The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1900
Record 28 of 41

System Number: 06260
Date: [8/22 October 1900][1]
Author: George and William Webb[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: Daily Chronicle[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W255
Document Type: MsDd[4]

The attention of Mr James McNeill Whistler has been called to a paragraph in your issue of the 6th Octr 1900 under the heading of "An Artistic Causerie" by M. H. Spielmann[5], in which referring to the Paris Exhibition it is stated that three Grand Prix awards were wrongfully given, and our client, Mr Whistler, (and with two other gentlemen) are is alluded to libellously as follows: -

(p. 2) "Others have been less particular ... and Mr Dagnan-Bouveret[6], M. Alfred Stevens[7] and Mr Whistler, who have all sent prohibited works for which the highest honours have been granted find themselves in the position of Defendants."

'This statement is absolutely, insomuch as it concerns Mr Whistler, false & libellous[8]'

The in[n]uendo is conveyed to readers of the paragraph that the gentlemen Mr Whistler who are is stated to be "Defendants" have has been guilty of a trick or fraud ("intrigue" it is called in another publication subscribed by Mr Spielmann, with (p. 3) which you have no concern) in respect of which they are on their trial.

Mr Whistler as an artist of distinction was specially invited to send his three pictures, the smallest of which "the White Girl"[9] was painted before 1889, and the other two, full lengths[10], were painted after, and as the award to him of the "highest honour", the Grand Prix, was telegraphed by a certificate attached (p. 4) to one of the latter, of all of which circumstances the writer must have been aware, he having been a member of the English Committee, the paragraph is peculiarly offensive and libellous, and Mr Whistler does not choose to remain under the stigma which it is endeavoured to place upon himignore this malicious calumny[11]..

He has therefore instructed us to call upon you, so far as you as the proprietors and printers (p. 5) of the paper are concerned, for an apology, to which such prominence shall be given, that none of the readers of the paragraph and those who may have read copies from it, may remain under the false impression it conveys.

Mr Whistler feels sure that neither you, nor the late Mr Thomas[12] would have admitted the paragraph, had it been brought to your or his notice, (p. 6) and we therefore omit the customary threat of proceedings in the event of non compliance, with the demand, and await a communication from you that you are ready to arrange the form and manner in which this shall be done submitting for our approval the apology.

We are Gentlemen
Your obedt Servants

Solicitors for Mr Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [8/22 October 1900]
This letter clearly dates from some time after 6 October, the date of the Chonicle's alleged libel; see also a draft apology, #00796, and similar letter to Messrs Cassell (#06261 and #06262).

2.  George and William Webb
JW's solicitors.

3.  MsDd
This is an official legal document which has been corrected and annotated by JW in pencil. The deletions are all JW's.

4.  Daily Chronicle
London Liberal daily newspaper. The libel concerned the Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1900.

5.  M. H. Spielmann
Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more].

6.  Mr Dagnan-Bouveret
Pascal-Adolphe-Jean Dagnan-Bouveret (1852-1929), naturalist painter [more].

7.  M. Alfred Stevens
Alfred Émile-Léopold Stevens (1823-1906), history and portrait painter [more].

8.  libellous
'This statement ... libellous' is written entirely in JW's hand.

9.  the White Girl
Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38).

10.  full lengths
JW exhibited Mother of Pearl and Silver: The Andalusian (YMSM 378) and Brown and Gold (YMSM 440).

11.  calumny
'The in[n]uendo is conveyed ... calumny' is deleted in criss-crossed pencil.

12.  Mr Thomas
Thomas, an editor or journalist.