The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867
Record 9 of 31

System Number: 11312
Date: [22 April 1867][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Lucas Ionides[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscripts Division, Pennell Whistler Collection, PWC 11/1032-33
Document Type: TLc[3]

'(Date on envelope[4]: 23 April 1867)'

338 Rue St. Honoré


Dear Lucas,

Your letter[5]s was only forwarded to me here on Saturday - and you know how difficult it is in Paris to find time for anything so you will forgive my not answering immediately.

What can you mean by saying that you think an apology due to Legros[6]! He told me that what I said was untrue[7]! And for that he was instantly punished.

A man gives you the lie to your face, and you naturally strike him - What on earth are you all talking about - Here have I had several letters[8] from Rossetti[9] - All the world seems to have gone agog about the simple chastisement of a gross insult. I am d----d if I understand them.

Certainly I am sure that you are not much more likely than I, to stand and smile gently on any one who told you that what you had just given utterance to was a lie! - There! let us say no more about it - It has I am sure bored you as much as it would me, if I had not entirely done with it.

To you there is always an apology due - and I feel my dear Lucas most contrite whenever I think of the liberty I took with your office. I wish though it had never occurred to you to go to Rossetti and ask him to be judge or umpire[10] or something. What for! (p. 2) bon Dieu! - When I left the "matter as you say in your hands," I merely meant that on investigation you would gind [sic] how impossible was your proposed reconciliation for me with a man of whose conduct I held the opinion I expressed to him in your office - that's all.

Enfin my dear Lucas, forgive again the trouble I have unwittingly caused you to take - and if you have a day or two to spare run over her[e] and we will dine at the Baron Brisse[11] - Paris would be very jolly if it were not still a little cold and rainy. I have a great success at the salon[12] and am rather enjoying myself - probably shall not get back before the end of this week or the beginning of next.

Adieu mon cher Lucas,
Ever yours,

J. A. M. Whistler.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  TLc
See also letter copy PWC 10/1032-335.

2.  [22 April 1867]
Date from Pennell note (see below), day of week and reference to JW's quarrel with Alphonse Legros.

3.  Lucas Ionides
Lucas ('Luke') Alexander Ionides (1837-1924), stockbroker and businessman [more].

4.  (Date on envelope ... 1867)
Note added in the hand of Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855-1936), née Robins, JW's biographer [more].

5.  letter

6.  Legros
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more]. JW first met Alphonse Legros in Paris during the late 1850s and together with Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), artist [more], they formed the Societé des Trois. However by April 1867 their friendship was over after a row which came to blows. JW's friends tried to intervene but the two men were never reconciled. The reasons for their quarrel are unclear but they seem to have had a protracted quarrel about money dating to 1864 (see Ionides, Luke Memories, Paris, 1925, reprinted with an afterword by Julia Ionides, Ludlow, 1996, p. 74, and #02505) and about Legros' marriage during the same period. See also JW's letter to Rossetti, #05242.

7.  untrue
Underlined four times.

8.  letter
See #05243.

9.  Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more].

10.  judge or umpire
Ionides' request for Rossetti to act as umpire in JW's quarrel with Legros seems to have been understood by Rossetti as having been made on JW's behalf (#05242). Hence Rossetti sent his first letter to JW through Ionides in order to ensure that JW received the most tactful response (#05243).

11.  Baron Brisse
Baron Léon Brisse (1813-1876), Parisian restauranteur and journalist. Brisse was a food-writer in the newspaper La Liberté, where he published a different menu everyday. In 1868 these were collected in an edition Les Trois Cent Soixant Six Menus du baron Brisse ('The 366 Menus of Baron Brisse'). His name survives as a garnish for large joints of meat.

12.  salon
JW exhibited At the Piano (YMSM 24) at the Paris Salon in 1867. It opened on 15 April. Etienne Joseph Théophile Thoré (1807-1869), alias Thoré-Burger, writer and art critic [more], hoped to buy At the Piano (YMSM 24). He wrote to Edouard Manet: 'Quelle belle peinture: au Piano, no. 1561! ah que je voudrais avoir ça, par metter au milieu de mes vieux maîtres' (#00433). He also showed The Thames in Ice (YMSM 36) under the title Sur la Tamise; l'Hiver (cat. no. 1562). The same month JW had further success in Paris at the Exposition Universelle where he showed works including Wapping (YMSM 35).