditions transmitted to us by the ancient masters to which chiefly Venice owes that general consideration and sympathy on the part of all civilized countries of which it is so justly proud.

The Exhibition therefore is to be limited so such works only as may be considered of an elevated standard in art and shall be held on purpose in said months of spring during which greater is the number of visitors to Venice.

Proper funds were voted at the sitting of the Municipal Council of April 19th 1893 for building a decorous gallery in the public gardens and for the foundation of prizes, one among others of 10,000 lire, to be bestowed every other year to the best pieces exhibited regardless of nationality.

All the expenses for freight to Venice shall be defrayed by the Municipal Administration, and the works to be exhibited shall not be submitted for admission to any special Jury nor to any charge whatever. Every facilitation shall like wise be afforded to Exhibitors and families coming to Venice.

Under these circumstances I take the li-[p. 3]berty, Sir, to apply myself to you, whose name stands so high in the artistic world, requesting kindly you will let me know whether you permit us to add your name in a Committee of Patronage to be formed among the most illustrious artist of Europe, whose names will shortly be communicated to you.

I am confident your answer will be favourable and that your sympathy may not fail to patronize with your incontestable authority in its primordial steps an institution that tends to promote that Art which is considered as the best school for civil education and at same time the most efficient means to straiten those bonds of universal fraternity to which all public Powers as well as private individuals ought constantly to aim.

A prompt reply, if convenient, will greatly oblige,

Yours very respectfully

R. Selvatico

Syndic of Venice.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Riccardo Selvatico
Riccardo Selvatico (1850-1901), poet and Mayor of Venice [more].

2.  Art Exhibitions
Works by JW were exhibited at the 1st Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia, Venice, 1895, as well as in 1897 and 1903; see MacDonald, Margaret F., Palaces in the Night Whistler in Venice, Aldershot, 2001.