The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1900
Record 32 of 41

System Number: 06262
Date: [December 1900/January 1901][1]
Author: George and William Webb[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: Messrs Cassell[3]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W256a
Document Type: MsLd[4]

Messrs Cassell
La Belle Sauvage
Ludgate Hill

Mr Whistlers attention has been directed to a statement called "a protest" at the commencement on the front page of the November number of "the Magazine of Art", and he has instructed us to write you at once upon the subject. - We regret that you should have allowed in any publication of yours Mr Whistler to be (p. 2) associated with an accusation of intrigues and unfairness and labelled him as an offender in the obtaining of the International honors referred to in the paragraph. -

It is true that a little slip has been placed in the Magazine in front of the protest but it bears no heading to show to what it relates and it has the appearance of an advertisement which few people would read. - In consequence it has not been seen by people who have seen the protest and it was (p. 3) only by accident that its presence was discovered. - This note shows that the Editor had become aware of the libellous nature of the protest, but whilst pointing out that he did not wish to convey the belief that the gentlemen whom he selects for attack had knowledge of an improper exhibition of their paintings he repeats his accusation of impropriety and concludes with an offensive remark that shows the spirit in which the libel was couched. -

(p. 4) As a fact, Mr Whistler, as an Artist of distinction, was invited to exhibit, and the small picture "The White Girl[5]" was asked for as well as two large pictures[6] painted since 1889, and it was to one of these latter that the Certificate of the Prix d'Honneur was affixed. This highest honour was therefore clearly given, to the knowledge of the Editor, who was a member (p. 5) of the English Committee) for the work which came within the regulations that he states existed.

As Mr Whistler then is entirely blameless in the matter, he has instructed us to call upon you, so far as the you being proprietors and printers of the paper are concerned, for an apology, to which much prominence shall be given


(p. 6) in the Magazine and elsewhere that none of the readers of the paragraph or copies from it may remain under the false impression it conveys.

We accordingly await a Communication from you that you are ready to arrange the form and manner in which this shall be done

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [December 1900/January 1901]
Dated from recipient and reference to Magazine of Art (see note below). This relates to a similar letter, #06261, which is written on the verso of this document.

2.  George and William Webb
JW's solicitors.

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

4.  Messrs Cassell
Publishers of the Magazine of Art. The alleged libel concerned the Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1900, and first appeared in 'The Grand Prix for Painting at the Paris Exhibition - A Protest,' Magazine of Art, November 1900, p. 1. An apology of sorts was published in February 1901 (see 'Mr Whistler and the Paris Exhibition in 'Chronicle of Art - February,' Magazine of Art, February 1901, p. 189) to which Webb appears to be referring in this letter.

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

6.  two large pictures
Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1900, at which JW exhibited Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38), Mother of Pearl and Silver: The Andalusian (YMSM 378) and Brown and Gold (YMSM 440).

7.  over
Double underlined.