The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867
Record 3 of 31

System Number: 08145
Date: [13/20 February 1867][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Alfred Stevens[2]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/59/8
Document Type: ALS

2. Lindsey Row.
Old Battersea bridge
Chelsea -

Mon cher Stevens -

C'est vraiment comme lorsque l'on collectionne la porcelaine[3]! je vous assure qu'a mon grand regret je n'ai pu avoir une seule autre paire de chausettes de la nuance qui vous avait plu. J'ai pourtant fait un choix de ce qu'il y avait de plus joli, et j'espère que vous puissiez les trouver pas laid -

Mon frère[4] raporte avec lui le petit tableau[5] - je serai [p. 2] bien aise de le savoir dans le salon du Club[6] - Si vous avez le temps j'aimerai bien avoir de vous un petit mot pour me dire si il vous plait - Vous verrez bien que j'ai encore quelques petites choses à faire pour entièrement l'achever - les mains ne sont qu'indiquées - je toucherai aussi plus tard aux fleurs - aussi -

Mais comme tableau, ensemble, etc., c'est assez pour être vu par les artistes - Encore une fois laissez moi vous remercier [p. 3] de toutes les courtoisies que vous m'avez temoignés,

Je ne sais comment me pardonner pour tous les embarras que je vous cause -

J'espère bientot vour voir à Paris[7] où je crois encore faire une visite d'ici six semaines -

Tout a vous

J A McN Whistler -

Le tableau s'appelle
"Symphonie en blanc No 3."[8]

This document is protected by copyright.


2. Lindsey Row.
Old Battersea bridge
Chelsea -

My dear Stevens,

It is just the same as collecting porcelain! I assure you that to my great regret I could not find even one other pair of socks of the shade that you liked. I have nonetheless made a choice of what was best and I hope that you think they are not ugly.

My brother is bringing the little painting with him. I would be very glad to know that it was in the salon of the Club. If you have time I would very much like to have a little word from you to tell me if you like it. You will clearly see that I still have little things to do to complete it altogether - the hands are only sketched in - I shall also touch up the flowers later.

But as a painting, composition, etc., it's enough for it to be seen by artists. Once again, let me thank you for all the kindnesses that you have shown me.

I don't know how to forgive myself for all the trouble that I am causing you.

I hope to see you soon in Paris which I still think I shall visit in six weeks' time.

With warm regards,

J A McN Whistler

The painting is called
"Symphony in White No. 3."


1.  [13/20 February 1867]
This letter appears to date from shortly after a letter to JW from Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), artist [more], dated 12 February 1867 (#01083; see below).

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

3.  porcelaine
JW had been collecting blue and white chinese porcelain since 1863. Both he and Stevens incorporated oriental porcelain, costumes and other accessories in paintings, such as Stevens' oil, A. Stevens, Woman in Pink (z119) (1866, Musée d'Art Moderne, Brussels) and JW's Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56), started in 1864. In February 1867 JW considered enlarging it for the Salon.

4.  Mon frère
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

5.  tableau
Symphony in White, No. 3 (YMSM 61). Started in 1865, it was first exhibited in May 1867, by which time it was signed and dated. However, certain details, such as the flowers and draperies, may have been completed a year later, in 1868.

6.  Salon du Club
Fantin Latour told JW that one could only exhibit with the 'Club' on the invitation of a member of the committee, and would-be members were likely to need several month's residence in Paris; he described the picture as admired by Tissot and Degas, and said Stevens 'le trouvait très bien' (12 February 1867, #01083).

7.  à Paris
JW probably intended to bring several works for exhibition in Paris. He exhibited work both at the Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867, which opened on 1 April, and at the 85th exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1867, which opened on 15 April. He was certainly in Paris by the third week of April (the quarrel with F. S. Haden after the death of Traer took place on 23 April 1867).

8.  Symphonie en blanc No 3.
This is the first reference to the title of Symphony in White, No. 3 (YMSM 61). It was the first picture exhibited by JW with a musical title, at the 99th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1867.