The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Loan Exhibition, Scottish National Portraits, Board of Manufactures, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1884
Record 6 of 8

System Number: 01814
Date: 13 October 1884
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Algernon Graves[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G180
Document Type: ALdS[2]

13. Tite [Street]

Oct 13. 1884

Dear Mr Graves -

Your Father[3] is evidently under an erroneous impression as to the condition situation -

You see the picture[4] is legally mine - and I know it - that is all -

I hold the receipt your acknowledgment of its' sale to me and a receipt of the sum paid on account

No one else has any thing to say as to its price or its destination - Certainly my lawyer Mr George Lewis[5] is of this opinion -

But as I told you it would be a great pity that we should fall out about this matter or any other -

Of course if it pleased your father to vex and harass me for the £250 still due upon the Carlyle[6] he could do so - and I should have to but why need he do this - This year has been a notably bad one for us all - and [p. 2] you all know that I will pay up as soon as possible & meanwhile give you more money directly I can - But the Carlyle shall not be sold in Scotland for a stiver less than 1000. gs - and also I stick to my letter to you[7] - If you do not choose to send it to your correspondent[8], you must let him know the state of the case in your own way - I shall certainly publish the letter myself in the papers[9] here (though if you like I will omit your name certainly of course) for it has always been my intention to expose the impertinence and ineptitude of Mr. Scharfe[10]. I have only waited for the occasion to show I never forget -

To say that the picture was not offered to the National Portrait Gallery is a distinction of the gentlest kind - for it was shown to Mr S. the Director that he might buy it for for the gallery that collection [p. 3] for when the Expert appointed to judge and buy for this Country, Mr Schaaf [sic], Director of the National Portrait Gallery

Then it was offered for sale to the National Portrait Gallery here, Mr Scharf, Director and the expert saw appointed to judge - and buy for it not only laughed outright at the idea that work such as this should pass for painting at all! - and refused to entertain the proposal at all for a moment -

It is true that at that time the picture had not been exhibited in Paris and hung in a place of honor in the Salon[11] - so that he might well say that he had not had a chance of hearing any other opinion -

Your faithfully


Tite Street

[p. 4] My dear George[12] -

How is it all getting on -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Algernon Graves
Algernon Graves (1845-1922), of H. Graves and Co., print dealers [more].

2.  ALdS
The final version of this letter is #10919.

3.  father
Henry Graves (1806-1892), print dealer and founder of H. Graves and Co. [more].

4.  picture
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137).

5.  George Lewis
Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].

6.  £250 still due upon the Carlyle
Graves had asked for this on 11 October 1884 (#01813). On 30 September 1878 H. Graves & Co. had lent JW £120 on the security of the Carlyle portrait and by 9 February 1881, JW owed them £300 of which he then repaid £50 as a down payment on the repurchase of the painting (#01801). JW would sell the painting to Glasgow Corporation in April 1891 for 1000 guineas.

7.  my letter to you
JW's letter was dated 10 October [1884] (#10918).

8.  your correspondent
Not identified.

9.  the papers
No such publication has been located.

10.  Mr. Scharfe
Sir George Scharf (1820-1895), archaeological painter and Director of the National Portrait Gallery [more].

11.  Salon
102nd exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1884.

12.  My dear George [...] getting on -
This is a fragment of another letter, probably to Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].