The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Document associated with: Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1859
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 06502
Date: 5 December [1858][1]
Author: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: Philadelphia
Recipient: James H. Gamble[3]
Place: [Staten Island]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: Whistler W497
Document Type: ALS

1205 Arch St

friday morning Dec 5th / '1858'

My dear friend

By Adams Express[4] today is sent my first St P journal[5], hoping it may not be too late for our beloved & revered Mrs Maxwells[6] visit as I know you will read to her with real Scotch expression the journal of my departed Sister Eliza[7] whom she knew personally as a wee bit girlie. I have been waiting to send this in hopes of my other St P J turning up, thinking to kill two birds with one stone. For I put off bustle & fatigue now. I hope the package may be delivered at your country house tomorrow safely. I ventured to slip in a book to hand in at the office of Braggiotti & Duclos[8] near yours, for my Cousin[9] at Pt Richmond. Yesterday having heard of letters being advertised for Mrs Whistler, Willie[10] went to the General P O. I was so glad one proved from our dear Mrs Maxwell, as I had been thinking sadly of her inability to write thro pain of rheumatism. Her last date in it was 24th Nov. She had recovered [p. 2] & hoped soon to spend some days with my dear friends[11] & hers at Vanderbilt, S. I. I shall write her when less hurried than today. My love to Mrs M & all your fireside circle. Willie would unite his with mine, as we are united in all that is essential thanks be to God. but he is as usual at the University, his improvement in every way all speaking of, his Preceptor[12] especially is encouraged & his mother more gratefully than any interested in him. On Saturday I was so delighted to get a letter from Jemie[13] dated Sloane St[14] Nov 14th where he says he expects to be all winter. His sister & brother[15] write me they are exerting all their energies to make him prefer London for works, to Paris. Will you ask dear Mrs Maxwell to write our Nyack Mrs M[16] of the desire Deborah expresses that I shall interest our friends to become subscribers to a set of etching views[17] of France & Germany, Jemies first complete works of the kind! twelve single sheets (Mr Haden who has superior Artistic judgement & taste thinks them of rare beauty) [p. 3] at two guineas a set, to be bound as a drawing room Album or framed as separate pictures, as subscribers may prefer. You must know the dear fellow during a pedestrian tour thro parts of France & Germany this Autumn was inspired by the beauty of nature, to sketch, then on his return to Paris to impress on copper plates the etchings[18] (Mr Haden happened to go to Paris, sought Jemie after he had attended to whatever took him there, was surprised at the beauty of his work, pained too to see him not taking care of his health & coaxed him into consenting to spend the winter in their home & realizing a competency from sale of his work. You may imagine my trembling anxiety, my earnest prayers that God may bless the endeavors of my pious daughter & her good husband, to settle Jemie's versatile genius at this crisis. Mr Haden warrants him 25 subscribers at two guineas each in London & depends upon my interesting 25 in Jemie's native land to subscribe. Debo urges me to circulate this project [p. 4] among 'old & new friends.' I have written several & think John S Maxwell[19] might like to encourage the son of his friend Major Whistler[20] if our Mrs M will write his mother of it. What can be done must be promptly communicated by me to Sloane St. Jemie writes enthusiastically of his expectations too from the exhibition in Paris[21]. But his dear fond Sister [writes] calmly, that to succeed he must obtain 50 subscribers. Mr Haden will forward safely to subscribers everywhere. In my haste to let you know I have sent the St P Journal, I must close this begging you not to criticize. My health is better & my eyes consequently stronger. Praise the Lord & bless His holy name for all His tender mercies towards the widow & the fatherless. My love to your revered Mother & sweet Sister[22]. respects to Mr Wann[23].

Always affectionately
your friend


The butter is excellent!

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  1858
'1858' was written at the beginning of the letter at a later date, in another hand. This date is confirmed by the reference to JW's etchings (see below). However, according to the almanac, 5 December 1858 was a Sunday.

2.  Anna Matilda Whistler
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

3.  James H. Gamble
James H. Gamble (b. 1820), clerk [more].

4.  Adams Express
Express delivery company originated by Alvin Adams of Norwich in 1840, and by William F. Harnden ( 1812-1845), a conductor on the Boston and Worcester Railroad in 1839. Adams and Harnden consolidated and formed the Adams Express Company in 1854. See Workers of the Federal Writer's Project of the Works Progress Administration for the State of Connecticut, Connecticut, 1938, p. 274.

5.  St P journal
The journal written by AMW in St Petersburg between 1843 and 1848, now in James McNeill Whistler Papers, New York Public Library.

6.  Maxwell
Ann Maxwell (1784-1867), née Young, wife of Robert Maxwell [more].

7.  Eliza
Eliza Isabella Winstanley (1788-1857), née McNeill, JW's aunt, AMW's half-sister [more].

8.  Braggiotti & Duclos
No such partnership is listed in the New York City Directory for 1858. In a later edition the names Braggiotti and Duclos were listed as follows: George M. Braggiotti, merchant, 60 Beaver, h. 80 East 29th Street, and Polydore Duclos, merchant, 41st Street; see New York City Directory for 1861, p. 99 and p. 101.

9.  Cousin
Probably Mary Corbett (b. 1804), cousin of AMW [more]; she must have been staying with her daughter, Elizabeth Duclos, née Corbett.

10.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more], was studying medicine at the Pennsylvania Medical School, Philadelphia, from which he graduated in 1860.

11.  dear friends
The family of James H. Gamble.

12.  Preceptor
James Darrach (1828-1869), physician in Philadelphia [more]; William McNeill Whistler studied with him (see #06485).

13.  Jemie
James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), artist [more].

14.  Sloane St
The London home of F. S. and D. D. Haden (see below).

15.  sister & brother
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more] and Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

16.  Mrs M
Probably Mrs Maxwell, probably the mother of J. S. Maxwell.

17.  etching views
In the autumn of 1858 JW went on an etching tour of the Rhineland and Northern France with his friend Ernest Delannoy, art student. Twelve Etchings from Nature, 1858 (the 'French Set,' K.9-11, 13-17, 19, 21, 22, 24), was published in London with the help of F. S. Haden to whom the set was dedicated. It was well received in both countries.

18.  impress on copper plates the etchings
JW drew some of the etchings for the 'French Set' on site, and some on his return from drawings made on his trip (see M.229-281, particularly The Kitchen (M.233), La Marchande de Poterie à Cologne (M.272) and La Marchande de Moutarde (M.273)). The etchings were proofed by Auguste Delâtre (1822-1907), printer, in Paris, and the edition was printed, with the help of Delâtre and Haden, in London.

19.  John S Maxwell
John S. Maxwell, secretary of the American Legation in St Petersburg in 1842 [more].

20.  Major Whistler
George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), engineer, JW's father [more].

21.  exhibition in Paris
Probably the Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1859; JW exhibited two etchings there from May to August 1859. 'Portrait de femme' (cat. no. 3673), may have been Mère Gérard (K.11), Fumette (K.13), or La Rétameuse (K.14). The other exhibit (cat. no. 3674) was La Marchande de Moutarde (K.22a).

22.  Mother & sweet Sister
Jane Gamble (1790-1864), mother of J. H. Gamble [more] and Jane Wann (1822-1875), née Gamble, wife of S. Wann [more].

23.  Wann
Samuel Wann (b. 1820), merchant, brother-in-law of J. H. Gamble [more].