The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Winter Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887-1888
Record 27 of 30

System Number: 05120
Date: [January / 19 February 1888][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: William George Rawlinson[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler R20
Document Type: ALdS


No my dear Rawlinson! -

you may like or dislike as you please - and there is no reason for "praying for" you at all -

Your only indiscretion is in believing that any conclusion should be drawn from your preferences - and so supposing that what you fancy is better[4]! than what you dont understand -

That's all - my dear -

So then it is really true is it [p. 2] that, in the "dark days", the wise 'plain man' of the City, is distraught sufficiently to thank God for even the pot shot oppinion [sic] of the desperate outsider! -

You astonish me! - moreover here you make me point out understand the marked difference between the happy go lucky method of the serious business man, and the quiet consequence of the flippant man of science - while you also, I must acknowledge admit, perfectly excuse the good humored willingness with which you, in your turn, you proffer your advice -

Well aAbout the Nocturne[5], I dont know what more to shall I say - I still think it better to take it out of the hands of the Doctor[6] - and return it to me for the hundred pounds or guineas you paid for it - I being willing to paint you another undertake a new picture altogether - either Nocturne or day piece other -

Was there not though a little sketch[7] of mine also thrown in with the Nocturne at the time of the original transaction? - something of the kind I seem to remember -

Always my dear Rawlinson

J McNeill Whistler -

Again forgive my being Forgive my being so tardy again with my answer to your letter, but [p. 3] until this Sunday I have been without a moments rest from the business of the Exhibition just closed[8] in the Society's Galleries -

Again forgive my tardy answer but during the week they have bewildered me with Committee meetings & what not - & I have not had a moment until tonight


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1.  [January / 19 February 1888]
Dated from W. G. Rawlinson to JW, #05123.

2.  William George Rawlinson
William George Rawlinson (1840-1928), silk merchant, collector [more]. This is a reply to W. G. Rawlinson to JW, #05119.


4.  better
Double underlined.

5.  Nocturne
Probably Nocturne (YMSM 114) or Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Battersea Reach (YMSM 119). Pennell mentions a 'small framed Nocturne' that was one of five paintings purchased from JW by Howell on 22 February 1878. See Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Whistler Journal, Philadelphia, 1921, p. 69.

6.  little sketch
Possibly Study for the Head of Miss Cicely H. Alexander (YMSM 128).

7.  the Doctor
In his letter to JW (#05119), Rawlinson mentions that the Nocturne is in the hands of 'the renowned picture doctor.' This was probably William Dyer & Sons, a firm of picture restorers.

8.  Exhibition just closed
Probably the Winter Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887-1888. JW was then President of the Royal Society of British Artists.