The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 5th Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1895
Record 13 of 13

System Number: 09736
Date: 2 February 1896
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[1]
Place: New York
Repository: New York Public Library
Call Number: E. G. Kennedy II/73
Credit Line: Edward Guthrie Kennedy Papers / Manuscripts and Archives Division / The New York Public Library / Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Document Type: ALS

36. Tite Street - Chelsea - London -

Feb. 2. 1896.

My dear Kennedy O K! -

You may well imagine that things have been far from what we any of us wish, or you would have heard from us, or certainly from me long ago -       From the date above you see that we are still in this detested London - and here we remain - not having been strong enough, at the time we thought of it, to cross over to you - - And now the voyage is no longer necessary -

We were going to New York that we might put ourselves under the care of a great Medicine Man - for we begin to find [p. 2] that nearly everything new and wise & true comes from America! - even physic! - However the journey would have been terribly trying - for my wife was very weak at the time - Happily in our trouble we discovered a rare disciple here, who had sat at the feet of the Master - So we gave ourselves over to him - and under his untiring care we are steadily progressing - And our visit to you is postponed - -

Meanwhile it is still an anxious time - and one in which work is, and has been, for months quite impossible -

You have doubtless heard though of the exhibition of the lithographs at the Fine Arts Society[2] - Really it will make you quite jealous - for the success was quite stupendous - They sold a matter of £600 right off in the first two or three week[s] - and expect to run over the 1000 directly! Now you know you could do nothing at all in New York with them! - and you never want more than two unhappy little proofs at a time! - While here the Ways[3] have been hard at work printing by the score from each stone as called for - Many of them in the gallery you see marked "Sold out"!! -

Never mind O K! you are firmly installed as "friend of the family" over there - and we know that we could not have a truer and a warmer one! So thats all right - and it isn't your fault if the New Yorkers only care for what has been run over here first - So that doubtless your unblushing show of the Trilbiann Truck[4] has been a brazen success. Nevertheless I shall send you a modest little parcel of new lithographs - two apiece I suppose - and you can send me cheque - for I need not tell you that money was never more required! - & The F. A. S. have a mighty good mouthful out of the [p. 3] show! - Doctors & Hotels & absence from home & studio!! - But all this is nothing beside the health of our Lady[5] in whose happiness is all our hope & joy & invention! - As well you know -

Before now you will have received a head, sent over to N. Y. in a box of their own things by little Thomson[6] of Goupils - and delivered to you -

The head is called "A Crimson Note, Carmen[7]" - an oil painting marked on the invoice at £299 - with one pound for the frame - It was exhibited here at the New Gallery[8] this autumn and made a good deal of noise - Send for Stanford White[9] first and show it to him - He was most anxious to see it - for MacMonnies[10] had told him all about it - He probably will see that it is bought - You ought to like it - It is a fine Whistler - a lovely colour -

Of course get a glass for it, first, and dust and polish the painting with a beautiful old soft silk handkerchief - You know - You ought to get me 300 guineas for it - & you to have 10. per cent. as usual - or under these circumstances of ....... I will take 250 gs. down - & you shall ask what you like for the picture - Of course all this is between ourselves - & here is at last your occasion of "not allowing a soul to know anything" about it!! - but you must see to something O K! -

Have you found no one eager for the Firewheel[11]?! -

Well and now you know how we have thanked you for all your kindness and promptness about the Papine[12]! - The two bottles came all right and we were most grateful - And I sat down & wrote a beautiful letter to each of the gentlemen who were good enough to take special care of them - which by the way they did most thoroughly, & with the utmost courtesy delivered them with every precaution instantly they arrived! - Since then we have been enabled to go on with [p. 4] some that a chemist in Bond Street imported - but you know the Britisher is a slow cuss & his order was a very tiny & timorous one - so I cabled to you the other evening for two more bottles - I trust you will have been in time for the Saturdays steamer -

I must let this go now - with all our kindest regards - and thanks - and best wishes -
Always Yours Sincerely

J McNeill Whistler

I think you had perhaps better send back the Fire Wheel - though first show it also to Stanford White - He ought to get it for a Museum - Let me hear concerning these things -

This document is protected by copyright.


'Feb. 2. 1896'[13]

E. G. Kennedy. Esq
Messrs Wunderlich
686. or 868. Broadway -
New York.
U. S. A.
[stamp:] POSTAGE & REVENUE / 2 1/2d
[postmark:] KENSINGTON W. / 6.PM / FE 3 / 96
[postmark on verso:] O / N. Y. / 2 15-96 / 2-1 H
[postmark on verso:] P.O.N.Y. / PAID ALL / C / 2 - 1[7?] - 96 / 12 M


1.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more]. JW called him O'K. See his reply, 18 February 1896, #07263.

2.  Fine Arts Society
Mr Whistler's Lithographs, The Fine Art Society, London, 1895.

3.  Ways
Thomas Way (1837-1915), lithographic printer [more]; and Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913), printer, lithographer and painter [more].

4.  Trilbiann Truck
An exhibition of drawings by George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier (1834-1896), author and caricaturist [more], relating to his novel: Du Maurier, George, 'Trilby,' Harper's New Monthly Magazine, serialised, begun 1 January 1894; reprinted (expunged) as Trilby: A Novel, New York, 1894; regular ed., London and New York, 1895.

5.  Lady
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. She was terminally ill with cancer.

6.  Thomson
David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more].

7.  A Crimson Note, Carmen
Crimson note: Carmen (YMSM 441). Kennedy did not like it; see #07263.

8.  New Gallery
5th Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1895.

9.  Stanford White
Stanford White (1853-1906), architect [more].

10.  MacMonnies
Frederick William MacMonnies (1863-1937), sculptor [more].

11.  Firewheel
Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169).

12.  Papine
A brand of opiate patent medicine produced by Battle & Co., Chemists, St Louis, MO. This would lessen Beatrix Whistler's pain, or help her sleep.

13.  Feb. 2. 1896
Written in another hand.