The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886
Record 3 of 54

System Number: 08635
Date: [1/14 May 1884?][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Charles William Dowdeswell[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Rare Books and Manuscripts Division
Document Type: ALS

Stuff instead of Colour'

Dear Mr Dowdeswell -

You propose coming to me tomorrow morning at 10. o'clock - but if fine I shall be on the Embankment painting[4] away for dear life - however it is only a step and you could easily find me for the servant here will tell you where I stand -

If you like however to come instead in the evening at about 4. or 5 o'clock here it would I think be better - About this [p. 2] mornings telegram[5] - Cannot stop now to say more than that among things of I supposed of [sic] no importance I had given away, I trace two water color drawings meant for our Show!!!

One of a long pier at Southend [6]
The other a little evening of Erith[7] -

Smoky "lurid" sky -

They look ragged enough - and hence mistake - but little beauties in their frames - By chance discovered had been sold to you, happily, by an elderly [lady?] into whose hands they came, so thats all right I hope -

Here are their frames waiting for them, so do send back at once - and the little sum, five or six pounds you paid for the small collection, we will have to put down to me as one of my charities! -

Herewith meanwhile slight plan of walls of our Arrangement in Flesh & Gray![8]

Take great care of it and let me have it [p. 3] back to complete other details - hangings and so on -

Better come tomorrow evening 5. to 6. o'clock -


J McN Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [1/14 May 1884?]
This dates from shortly before the private view of 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884, on 17 May.

2.  Charles W. Dowdeswell
Charles William Dowdeswell (1832-1915), art dealer [more].

3.  Catalogue ... Colour
Cross-written in another hand in the top right corner. This may refer to the decoration of Dowdeswell's gallery for the exhibition (see description in #10020).

4.  Embankment painting
Pictures of Chelsea at this time included Old Shop, Chelsea; pink and grey (M.951) and The Little Grocery, Chelsea; grey and red (M.952), and A Chelsea street (M.953), which shows Cheyne Walk by the Embankment. Terrey's Fruit Shop, Chelsea (M.1002), of a shop seen from the Embankment, probably dates from a little later, as does JW's one specific view, Pink and silver - Chelsea, the Embankment (M.1058), exhibited in the second Dowdeswell show in 1886.

5.  telegram
Not traced.

6.  pier at Southend
Grey and silver - Pier, Southend (M.890). Although JW called them 'ragged', E. W. Godwin specifically praised the 'precision and dexterity' of this watercolour (Godwin, Edward W., 'To Art Students, Letter No. 9,' The British Architect, XXII, 11 July 1884, p. 13).

7.  evening of Erith
Erith - Evening (M.884). Both watercolours were indeed included in the exhibition (cat. nos. 62 and 14 respectively) but it is not known if JW or Dowdeswell benefitted financially.

8.  Arrangement in Flesh & Gray!
The exhibition was given an abstract title just as many of the paintings were.