The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 6th Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1882
Record 7 of 12

System Number: 09541
Date: [17 May 1882][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Edmund Yates[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
Document Type: ALS

Atlas -

In spite of the Kyrle Society[3], I dont appeal to the middle classes - for I read in the Times, that 'Arry[4] won't have me. - I am ranked with the Caviare of his betters, and add not to the relish of his winkles and tea. -

Also, why troubles he about many things? -

But alas! as is aptly remarked in one of the weekly paper, "'Arry has taken to going to the Grosvenor[5]"; and "ce n'est[6] pas tout que d'être honête, he says lightly, paraphrasing Alfred de Musset[7], il faut être joli garçon". - And so he blooms into an æsthete of his own order. - To have seen him, O, my wise Atlas, was my privilege and my misery; [p. 2] for he stood under one of my own "harmonies" - already with difficulty gasping its gentle breath - himself an amazing "arrangement" in strong mustard-and-cress, with birds-eye belcher of Reckitt's blue[8]; and then and there destroyed absolutely, unintentionally, and once for all, my year's work!

Atlas, shall these things be? -

[butterfly signature]

J. McNeill. Whistler

London -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [17 May 1882]
Dated from publication in The World, 17 May 1882 (republished in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890, pp. 72-3).

2.  Edmund Yates
Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894), novelist, 'Atlas' columnist and editor-proprietor of the World [more].

3.  Kyrle Society
John Kyrle (1637-1724), philanthropist [more], whose memory was preserved by the Kyrle Society, founded in 1877 to better the lot of working people by laying out parks, encouraging home decoration, window boxes and the growing of flowers. They believed in the refining and cheering influence of natural and artistic beauty in the home.

4.  'Arry
Henry ('Arry') Quilter (1851-1907), advocate and art critic [more].

5.  Grosvenor
Scherzo in Blue: The Blue Girl (YMSM 226) and Harmony in Black and Red (YMSM 236) were exhibited at 6th Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1882.

6.  ce n'est
'ce n'est ... honête' and 'il faut ... garçon', Fr., it's not everyone who can be honest; one must also be a pretty boy.

7.  Alfred de Musset
Louis Charles Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), writer [more].

8.  belcher of Reckitt's blue
A conspicuous neckerchief, treated with Reckitt's blue, a laundry whitener and one of the first widely-marketed laundry products manufactured by Reckitt and Sons (established 1840 in Hull). They began producing it in 1852, and as it was produced from synthetic ultramarine and sodium bicarbonate, it was available cheaply and to the masses.