The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Winter Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887-1888
Record 13 of 30

System Number: 01722
Date: [30 November 1887?][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Editor, Globe[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G88
Document Type: ALdS


Atlas[3]! - old friend - listen while again I point indicate with sweet argument the alternative of the bewildered Critic since we are agreed that he will continue -

Listen Henry[4] -
and just one -

To the Editor of the Globe. -

Sir -

Though it is not necessary that the "Art Critic" should distinguish between one etching and another, between the real & the reproduction or otherwise understand anything of the matter of which he writes, in that state of life in which it has pleased God to call him, yet, as we are agreed I have before now pointed out, he might enquire. -

Had your the Mr Spielman [sic], the expounder of Exhibitions travelling [running?] for the Magazine of Art[5] & he who collects for the Globe[6], asked the Secretary[7] in the Galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists[8], he would have been told that the Notes Etchings on the staircase, and in the vestibule, are "not delightful [sketch?] lithographs from Notes[9] - [and?] unnerving as it may appear all of them new, and now shown in public for the first time -

Thus easily provided with paragraph, thhey would also have been spared the mortification of rebuke from thiseir employers, for printing in the issue of the Globe of tuesday Nov. 29th. on the one hand: "Mr Whistler has furnished the staircase and the corridor with proofs of many of his etchings, most of which we have seen before."

[p. 2][10] Let the Gentleman be warned - let him learn that the foolish Critic[11] only, looks, and brings disaster upon his paper - The safe and well conducted one, informs himself." -

I am Sir

J McNeill. Whistler

[p. 3] Sir -

You who are I perceive in your present incarnation, an undaunted & undulled persuer of [pleasing?] truths listen I pray you while I indicate with sweet argument the alternative of the bewildered one! -

Fortunately it is not necessary that the Art Critic

yet surely -

[Design for a frame][12]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [30 November 1887?]
Dated from reference to an article published in the Globe, 29 November 1887. A second draft of this letter is #01721. See also Getscher, Robert H., and Paul G. Marks, James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Two Annotated Bibliographies, New York and London, 1986, B. 48.

2.  Editor, Globe
Not identified.

3.  Atlas
Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894), novelist, 'Atlas' columnist and editor-proprietor of the World [more]. All the added text on this letter has been written in pencil by JW. This first paragraph of added text appears in the upper right corner of the page.

4.  Listen Henry
Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more]. It appears that JW considered writing direct to Spielman, as author of the offending review.

5.  Magazine of Art
London art journal.

6.  Globe
Globe, 29 November 1887.

7.  the Secretary
Horace Henry Cauty (1846-1909), historical and genre painter [more].

8.  Royal Society of British Artists
Winter Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887-1888.

9.  lithographs from Notes
Spielman might have been confused by the recent publication of 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886.

10.  [p. 2]
This separate sheet has been affixed to the foot of page one.

11.  the foolish Critic
The contrast between the wise and the foolish is a theme of the biblical books of wisdom; see for example Proverbs 10.14, 'Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction', or Proverbs 13.20, 'He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed'.

12.  [Design for a frame]
Design for a frame (M.1167). This frame was designed for etchings, and possibly for lithographs. In pencil.