The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: The Victorian Exhibition illustrating fifty years of Her Majesty's Reign, 1837-1887, New Gallery, London, 1891-92
Record 1 of 4

System Number: 09451
Date: [20/25 May 1884?][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Thomas Waldo Story[2]
Place: [Rome?]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/61/8
Document Type: ALS


Why are you not here - I do miss you so - My Show[3] is foolish and sad without you - and things are queer and I do want so much to talk to you! Edward the Prince[4] is most princely and superb on his steed with dignity and dainty work such as we alone can offer - We cannot do other - and the destiny of the pearl is of course ours!! - What will you! - We speak to the people a language they do not [p. 2] understand - and those about us who stutter and drivel are listened to with respect, and their common dulnesses [sic] accepted as eloquence and wisdom combined -

The little figure[5], lovely and light, is badly placed - and some monstrous matter of Browning fils[6], is lifted on high! - I am in bad odour with the Grosvenor[7] - and have been egregiously insulted - however - no matter - that we can see to - Meantime I have done my best with Beck[8] - Carr[9] is more or less out of it, poor chap - good natured but occupied with his plays -

Hallé[10] I have nothing to say to - and Sir Coutts[11] has been too horrid - without meaning to affront me - which makes it worse! - One's enemies one can deal with - one's friends are most dangerous - The fact is, Beck told me, that you were at a great disadvantage because of the late arrival of your things, (a sort of fatalité of ours my dear Waldo!) that all the good places were taken - they were by the way in a dreadful hurry about the Private View - and that now they cannot disarrange things -

I talked to him however - meeting him happily at the little Hogarth Club[12] eating his lunch - so that I could chat to him - and I took the tone of supposing that after all he [13] was the one who could do the thing while others were talking about the impossibility - Well he promised that when the little bronze girl[14] came (she wasn't there yesterday for I went in again purposely to see) he would do his best - I told him of course that it [p. 3] was absurd that the horrors should be on pedestals and that these two only lovely things in the Gallery should be comparatively elbowed about - and that it would be so easy just to move one thing and put another in its place - Well - well - nous verons[15][sic]! Every thing however is more or less dull without you - so do come over - do come -

I am tired[16] and disgusted - also really indignant - Since writing what they call "the Above", I have been with Harper[17] through the Academy - There is no word in the languages I am more or less in the habit of speaking that can at all convey an idea of the dodering [sic] senility and drivelling incapacity that have covered the walls of that Bazaar! - No matter - ! - Only how dare they discuss me at all! - My 'Lady Archie'[18] is magnificent - and how do you delight in the Catalogue[19] I have sent you? - Do like a dear good Waldo forgive all my horrid silence and write and tell me - You know I have never told you how nice and loyal it was in you to send at once all you had in the bank to me! - but you know I felt it deeply Waldo - and as little Milly[20] sings, "No matter what you do, if your 'art is only true - and his 'art is true!" - - - - !

Julian[21] I have seen - The Madame[22] has three water color flowers in the Grosvenor!! - very[23] fine

Oscar[24] is awfully fat and is to be married on Thursday

Goodbye Waldo for the present - My kindest and best regards and Compliments to Mrs Waldo[25]

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [20/25 May 1884?]
Dated from references to Maud Franklin and Oscar Wilde (see notes below).

2.  Waldo Story
Thomas Waldo Story (1854-1915), sculptor [more].

3.  Show
'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884.

4.  Edward the Prince
Albert Edward Saxe-Coburg (1841-1910), H.R.H. The Prince of Wales [more]. The comment suggests that Story had done a statue of him.

5.  little figure
W. Story, A Statuette in Bronze (z186) was exhibited by Story in 8th Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1884 (cat. no. 426).

6.  Browning fils
Robert Barrett Browning (1846-1912), genre painter and sculptor [more] exhibited two bronze busts at the Grosvenor in 1884, the second entitled J. B. Browning, Pompilia (z185) (cat. nos. 423-4).

7.  Grosvenor
8th Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1884.

8.  Beck
John W. Beck (fl. 1861-1895), landscape painter [more].

9.  Carr
Joseph Williams Comyns Carr (1849-1916), art critic and theatre manager [more].

10.  Hallé
Charles Edward Hallé (1846-1919), artist [more].

11.  Sir Coutts
Sir Coutts Lindsay (1824-1913), Bart., co-founder of the Grosvenor Gallery [more], had expressed to JW his feeling that Arrangement en couleur chair et noir: Portrait de Théodore Duret (YMSM 252), looked unfinished.

12.  Hogarth Club
A gentleman's dining club, frequented by artists and those interested in the visual arts.

13.  he
Double underlined.

14.  bronze girl
A statuette by Story.

15.  nous verons
Fr., we shall see.

16.  I am tired
The rest of the letter was completed by JW in smaller writing.

17.  Harper
Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington (1854-1920), artist [more].

18.  Lady Archie
Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242).

19.  Catalogue
The brown paper covered catalogue for 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884.

20.  little Milly
Possibly a music hall singer, not identified.

21.  Julian
Julian Russell Story (1850-1919), genre and portrait painter [more]. This is cross-written at the top of p. 3.

22.  Madame
Mary Maud Franklin (1857- ca 1941), JW's model and mistress [more]; she exhibited three watercolours of flowers at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1884: Sweet Peas, (cat. no. 298); Twin Marguerites, (cat. no. 376) and Marguerites, (cat. no. 377).

23.  very
'very' is double underlined.

24.  Oscar
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more]. Wilde wrote to Story, whom he, like JW, addressed as 'Waldino', describing his engagement to Constance Lloyd: 'we are of course desperately in love ... However, she knows I am the greatest poet, so in literature she is all right: and I have explained to her that you are the greatest sculptor: art instruction can go no further' (#12626; Holland, Merlin and Rupert Hart-Davis, eds, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde, London, 2000, p. 225-26). The marriage took place on 29 May 1884.

25.  Mrs Waldo
Ada Maud Story (1856-1932), née Broadwood [more].