The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 21st Autumn Exhibition of Pictures, Corporation of Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1891
Record 21 of 21

System Number: 03695
Date: [March 1895/1898][1]
Author: Dugald Sutherland MacColl[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: [none]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M29
Document Type: AD[3]

I had been dining with some friends, of whom Steer[4] was one. As we finished, a message came down to me that Whistler was alone, & would I come. Knowing there was some tension, I suspected one of those demonstrations that were apt to take place on Whistler's visits to a club. I therefore said, No, that we should doubtless see him presently. And presently he marched up the room with a little procession behind him: a semi-circle was formed, & he gave me one of his most amusing set-pieces, an account of how he hung an exhibition at Liverpool[5]. My party broke up, & I crossed over to talk to another friend. When his 'turn' was ended Whistler came & sat down beside me & opened at once upon the "Baronet[6]". I urged him to drop the silly business, for I thought the time had passed for the rôle of "Bu "Butterfly". Mr. Sullivan[7] came in, & tells me he was entertained by Whistler's technique in discussion, his play with eye glass & matchbox, & the "And —" with which he once checked an inter[r]uption. Such was the grain of truth.

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1.  [March 1895/1898]
Dated from the reference to the Baronet (see below).

2.  Dugald Sutherland MacColl
Dugald Sutherland MacColl (1859-1948), painter and etcher, art critic and writer [more].

3.  AD
This page is numbered '5' in the top right corner.

4.  Steer
Philip Wilson Steer (1860-1942), painter [more].

5.  Liverpool
JW had been on the hanging committee for the 21st Autumn Exhibition of Pictures, Corporation of Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1891.

6.  Baronet
Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more]. JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], over possession of Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), started on 14 February 1894, when, with the portrait nearing completion, Eden sent JW a 'Valentine', a cheque for 100 guineas. JW thought this inadequate, He said that the work was incomplete and he was dissatisfied with it anf refused to hand it over, on the grounds that it was the artist's right to withhold a picture in such circumstances. When Eden instituted legal proceedings in November 1894 in order to retrieve the portrait, JW returned all monies that had been paid to him. The Eden v Whistler trial opened at the Civil Tribunal on 26 February 1895. The verdict on 13 March went against JW, who appealed to the Cour de Cassation. The appeal opened on 17 November 1897, and on 2 December JW won his case and was permitted to keep the picture provided that he did not 'make use of it, public or private' (see #01037; and Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24]. In a final appeal in April 1900 Eden was ordered to pay all expenses.

7.  Mr. Sullivan
Possibly Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan (1842-1900), composer and conductor [more].