The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Document associated with: Fair Children, Grafton Galleries, London, 1895
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 13256
Date: [18/25 November 1898][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: [newspaper editor]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler X80b
Document Type: ALfd

A Confidence.[2]

Sir -

Now that the scribes have ceased their scribbling, and the grasshopper has gone back to his box, and the Galleries are wound up to run by themselves, I will put my pen in the pot - for the occasion is mine - and we may be pleasantly merry!

I will then confide to you that the portrait of Miss May Alexander[3] was commenced many years ago - interrupted in its beginning, by illness of the young lady - and never afterwards touched! -

The work is of the same date, if you will keep it a public secret, as the better known picture of the sister "Miss Alexander"[4]. -

At the express request of the Committee, I allowed the picture painting in the Graffton [sic] - Galleries, to be exhibited, [illegible] without a word of explanation - that I might test, for my further reflection, the swift perception of the advanced cogniscienti [sic] since that earlier period, and note their instant pleasure in the technical direction and analysis of the painter's work in it's various stages -

It is reposeful to find no difference after all, between the independant [sic] ones who in those days wrote of the first portrait, as "unfinished" - but hideous intolerable and those of today [obsequious?] the polished [illegible] and [...]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [18/25 November 1898]
This draft letter probably dates from shortly after the draft on the verso to W. Heinemann, [18 November 1898], #07510. It refers to an exhibition at the Grafton Gallery in the autumn of 1898, but apparently some time had elapsed since the show (see below).

2.  A Confidence
Double underlined. The letter does not appear to have been published.

3.  Miss May Alexander
Miss May Alexander (YMSM 127). The painting was reproduced in Stevenson, Robert Alan Mowbray, Velasquez, London, 1899, p. 28, repr. p. 27.

4.  Miss Alexander
Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander (YMSM 129). JW exhibited the painting in the 8th Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1898 (cat. no. 5) under the title 'Miss May Alexander'.