The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 5th Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia, Venice 1903
Record 2 of 3

System Number: 05955
Date: [October/November 1902][1]
Author: Filippo Grimani[2]
Place: Venice
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler V44
Document Type: MsLS[3]

[roundel with golden crest of lion of St Mark holding a gospel inscribed:] PAX TIBI MARCE EVANGLESTA MEVS

Modern Portrait Room.
Venice -

date of postage-stamp.[4]

Dear Sir,

Portraiture is, without doubt, one of the noblest and most significant forms of Art; it is the living expression of the Soul of the Age.

If ancient portraits awake deep interest in the public, surely no less attraction will be excited by modern portraits which the hand of a great artist has stamped with some characteristic touch of these times of ours, so rich in thought and throbbing with activity and passion.

The Committee of the Fifth International Art Exhibition in Venice has therefore resolved to form a Select Collection of portraits painted by the few contemporary Artists who have attained to a standard [p. 2] of real excellence in this particular branch of Art.

Among these Masters of Modern Portraiture, You, my dear Sir, are in the first rank.

We therefore have the pleasure of inviting you to take part in this special Exhibition by sending us two of your works, selected from among those you consider the most important and characteristic.

We also beg to acquaint you, that:

1) All expenses of carriage (to and from Venice) are paid by us.

2) The Municipality of Venice has offered various Gold Medals for the most important Exhibits and 100.000 Italian lire for official purchases.

3) Should the portraits to which you attach chief importance be in the hands of private persons[5] and should the latter not consent to loan them for the six months during which the Exhibition remains open, we are willing to accept them [p. 3] for a lesser period.

We trust that this invitation which reaches you from the City of Tintoretto[6] and Titian[7] in recognition of your high artistic worth, will not prove unwelcome and begging you to favour us with a line in acceptation at your earliest convenience.

We have the honour, dear Sir, to remain

yours faithfully

The Mayor of Venice
President of the Exhibition -

F Grimani

The General Secretary
Prof A. Fradeletto[8]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [October/November 1902]
Dated by the references to plans for the 5th Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia, Venice, 1903, which opened on 22 April.

2.  Filippo Grimani
Comte Filippo Grimani (1850-1921), Mayor of Venice, President of the Internation Art Exhibition of the City of Venice [more].

3.  MsLS
The letter was written by a secretary, and signed by Grimani and Fradeletto.

4.  date of postage-stamp.
The envelope has not survived.

5.  private persons
William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), banker and patron [more], and William Burrell (1861-1958), ship-owner and collector [more], were asked to lend works to this exhibition, and letters from them are in the Biennale Archives in Venice.

6.  Tintoretto
Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti) (1519-1594), Venetian painter [more].

7.  Titian
Tiziano ('Titian') Vecello or Vecellio (1485-1576), painter and engraver [more].

8.  Prof A. Fradeletto
Antonio Fradeletto (1858-1930), literary historian, art critic and writer, radical politician, and general secretary of the Venice Biennale [more]; see his letter to JW, 16 December 1902, #05956.