The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 9th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1875
Record 5 of 14

System Number: 07888
Date: [2/19 December 1875[1]]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Alan Summerly Cole[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 1/17/4
Document Type: ALS

With real pleasure - the whole programme. But you must be here on Sunday morning at 12 - hungry for half past 12 o'clock breakfast sharp - Buckwheat Cakes! & molasses -

You will be pleased to hear that one of my much blaguarded [sic] "masterpieces["] [p. 2] Nocturne in Blue & Gold[3] has just sold itself to a total stranger (Percy Wyndham[4] - ) "for the price named in the catalogue" as the official note from the Dudley[5] informs me -

So you see this vicious art of butterfly flippancy is, in spite of the honest efforts of Tom Taylor[6], doing its poisonous work and even attacking the heart of the aristocracy as well as undermining the Working Classes!

[butterfly signature]

Ever yours,

J A McN Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [2/19 December 1875]
Dated by references to dinner invitations and the Dudley Gallery exhibition (see below). Cole dined with JW on 7 and 19 December 1875 (see #07888, and extracts from A. S. Cole's Diary, #13132).

2.  Alan Summerly Cole
Alan Summerly Cole (1846-1934), textile expert and museum official [more].

3.  Nocturne in Blue & Gold
Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Westminster Bridge (YMSM 145).

4.  Percy Wyndham
Percy Wyndham (1835-1911), collector [more].

5.  note from the Dudley
The painting was exhibited at the 9th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1875 (cat. no. 160), as 'Nocturne in Blue and Gold, No. 3', for sale at £210.0.0 (see #12861).

6.  Tom Taylor
Thomas ('Tom') Taylor (1817-1880), civil servant, dramatist, art critic, and editor of Punch from 1874-1880 [more]. See Taylor's review of the Dudley Gallery exhibition in The Times, 2 December 1875, p. 4: 'two of Mr. Whistler's "colour symphonies" - a "Nocturne in blue and gold," and a "Nocturne in black and gold." If he did not exhibit these pictures under peculiar and, what seem to most people, pretentious titles, they would be entitled to their due meed of admiration. But they only come one step nearer pictures than delicately graduated tints on a wall paper would do. Taken for what they are, and setting aside the evidence supplied by peculiar titles and unusual frames that the painter appraises them beyond their value, as pictures instead of mere tone studies, what Mr. Whistler calls his nocturnes and symphonies have a real beauty and suggestiveness of their own. Only he must not attempt, with that happy half-humorous audacity which all his dealing with his own works suggests, to palm off his deficiencies upon us as manifestations of power, and try to make us believe that this sort of thing is the one best worth doing, because it is the only thing he can do, or, at all events, cares for doing, in colour.' On the same day (2 December 1875), Cole and JW met for a 'tête-a-tête', when JW 'was very great on critics and their ignorance of facts, which must be either right or wrong and not matters of opinion' (extracts from A. S. Cole's Diary, #13132).