The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Mr Whistler's Lithographs, The Fine Art Society, London, 1895
Record 4 of 84

System Number: 03387
Date: [25 September 1894][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Thomas Robert Way[2]
Place: London
Repository: Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Call Number: FGA Whistler 139
Credit Line: Charles Lang Freer Papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: Gift of the Estate of Charles Lang Freer
Document Type: ALS[3]

110. Rue du Bac. Paris.

My dear Tom -

I am glad to hear that the three drawings[4] are all right on stone and look well - for I do so want to be sure of the material - that is the important thing - once settled the best material, and the rest will then begin - These two last drawings ought to give excellent results - but I don't know - Really that other paper - upon which I did the Rue de Furstenburg[5] was very good after all - and there was a strong and evident difference between the gummed side and the [p. 2] other side. Whereas in this newest paper that I have had made there is deuced little difference and great difficulty in making it out! - All these things must be quite cleared up. I do hope these last drawings will turn out all right and that you will both feel how nice it is to deal, in your part, with this material, for it is charming to draw upon - for me!

Well about limiting the number - We will talk about that - I intend to bring up the value of these proofs in lithography[6] - You see already I am giving to them the same beautiful and rare papers that I use for the etchings - And this old notion of 'popularity' is all nonsense - I find that only the same old clientelle who collect the etchings, buy the lithographs - and I am not going to give old Dutch paper and Japanese away for nothing - neither am I going to have the proofs on any thing inferior. That last small [p. 3] Dutch is lovely, and the two drawings ought [to] go charmingly upon it -

As to the exhibition[7] - yes it is to be under entirely new conditions and in a new place - but of that by and bye - at lunch at Simpsons[8]! -

If this paper, or another specially made, like it can be settled upon - then we will go into the coloured[9] work!! - and we will wipe up the place! But let us keep that dark at present! -

As to the periodicals[10] - I don't mean that to be the real object - We are altogether too choice for that! - Only now and again will we give them something - just to make them eager - And by the way I shall doubtless arrange for you to print one for the "Gazette des Beaux Arts[11]" - They have been at me - and I see in it a certain reason that would make [p. 4] it worth while, and have made your printing a condition -

Now I must be off -
With best messages
Very sincerely yours

J. McN. Whistler.

This document is protected by copyright.


Thomas Way. Junr.
21. Wellington Street
[postmark:] PARIS - 80 / R. DU BAC / 7E 25 / SEPT / 94
[postmark on verso:] LONDON W. C. / S. M. P. /A / SP 26 / 94

[written on verso:] Only print four more of the Forge[12] at present


1.  25 September 1894
Dated from the postmark, and the date '25 Sep 94' written in an unknown hand on p. 1.

2.  Thomas Robert Way
Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913), printer, lithographer and painter [more].

3.  ALS
Published in Spink, Nesta R., The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler, gen. eds Harriet K. Stratis and Martha Tedeschi, Chicago, 1998, vol. 2, p. 122-23, no. 122.

4.  three drawings
La Fruitière de la rue de Grenelle (C.106), La Robe rouge (C.107) and La Belle Dame endormie (C.108).

5.  Rue de Furstenburg
Rue Furstenburg (C.97).

6.  value of these proofs in lithography
JW raised his lithograph prices in August and September 1894 from 2 and 3 gns to 3 and 4 gns. Several dealers - D. C. Thomson, E. G. Kennedy, M. B. Huish, and E. G. Brown - objected (i.e. Kennedy to JW, 12 April 1893, #07214). JW made his attitude clear in 1894, when he was quoted as saying: 'Art is the worst aristocrat of all, it has nothing to do with the masses' ('Afternoons in Studios: A Chat with Mr Whistler', The Studio, vol. 4, no. 22, January 1895, p.118; see Spink, op. cit., 'Marketing the Lithographs', pp. 232-77).

7.  exhibition
Mr Whistler's Lithographs, The Fine Art Society, London, 1895.

8.  Simpsons
A restaurant in the Strand.

9.  coloured
JW's quarrel with Belfond in 1893 brought work on the colour lithographs for Songs on Stone to an end. Since JW had executed his first colour lithograph, Figure Study in Colors (C.39) with Way in 1890 he probably hoped to do so again, but his colour work never developed beyond the trial proofs printed with Belfond (Nude Model, Back View (C.45), Draped Figure, Standing (C.46), Lady and Child (C.55), Draped Figure, Reclining (C.56), Red House, Paimpol (C.66), Yellow House, Lannion (C.67)). In 1894 Belfond's print shop closed and JW's lithographic stones vanished (see JW to T. R. Way, [2 November 1894], #03390 and [4 November 1894], #03391; and Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, p. 159).

10.  periodicals
Chelsea Rags (C.26) appeared in The Albemarle, January 1892 as a 'Song on Stone'; Gants de suède (C.35) was published in The Studio, vol. 1, no. 3, 16 April 1894; The Winged Hat (C.34), The Tyresmith (C.36), Maunder's Fish Shop, Chelsea (C.37) appeared in The Whirlwind: A Lively and Eccentric Newspaper, 25 October 1890, November 1890, December 1890. Clarence W. McIlvaine proposed to bring out an edition of 'Spngs on Stone' but this did not come to pass (see JW's letter to McIlvaine, #04343; and Spink, op. cit., vol. 2, p. 236.

11.  Gazette des Beaux Arts
JW considered his previous attempts to produce lithographs (Count Robert de Montesquiou, No. 2 (C.84), Count Robert de Montesquiou (C.85)) for the Gazette des beaux-arts to be failures; he never published a lithograph in the French journal.

12.  Forge
The Forge, Passage du Dragon (C.102) or The Smith, Passage du Dragon (C.103)