The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886
Record 35 of 54

System Number: 13165
Date: [April 1886][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Dowdeswell and Dowdeswells[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PD[3]


I. THAT in Art, it is criminal to go beyond the means used in its exercise.

II. That the space to be covered should always be in proper relation to the means used for covering it.

III. That in etching, the means used, or instrument employed, being the finest possible point, the space to be covered should be small in proportion.

IV. That all attempts to overstep the limits insisted upon by such proportion, are inartistic thoroughly, and tend to reveal the paucity of the means used, instead of concealing the same, as required by Art in its refinement.

V. That the huge plate, therefore, is an offence - its undertaking an unbecoming display of determination and ignorance - its accomplishment a triumph of unthinking earnestness and uncontrolled energy - endowments of the "duffer."

VI. That the custom of "Remarque" emanates from [p. 2] the amateur, and reflects his foolish facility beyond the border of his picture, thus testifying to his unscientific sense of its dignity.

VII. That it is odious.

VIII. That, indeed, there should be no margin on the proof to receive such "Remarque."

IX. That the habit of margin, again, dates from the outsider, and continues with the collector in his unreasoning connoisseurship - taking curious pleasure in the quantity of paper.

X. That the picture ending where the frame begins, and, in the case of the etching, the white mount, being inevitably, because of its colour, the frame, the picture thus extends itself irrelevantly through the margin to the mount.

XI. That wit of this kind would leave six inches of raw canvas between the painting and its gold frame, to delight the purchaser with the quality of the cloth.

[butterfly signature]

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1.  [April 1886]
Entitled L'Envoi, this statement was published with A Set of twenty-six etchings of Venice, 1886 (the second 'Venice set') (K.196-216, 233-237). (excat 6).

2.  Dowdeswell and Dowdeswells
Print dealers, publishers of the second 'Venice set'.

3.  PD
Re-published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London, 1890, pp. 76-77; and in Thorp, Nigel (Editor), Whistler on Art: Selected Letters and Writings 1849-1903 of James McNeill Whistler, Manchester, 1994, and Washington, 1995, no. 35, pp. 103-04.