The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 64th Annual Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887
Record 4 of 31

System Number: 06001
Date: 14 March 1887
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Emilia A. Venturi[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler V89
Document Type: Ms/ALdS[2]

The Vale, Chelsea,

14th March, 1887

I, J, A, McN, Whistler, grateful, do hereby declare upon my honour as a butterfly and Gentleman, true critic, [yet] asbecause great Artist that I have received the Ice [illegible] Picture of mine (Ice in the Thames[3] 1867) from Mme Venturi and promise to return the same in May next upon the closing of Exhibition, S B A[4]., unaltered and unimproved or injured & in the same it's proper frame. it was when lent by her to me this morning. (signed)

I, painter Gentleman & critic alone knowing well what is right in these scientific matters, will therefore provide the frame[5] of exquisite proportion in which the above beautiful work shall be ever after preserved by the Lady, wise, brilliant, & charming, to whose loving care is the Gods have entrusted the picture, that it may be preserved for Posterity, as yet another proof of her devotion to, and faith in the Master

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Emilia A. Venturi
Emilie Venturi (d. 1893), née Ashurst, wife (1) of Sydney Hawkes, and (2) Carlo Venturi [more].

2.  Ms/ALdS
The main text, from 'The Vale' to '(signed)', is not in JW's hand and was probably written by Mme Venturi. All alterations and additions are by JW, as is the last sentence, 'I, painter ... the Master'.

3.  Ice in the Thames
Chelsea in Ice (YMSM 53). It is not certain when it was painted, but stylistically and meteorologically 1864 is more likely than 1867. It is not known when Mme Venturi acquired it.

4.  Exhibition, S B A
It was shown at 64th Annual Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887. JW was making a hurried attempt to borrow works for the show (see also his letter to W. Dowdeswell, 16 March 1887, #08617).

5.  frame
JW was known for borrowing, reworking, not returning, and/or reframing paintings without their owners' permission.