The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

return to search results

Documents associated with: 3rd Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1893
Record 5 of 8

System Number: 05032
Date: 27 May 1893
Author: Francis Gerard Prange[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P672
Document Type: ALS

27 May 1893

[crest with crown and rose:] THE REFORM CLUB

My chér [sic] Maître,

Truly it is a chance that I am sitting down answering your note of yesterday; I had meant to stay in the country today - but a strange feeling that something was required of me - drove me to the Station early this morning & into town.

At my Rooms there was nothing - at the Galleries[2] still less - but at the Club! there my prophetic soul found realisation.

And now - first of all - d— the Galleries & [p. 2] the light ther[e]of.

I shall call a council of war - Shannons[3] & Archies[4] & Biglands[5] & a' [-] a few short weeks since - every being that entered the Galleries said that the light was beautiful - the best - the finest &c &c and now it seems all wrong. Certainly Shannon's, Archie's & Biglands pictures don't look well this time & my belief is that the proper light for the lot of what they have sent is a Camera obscura =

Your picture[6] does look well & so do the other five ones.

However we will have [p. 3] it out and what can be done shall be done.

"The Studio[7]" has been in Richard's[8] hands for a week. It is certainly improved and I have put about this fact of its being for sale in the right quarters.

Now for Oscar[9]! The Grafton Directors[10], for some reasons of their own - would not have O. W. asked[.] He has insulted some one somehow, or somebody imagines that Dorian Grey[11] [sic] is meant for him - God knows what it is all about!

Well as might have been expected, he appeared at [p. 4] the private view. What the facts are about his not having a card, I do not know - I should fancy that he came in with some one else & I'm sure I hope that he will get at Atlas[12] somehow.

I don't care a bit about what they say, for as far as I know there's no shadow of a proof. Anyhow he is capable of writing things that are amusing & plays[13] that can be acted.

I don't know him at all, but he makes me laugh - I know the Directors d—d well & they never made me laugh -

yrs ever

F G Prange

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Francis Gerard Prange
Francis Gerard Prange (b. ca 1843), London art dealer [more], and art manager of the Grafton Galleries.

2.  Galleries
3rd Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1893, which opened at the Grafton Galleries on 13 April 1897.

3.  Shannons
James Jebusa Shannon (1862-1923), genre and portrait painter [more]. See C. H. Shannon, [Portrait] (z298) and C. H. Shannon, [Portrait] (z301).

4.  Archies
Archibald James Stuart-Wortley (1849-1905), painter, first President of the Society of Portrait Painters [more]. A. S. Wortley, [Portrait](z299) and A. S. Wortley, [Portrait] (z300).

5.  Biglands
Percy Bigland (ca 1858 - d.1926), portrait, genre and landscape painter [more]. P. Bigland, [Portrait] (z302).

6.  picture
JW showed Arrangement in Black: Portrait of Señor Pablo de Sarasate (YMSM 315), 'Sarasate' (no. 52) in the Music Room and 'An Interior' (no. 183) in the End Gallery, probably Whistler in his Studio (YMSM 63). He also sent W. Boxall, Portrait of J. Whistler (z76) to the exhibition. Although the catalogue states that 'A Portrait' (no. 152), shown in the Vestibule, was by JW, it was actually painted by Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more] (B. Whistler, A Portrait). The Spectator described how 'A small and charming study has been not unnaturally catalogued as a third Whistler, but is restored by a note on the frame, to 'R. Birnie', The Spectator, n.d., 1893, p. 737. Rix Birnie was Beatrix's pseudonym (see JW to S. Richards, 4 May 1893 , #10718).

7.  The Studio
Whistler in his Studio (YMSM 63).

8.  Richard's
Stephen Richards (b. ca 1845), picture restorer [more].

9.  Oscar
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more].

10.  Grafton Directors
Viscount Baring, T. D. Croft, managing director of the Grafton Galleries, Alfred Farquhar, John James Robert Manners (1818-1906), Marquis of Granby, politician [more], Lord Hothfield, Emmanuel Maguire Underdown (1831-1913), barrister [more], and Edward Montagu Stuart Granville Stuart-Wortley (1827-1899), 1st Earl of Wharncliffe [more].

11.  Dorian Grey
Wilde, Oscar, The Picture of Dorian Gray, London, 1891, first published by Lippincott's Magazine, 1890. It is a fantasy of a man whose portrait bears the marks of age and debauchery while he retains the outward appearance of serenity and youth. A story of moral corruption, the book touches on many of Wilde's recurring themes, such as the nature and spirit of art, aestheticism and the dangers inherent in it. The model for the main character is thought to be John Gray (1866-1934), one-time companion of Wilde.

12.  Atlas
Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894), novelist, 'Atlas' columnist and editor-proprietor of the World [more].

13.  plays
Wilde's A Woman of No Importance was playing at the Haymarket Theatre from 19 April 1893.