The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: World's Columbian Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1893
Record 15 of 113

System Number: 02705
Date: [13 August 1892][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: John W. Beck[2]
Place: [Chicago?]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler LB 1/33
Document Type: ALSc[3]

Thank you Mr. Beck!

I refer you to my late experience in your Regent Street Gallery - historically recorded in the public press, of which I send herewith an extract. -

Sir Frederick Leighton's[4] expressed wish that I should "contribute to the British Section of the Chicago Exhibition," I confess fills me with the bewilderment of Thackery's[5] little boy in the street, to whom he had abruptly given a penny, and whose surprise was more ready than his gratitude!

Pray convey my distinguished consideration to the President, and say that I have an undefined sense of something ominously flattering occurring - but that no previous desire on his part ever to deal with work of mine, has prepared me with the proper form of acknowledgement [sic] -

No! no Mr Beck! - "Once hung - twice sky[6]!!"

[butterfly signature]


What a people...!!
could one conceive their running their neck in the noose in this way again. -

Experience is to them nothing! or they are so puffed up with their own dull importance, that they cannot believe that the insolence of years could possibly weigh against the gracious patronage of a convenient moment -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [13 August 1892]
Date of publication. See Whistler, James McNeill, [Letter to J. W. Beck], The National Observer: A Record and Review, no. 195, (new series), vol. 8, 13 August 1892, p. 326.

2.  John W. Beck
John W. Beck (fl. 1861-1895), landscape painter [more].

3.  ALSc
This is a letter copy in JW's hand. The press-cutting mentioned by JW, together with Beck's letter of invitation to exhibit at the Chicago Exhibition, is pasted into the letterbook alongside the letter copy. Original published in Grasberger sale catalogue, Philadelphia, c. 1926, p. 6, item 8.

4.  sky
According to the Pennells, the original word was 'shy' but JW was delighted with the misprint (Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2., p. 131). In the end, JW showed six works in Chicago, and was awarded a gold medal.

5.  Sir Frederick Leighton's
Frederic Leighton (1830-1896), painter and sculptor [more].

6.  Thackery's
A mispelling of William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), novelist and writer on art [more].