UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

return to search results

Documents associated with: Boulevard, Le (Paris)
Record 2 of 2

System Number: 00537
Date: 20 June 1863
Author: Étienne Carjat[1]
Place: Paris
Recipient: JW
Place: [London][2]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C38
Document Type: ALS[3]


LE BOULEVARD[4]
JOURNAL HEBDOMADAIRE ILLUSTRÉ
56, RUE LAFFITTE
DIRECTION

PARIS,

LE 20 Juin 1863

'Mon cher Whistler[5]'

Mon cher Whistler

Tu recevras d'ici à quelques jours tes portraits et tes cartes.[6]

Maintenant j'ai un service important[7] à te demander. - Rassure-toi, il s'agit d'une lettre à m'écrire - Voici ce que je désire.

Tu m'écris de Londres que tu as montré ton portrait[8] à un riche Anglais de tes amis, qui avait dejà remarqué mes splendides photographies - ne ris pas, et fais attention aux soulignés - à l'exposition de Paris[9]. Tu m'avertis que cet Anglais toujours très riche - invente un nom quelconque - [p. 2] a envie de faire une concurrence 'concurrence[10]' sérieuse à Silvie[11], et que si je suis libre, ou si je puis me libérer, il est tout prêt à s'associer avec moi en me donnant 50 livres d'appointements par mois et me laissant 65% - sur les bénéfices de l'affaire, sauf à augmenter mes appointements comme gérant en cas de succès.

[sketch of face][12]

Invite-moi, même, à faire un petit voyage à Londres d'une huitaine, pour voir la personne et tâter le terrain - Pour la vraisemblance, donne-moi quelques indications pour l'hôtel à descendre, l'itinéraire à suivre etc - on croira que c'est arrivé

Dès que j'aurai reçu ta lettre, je la montre sous un prétexte quelconque à un monsieur qui est - je le sais - l'âme damnée de mon bailleur de fonds et [p. 3] qui se hâtera de lui faire part du contenu de ta lettre.

Peut-être qu'alors Mr. Capital ayant peur pour son sac, finira par augmenter mes ridicules appointements ou tout au moins par m'aider à payer les dettes du Boulevard.

Je suis tellement découragé aujourd'hui, mon cher ami, mes créanciers ont fondu sur moi avec une telle unanimité, que j'enrage de voir la caisse de ma boutique s'emplir et ne pouvoir pas y puiser seulement un billet de 500 f. pour me tirer d'embarras.

Ecris-moi vite la lettre que je te demande, sois aussi spirituel que d'habitude, et si ton style persuasif reste sans effet, eh bien alors je te prierai de chercher sérieusement ce que je te demande [p. 4] à titre d'hypothèse aujourd'hui, et je suis bien décidé à tenter fortune par la photographie, soit en Angleterre soit ailleurs.

Pardonne-moi la corvée que je t'impose, mais cette plaisanterie, cette ruse de guerre, veux-je dire, peut réussir à me tirer du pétrin[13] où je suis fourré momentanément.

Je te serre bien cordialement la main.

Ton ami.

Etienne Carjat

56, Rue Laffitte

PS - Ecris-moi sans ajouter la mention de photographe - car en ce cas on pourrait décacheter la lettre.

Surtout pour qu'on ne soupçonne pas que je t'ai écrit, réclame dans ta lettre avec instance les portraits et les cartes que l'on doit t'envoyer -

Il est bien[14] entendu que cette lettre ne doit être lue que par toi.

'Carjay [sic]. Photographer[15]' [sketch of an arch]


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

My dear Whistler

You will receive your portraits and your cards in a few days.

Now I have an important favour to ask of you - Do not worry, it concerns a letter to be written to me - This is what I would like.

You [will] write to me from London that you have shown your portrait to one of your rich English friends who has already seen my splendid photographs - do not laugh, and note the words underlined - at the exhibition in Paris. You inform me that this Englishman - invent any name - still very rich [p. 2] wishes to set up in serious competition with Silvie, and that if I am free, or if I can become free, he is quite ready to establish a business with me, giving me 50 pounds salary per month and leaving me 65% of the profits of the business, but increasing my salary as manager in case of success.

Invite me, even, to pay a short visit to London for a week, to see the person and test the water - For verisimilitude, give me a few details about the hotel to use, the itinerary to follow etc - they will believe it has happened.

When I receive your letter, I will show it under some pretext or other to a gentleman who is - I know - the my backer's henchman and [p. 3] who will rush to tell him the contents of your letter.

Perhaps then Mr Capital fearing for his wallet, will finally raise my ridiculous salary or at least help me to pay the debts for the Boulevard.

I am so disheartened today, my dear friend, my creditors have overwhelmed me in such force that I am furious to see my shop till filling up without even being able to take out a 500 f. note to relieve my difficulties.

Quickly write the letter that I am asking for, be as eloquent as usual, and if your persuasive style has no effect, then I shall beg you to search seriously for what I am asking for [p. 4] today hypothetically, and I am determined to try my fortune in photography, whether in England or elsewhere.

Forgive me for the burden I am laying on you, but this joke, this military manoeuvre, I should say, could succeed in pulling me out of the fix I am in temporarily -

Warmest greetings -
Your friend.

Etienne Carjat

56 Rue Laffitte

PS - Write to me without referring to [me as] photographer - because the letter might be opened if you do

Above all so that nobody suspects that I have written to you, make urgent requests in your letter for the portraits and cards that are to be sent to you.

It is of course understood that this letter is to be read only by you -

'Carjay [sic]. Photographer' [sketch of an arch]


Notes:

1.  Etienne Carjat
Etienne Carjat (1828-1906), photographer, journalist, designer and caricaturist [more]. In 1860 he opened a photographic studio at 56 rue Laffitte, which he operated for 20 years.

2.  [London]
JW must have seen Carjat when he was in Paris in April, but by this time was back in London.

3.  ALS
Published in MacDonald, Margaret F. and Joy Newton, 'Letters from the Whistler Collection (University of Glasgow). Correspondance with French Painters,' Gazette des Beaux Arts, no. 128, December 1986, pp. 201-214, at pp. 201-202.

4.  LE BOULEVARD
In 1862 Carjat started the illustrated weekly paper Le Boulevard, which ceased publication two years later.

5.  Mon cher Whistler
Written in a different hand above the original, which is rather faint.

6.  tes portraits et tes cartes.
Two cartes-de-visite, taken at Carjat's studio, are now in Glasgow University Library (Whistler PH1/95, 96; see also Margaret F. MacDonald, Sun Pictures and Other Historic Photographs, exhibition catalogue, Glasgow University Library, 1983, cat. no. 29).

7.  important
Double underlined.

8.  ton portrait
It is not clear if Carjat is talking about a painting JW was trying to sell in London, or a picture he himself knew, such as Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38) which was still in Paris, having been recently exhibited at the Salon des Refusés (Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, gravure, lithographie et architecture, refusés par le Jury de 1863, et exposés, par décision de S. M. l'Empereur, au salon annexe, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1863).

9.  exposition de Paris
Carjat was awarded a medal for his photographs at the Paris Salon in 1863.

10.  concurrence
Written in another hand.

11.  Silvie
Possibly Camille Silvy or de Silvy (1834-1910), diplomat turned photographer [more].

12.  Sketch of face
Drawn in left hand margin, possibly by Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more], who annotated the letter many years later (see below).

13.  pétrin
Carjat complained of poverty and the demands on his generosity but continued to entertain lavishly.

14.  Il est bien ... par toi
Written in left margin.

15.  Carjay [sic]. Photographer
Written in top left corner by Beatrix Whistler, who almost certainly drew the arch in the margin below. She married JW in 1888 and sorted out his business papers after that date, frequently doodling on the papers.