The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 3rd [Exhibition], Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1893
Record 10 of 11

System Number: 00605
Date: 4 October 1893
Author: Charles M. Kurtz[1]
Place: Chicago
Recipient: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[2]
Place: New York
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C106
Document Type: TLS[3]


Oct. 4, 1893.

E. G. Kennedy, Esq.,
Care Wunderlich & Co.,
868 Broadway, New York;

Dear Mr. Kennedy: - -

Your letter of Oct. 2, addressed to Prof. Ives[4], is just received. In his absence, I will explain to you the matter of the hanging of the Whistler pictures. Prof Ives doubtless will write you when he returns:

The Whistler paintings are all in one room, with a single exception -- "The Nocturne, Valparaiso[5]" -- which is in an adjoining gallery. I inclose [sic] you herewith a plan of the galleries, showing where the Whistler paintings are placed[.] This, if you wish, you can forward to Mr. Whistler. I, personally, plead guilty to the hanging of the pictures in the United States section. When we began the hanging, we had the intention of hanging each artist's works in a group by themselves, allowing space between the different groups, as in the salon of the Champs de Mars[6]; but, owing to the enormous number of works sent by American artists, we found it was utterly impossible to do this in the space at our command. When I found we had to abandon this project, the next thing was to hang the pictures in such a manner as to give the best ensemble to the walls and to place each picture in such a way as to show it at its best. I think you will agree with me that (p. 2)[7] Mr. Whistler's paintings certainly show to excellent advantage as they have been placed.

In regard to the other matters mentioned in your letter, I am sure that a card of invitation was sent to Mr. Whistler for the dedicatory exercises, and I know that a season complimentary ticket was issued for him. If he has not received them, it must be the fault of the mails. Mr. Whistler is in error about the matter of awards. I find, upon examination, that he received awards both for painting and etching.

The catalogues of the department originally issued were so very defective and in various ways undignified that we felt a reluctance to send any of them to the artists unless we were especially requested to do so. Now that the new catalogue is published, we shall endeavor if possible to have the Exposition supply us a sufficient number of copies to enable us to send to every contributor to the department. Meanwhile, I send you by separate package two copies of the revised catalogue[8] -- one for yourself and one for Mr. Whistler. Not knowing the exact present address of Mr. Whistler, I shall be obliged to ask you kindly to forward it.

Like yourself, I am a very great admirer of the work of Mr. Whistler, and I found peculiar pleasure in studying an arrangement of his works calculated to present them to the best advantage. I am gratified to read in your letter your expression of satisfaction at the manner in which the pictures were placed. I very greatly value your opinion in such matters. I really believe that if Mr. Whistler (p. 3)[9] were here he would be fairly pleased with the way in which his pictures are shown.

Trusting I may have the pleasure of seeing you in New York within the next few months, I am

Most sincerely yours,

Charles M. Kurtz


I think the "dignity" of the catalogues sent you would be enhanced if the portraits were removed. They were the result of a "freak" on the part of the publisher - over whom we have not control.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Charles M. Kurtz
Charles McMeen Kurtz (1855-1909), Director of Buffalo Fine Arts Academy and Assistant Chief, U. S. Fine Art Department, World's Columbian Exposition [more]. This letter was sent to JW with #07222.

2.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more]. See JW to Kennedy, [21 September 1893], #09710.

3.  TLS
Most of this letter is typed with a blue typewriter ribbon. The final paragraph is written by hand in black ink. The letter was signed by hand.

4.  Prof. Ives
Halsey Cooley Ives (1847-1911), painter [more].

5.  Nocturne, Valparaiso
Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay (YMSM 76).

6.  Champs de Mars
3rd Exhibition, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1893.

7.  (p. 2)
'E.G. K., 2.' is typed at top of page.

8.  revised catalogue
World's Columbian Exposition 1893 Chicago Department of Fine Arts, 'Revised Catalogue, with Index of Exhibitors ... Edited by the Department of Fine Arts, World's Columbian Exposition,' Official Publications World's Columbian Expositionexhibition catalogue.

9.  (p. 3)
'E.G. K., 3.' is typed at top of page.