The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Royal Scottish Academy
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System Number: 04537
Date: 5 March 1883
Author: R. Stewart Patterson[1]
Place: Edinburgh
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P177
Document Type: ALS

1 Albyn Place, Edinburgh,

5 March 1883.


I have procured a Copy of your Catalogue "Etchings and Drypoints[2]," and having derived great pleasure from its perusal, I cannot deny myself the additional pleasure of stating (though perhaps there may be much temerity in attempting it) how much I admire your manliness in the courageous array of all the adverse criticisms passed upon your Etchings, which you have brought together in the Catalogue, - so entirely the opposite of what prevails now-a-days when everything is puffed to the last degree.

I have a great admiration for engravings and etchings, - a liking which is somewhat hereditary, as my Father-in-law, the late William Howison[3], an Associate of The Royal Scottish Academy, was the Engraver of Sir Wm Allan's[4] "Polish Exiles," Sir George Harvey's[5] (p. 2) "Covenanters Communion" and "The Curlers," and other well known pictures, and I derive about as much pleasure from contemplating a good print, but more especially one from an etched plate, as I do from a painting, because in the former there is the element of admiration for the mechanical difficulties which the Artist has had to cope with in order to give expression to his feeling. I have not yet seen any of your works, but I hope to have that pleasure when I pay a hurried visit to London as I generally do in October.

Will you please pardon me for indulging this enthusiasm so far as to have ventured to write to one to whom I am a complete stranger.

I have the honour to be
yours faithfully

R. Stewart Patterson.

J. McNeill Whistler Esq.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  R. Stewart Patterson
R. Stewart Patterson, son-in-law of W. Howison [more].

2.  Etchings and Drypoints
A reference to the catalogue of JW's current exhibition of Venice etchings, Mr Whistler's Etchings, The Fine Art Society, London, 1883. The exhibition opened on 17 February. In the catalogue, JW collected derogatory extracts from past reviews of his work and juxtaposed them with the titles of the etchings.

3.  William Howison
William Howison (1798-1850), engraver [more]. Howison was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1838.

4.  Sir Wm Allan's
Sir William Allan (1782-1850), history painter [more]. Allan's extensive travels in eastern Europe, including Russia and the Ukraine were often reflected in his work.

5.  Sir George Harvey's
Sir George Harvey (1806-1876), genre, history and landscape painter [more]. Harvey was known for his scenes of Scottish history, especially of the Covenanting period.