The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Jubilee Art Exhibition, Academy of Arts, Berlin, 1886
Record 4 of 5

System Number: 00930
Date: 21 October 1886
Author: Helen Lenoir[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler D136
Document Type: ALS



Oct 21 1886

Dear Mr Whistler

I telegraphed you yesterday - directly I got your note - to tell you I regretted I was compelled to be absent in the evening owing to an engagement already made and saying I should much like to see you between 4 & 5 today if convenient to you - As there is nothing from you this morning I don't feel sure whether you [p. 2] are coming or not - but if this afternoon does not suit you perhaps you will look in this evening?

I should like to see you to have a little talk because I must confess I feel rather hurt at the things you have said in one or two of your last notes[2], and which (although they are as usual charmingly put!) seem to me to mean that you are disatisfied [sic] with what is being done in your business. Now I propose to be perfectly [p. 3] frank with you. If you have any sort of feeling of this sort Mr Carte[3] & myself both value too much the pleasant pleasure of the intercourse we have had with you as a friend to risk losing it by any business relations which might lead to disatisfaction [sic] on your part. I think that you know that one object hitherto in looking after your business has been to please you - because it was a real pleasure to us to do so - but if instead of pleasing you our business relations are to cause the slightest feeling on your part of annoyance, I tell you frankly that I had much rather simply do everything I can to help you in a friendly way, and assist you in placing the American business in the hands of some one else. I have looked forward as you know to doing this American business for you - but I had infinitely rather see some one else do it than have our hitherto pleasant relations disturbed - and that is [p. 4][4] exactly Mr Carte's feeling too -

Now, as to your complaints - you write me saying you ought to have had a gold medal at Berlin[5] & we should have arranged it. But why did you not write me sooner saying what you wished done? I[6] did not know there were any gold medals to be given - I had not sent your pictures there - nor have I any special influence there - moreover [p. 5] I had no idea you attached the smallest importance to a medal. A word from you to Mr Rennell Rodd[7] in good time would have done more than anything I could say. However as I told you I wrote to Mr Rodd as soon as you said you wished me to do so -

About the World letters[8] etc - I took a great deal of trouble in this matter - I finally sent you down all the volumes asking you kindly to send me a list of the papers I should [p. 6] purchase to complete the selection. You have never sent me the list - nor taken any notice - surely this delay is certainly on your side?

About the photographs[9], you said you would let me know which of the negatives were satisfactory to you and I offered to see Dowdeswell[10] about the business part when you should let me know which of the photographs you passed as approved. But you have never written me anything further on the matter.

I have been expecting to hear from you as to how many of your pictures you have succeeded in getting for America - These are matters which only you yourself can do.

On your arrival in America, we of course proposed to have a manager engaged to attend entirely to your business - he would also have to work the business up prior to your arrival - I have at present got Mr Moseman[11] there whom I have kept now for many months [p. 7] doing very little except attend to your business.

It is possible that my going across may be delayed a few weeks owing to the continued success of the "Mikado"[12] which delays the new opera production. It is this also which makes me anxious, as if your Tour had to begin before my arrival and you were not satisfied with the way everything was done, I should feel extremely [p. 8] unhappy about it.

Now I want you to consider all I have said and to tell me exactly how you would feel most satisfied in having things arranged - You may feel perfectly sure that whatever will be best for your success will be what will please Mr Carte & myself best, and that whatever it is decided to do I shall work just as hard to get things arranged in the best way for you. I think I mentioned the Redpath[13] [p. 9] bureau to you. I wrote Mr Carte after seeing the manager[14] in Boston on your business & I think Mr Carte sent you their letter. They take no risk but they were willing to do the Tour on a percentage. They are first rate people. There is also our friend Major Pond[15], who (if certain stipulations were made) would work it energetically.

The difficulty is to get any responsible person in America who will take the risk - I doubt if there is any one - You will understand Mr Carte is as ready as ever to take the risk - but what we should want to feel sure about is your being contented with things as we do them.

I have written this letter right off, and I daresay it is not very clearly expressed - but when we meet I can explain anything.

Sincly Yours

Helen Lenoir

P S. I can cable today to the Redpath people -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Helen Lenoir
Helen Lenoir (1852-1913), née Coupar Black, actress and stage manager [more].

2.  notes
Not located.

3.  Mr Carte
Richard D'Oyly Carte (1844-1901), impresario and property developer [more].

4.  [p. 4]
Lenoir has labelled this sheet '2' in the top left corner, although it is actually the fourth page of text. Similarly, page seven has been labelled '3'. The same letterhead appears on all three sheets, but has not been transcribed each time.

5.  gold medal at Berlin
It is not clear what painting JW thought deserved a medal.

6.  I
Double underlined.

7.  Mr Rennell Rodd
James Rennell Rodd (1858-1941), 1st Baron Rennell, poet and diplomat [more].

8.  World letters
It is not known what letters from the World JW wanted. She had sent JW American press-cuttings on 16 October 1886 (#00929).

9.  the photographs
JW had some photographs of work in the studio done, but for what purpose is not clear.

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

11.  Mr Moseman
Frank Moseman, clerk to the d'Oyly Carte agency in New York.

12.  Mikado
Gilbert and Sullivan's famous opera, The Mikado, which was a tremendous success. The opera opened on 14 March 1885 in the Savoy Theatre, London. The first production ran for 672 performances over nearly two years.

13.  Redpath
Redpath Lyceum Bureau: possibly they could have arranged venues for a lecture tour.

14.  manager
Perhaps George Henry Hathaway (1843-1931), President of the Redpath Lyceum Bureau [more].

15.  Major Pond
James Burton Pond (1838-1903), a Major of volunteers during the American Civil War, who ran lecture tours in the USA [more].