The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 1st Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1877
Record 10 of 119

System Number: 12077
Date: [19 November 1877][1]
Author: James Anderson Rose[2]
Place: London
Recipient: [unknown]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC
Document Type: MsDd

1877. W. No. 818
In the High Court of Justice
Queens Bench Division


Whistler }
v         }
Ruskin[4]   }


J Anderson Rose
11 Salisbury Street
Plts Solr [Plaintiff's Solicitor]

[p. 2] 1877. [11?]. No. 818

In the High Court of Justice
Queen's Bench Division

'Writt[5] [sic]'

Writ issued 28th July 1877

Between James Abbott McNeill Whistler
John Ruskin - Defendant

Delivered the 19th day of November 1877 by Mr James Ander

Statement of Claim

Delivered the 19th day of November 1877 by Mr James Anderson Rose of No. 11 Salisbury Street Strand in the Co[unt]y of Midd[lese]x Plts Solicitor

1 The Plaintiff is an Artist and sells Pictures painted by him

2 Shortly before the publication by the Defendant of the Libel hereinafter mentioned the Plaintiff had exhibited in a Gallery certain pict called the Grosvenor Gallery [6] certain Pictures // painted by the Plaintiff in a Gallery opened to the public by Sir Coutts Lindsay[7] on payment of an enhanced fee by Sir Coutts Lindsay // called the Grosvenor Gallery certain pictures painted by the plt.

[illegible word in left margin]

3 On or about the 2nd day of July 1877 the Defendant printed and published in a pamphlet called "Fors Clavigera[8]" the words following that is to say "Lastly the mannerisms and errors of these pictures" (Meaning some pictures by Mr Burne Jones[9]) "whatever may be their extent are never affected or indolent[.] The work is natural to the Painter however [p. 3] strange to us and it is wrought with utmost conscience of care however far to his own or our desire the result may yet be incomplete. Scarcely so much can be said for any other pictures of the Modern Schools - their eccentricities are almost always in some degree forced and their imperfections gratuitously if not impertinently indulged. For Mr Whistlers own sake no less than for the protection of the purchaser Sir Coutts Lindsay ought not to have admitted works into the Gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of the Artist so nearly approached the aspect of wilful imposture. I have seen and heard much of Cockney impudence before now but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask Two hundred guineas[10] for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face"


4. The expression Mr Whistler refers to the Plaintiff

5. The said Libel was falsely and maliciously printed and published by the Defendant of the Plaintiff. The Plaintiffs reputation as an Artist has been much damaged by the said Libel.

The Plaintiff claims
1 £1000
2. The Costs of this Action

The Plaintiff proposes that this Action be tried in the County of Middlesex

J Anderson Rose
11 Salisbury Street Strand
Plaintiffs Solicitor

'The special[12] damage can be proved I suppose. / [GW[13]?].'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [19 November 1877]
Date given in text of document.

2.  James Anderson Rose
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more]. This document was passed with JW's legal papers by Rose to the Library of Congress.

3.  '116'
Added, in a circle, in another hand, probably that of Rose.

4.  Ruskin
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more]. The case of Whistler v. Ruskin was heard at the Queen's Bench of the High Court on 25-26 November 1878.

5.  Writt
Added in left margin in another hand.

6.  Grosvenor Gallery
JW exhibited seven oils at the 1st Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1877 (cat. nos. 5, 6A, 6, 4, 8, 9): Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 113), Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140) as 'Nocturne in Blue and Silver', Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Westminster Bridge (YMSM 145), Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170), Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181) as 'Harmony in Amber and Black', Arrangement in Brown (YMSM 182) and Arrangement in Black, No. 3: Sir Henry Irving as Philip II of Spain (YMSM 187). Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137), was exhibited in the entrance gallery (ex. cat.)

7.  Coutts Lindsay
Sir Coutts Lindsay (1824-1913), Bart., co-founder of the Grosvenor Gallery [more].

8.  Fors Clavigera
Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213.

9.  Burne Jones
Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more].

10.  Two hundred guineas
This was the price of Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170).

11.  New
Written in left margin, in another hand.

12.  The special...GW
Written in left margin, in another hand.

13.  GW
Possibly George Webb (b. ca 1835), of G. and W. Webb. lawyer [more].