The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 4th Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1880
Record 4 of 4

System Number: 06082
Date: 1 May [1880][1]
Author: Thomas Way[2]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [Venice]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W79
Document Type: ALS[3]

21 Wellington St

May 1st

My dear Teacher -

Just one line in acknowledgement of yours[4] -

I am very poor just now having spent my earnings a long way in advance for the purchase of new machinery - but I will do what I can to extricate you from your diff[icultie]s - only it will take perhaps a few days - Meanwhile I know that I can depend upon you not to increase them seriously -

Would you just drop me a line to say what is really the lowest sum [p. 2] that will clear you & bring you home comfortably for "fivers" even are matters of calculation now adays -

I too, hope much from the pastels[5] - and have not been unobservant of the straws floating on Society since you left. When you come I think that I may be able to suggest a hint or two to help the "show" - Meanwhile (again) I have been very anxious about the careful transit of these same for I know how soon they are injured. Can you have [p. 3] a dozen slight deal boxes[6] made the exact size of the paper each to hold a limited number of the pastels - with tissue between each - & no room for shaking & consequent rubbing - They should be packed - if possible - under the eye of someone from the consulate who should be asked to sign them to show that there is nothing contraband - Thus you would be saved the risk of their being over hauled on the homeward journey -

Good bye - If I have sometimes said that which I ought not to have said & left unsaid that which I ought to have said you must bear [p. 4] with me - and set it against my deeds which may be more satisfactory.

Yesterday I went to the Grosvenor[7] Private View - It is the worst show they have had. Phil Morris[8] is all over the place & very weak - Albert Moore[9] fairly good - Burne Jones[10] weak & insipid - The best work is a portrait by Frank Holl [11] who beats Millais[12] in strength & bottles up poor Gregory[13] entirely - Bob Macbeth[14] a failure as usual -

There was a great gathering of Beauty & fashion upon which we gazed as savages - with wonder -

Yrs faithfully

T. Way.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  1 May [1880]
JW probably arrived in Venice on 20 September 1879, and was not back in London until November 1880.

2.  Thomas Way
Thomas Way (1837-1915), lithographic printer [more].

3.  ALS
Published in Spink, Nesta R., The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler, gen. eds Harriet K. Stratis and Martha Tedeschi, Chicago, 1998, vol. 2, pp. 34-35, no. 5.

4.  yours
Not located.

5.  pastels
Venice pastels (see M.725-828).

6.  deal boxes
Deal is softwood timber such as fir or pine.

7.  Grosvenor
IV Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1880.

8.  Phil Morris
Philip Richard Morris (1833 or 1836-1902), painter [more]. He exhibited P. R. Morris, The Bridge of Sigh (z38), P. R. Morris, Cradled in His Calling (z39), and P. R. Morris, The Corner Stone (z40) (cat. nos 22, 142, 153).

9.  Albert Moore
Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), painter [more]. He showed A. Moore, Jasmine (z41) (Watts Gallery, Compton, Guildford, Surrey) and A. Moore, Rose Leaves (z42) (whereabouts unknown) which were preliminaries for A. Moore, Dreamers (z43) (Birmingham City Art Gallery), and a vivid figure study for A. Moore, Topaz (z44)(cat. nos 95, 105, 162).

10.  Burne Jones
Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more]. Having appeared (unwillingly) for Ruskin in the Whistler v. Ruskin trial, he profited by JW's absence to become the acknowledged master of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1880. He showed E. Burne-Jones, The Golden Stairs (z45) (cat. no. 120). As Merrill points out, 'In deciding who, exactly, won Whistler v. Ruskin, one might conclude Burne Jones.' (Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 216).

11.  Frank Holl
Francis ('Frank') Montague Holl (1845-1888), painter and illustrator [more], exhibited one portrait, F. Holl, J. Bushby, Esq. (z46) (cat. no. 134).

12.  Millais
John Everett Millais (1829-1896), artist [more]. He showed a portrait of the artist, J. E. Millais, Mrs Louise Jopling (z47), who had already been painted by JW (Harmony in Flesh Colour and Black: Portrait of Mrs Louise Jopling (YMSM 191)), and a J. E. Millais, Portrait of Mrs Caird (z48) (cat. nos 49, 54).

13.  Gregory
Edward John Gregory (1850-1909), painter and illustrator [more]. A friend of Way, Gregory showed E. J. Gregory, Portrait of W. H. Wills, Esq., MP (z49), (cat. no. 39), which was well received (see Way, Thomas Robert, Memories of James McNeill Whistler, the Artist, London and New York, 1912, p. 11).

14.  Bob Macbeth
Robert Walker Macbeth (1848-1910), etcher and painter of rustic genre [more]. He was extensively represented, with R. W. Macbeth, Landing Sardines at Low Tide (z50), R. W. Macbeth, Welcome as the Flowers in May (z51), R. W. Macbeth, Expectation (z52), R. W. Macbeth, A Flood in the Fens (z53), and R. W. Macbeth, Miss Milly Fisher (z54) (cat. nos 78, 79, 84, 131, 133). Way's collection included watercolours and drawings by Burne Jones, MacBeth, and Whistler (see auction catalogue, London, Sotheby, 25 July 1916).