UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Standard, The (London)
Record 20 of 31

System Number: 09448
Date: 19 November [1902][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Samuel Henry Jeyes[2]
Place: [London]
Call Number: Published[3]
Document Type: PL


UNE DERNIERE INCARNATION.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE STANDARD.

Sir, -

If there be any wit or intention in your expert's complaint that he had seen "the small Whistler" in the New Gallery before, it is in the conveyed insinuation that the work is an old one, and has been continually thrust upon him in the many shows he, in watchful duty, frequents - in short, that he recognizes the picture as a species of Exhibition hack, and, no longer able to tolerate such fraud, sternly exposes it:- "...a child in a red cap, the Little Cardinal[4], which we do not see for the first time...." No! nor, indeed, for the second; nor, as who should say, for the twentieth.

Now, as a matter of mere fact, the Little Cardinal is, in her absolute childhood and complete inexperience of these very sharp gentlemen, only yesterday returning from the Paris Salon, where, in brilliant company, she received her baptism. And this is the first Gallery in the Island in which she makes her appearance, and the busy and correct one has hitherto never set eyes on her! For to frankly say that it was his privilege to be presented to her in her cradle the other day, in the Champ de Mars[5], was certainly not the intention of this upright and unhesitating Master Podsnap[6] - and surely Podsnap it is, with his convinced emphasis and angry innuendo. Oh, but Podsnap is beautiful! Make me your compliments, Sir, on having found him, and I will congratulate you on your all-important paper being the first to record it. Podsnap General, Podsnap Financier, Podsnap Statesman we know, but it is my joy to have perceived our old friend in his last incarnation, and I nearly felt the apple of Newton[7] thump upon my head in the delightful abruptness of discovery.

Podsnap then, Podsnap in crimson tie of The Schools, "The Red Badge of Culture[8]," but Podsnap still, pervades the Press, and, in another paper this morning, a brother, determined that foreign trick is being played upon the family, appeals to his memory, and his memory does not serve him better than do his eyes! And so he commits perfidious little Podsnap paragraphs, and hints at a funny sort of unfairness in the reappearance of a painting he has placed in former Galleries, and from a parochial point of view, Podsnap indignantly holds that this is "not the game - not cricket!" and that a picture, once seen, should never be looked at again.

Which is sometimes monstrous true.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant.

J. McNeill Whistler.

Chelsea,

November 19.


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Notes:

1.  19 November [1902]
This letter was published in 1902 (see below).

2.  Samuel Henry Jeyes
Samuel Henry Jeyes (d. 1911), author and journalist.

3.  Editor
Unidentified.

4.  Published
Published in Whistler, James McNeill, 'Une Dernière Incarnation,' The Standard, 21 November 1902, and reprinted in several other newspapers. JW collected the correspondence in Whistler, James McNeill, An Interrupted Correspondence, Chelsea, 1902 [GM, A.25].

5.  Little Cardinal
Grenat et or: Le Petit Cardinal (YMSM 469).

6.  Champ de Mars
12th Exhibition, Ouvrages de Peintures, Sculpture, Dessin, Gravure, Architecture et Objets d'Art, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1902.

7.  Master Podsnap
John Podsnap was the pompous self-satisfied character of Charles Dickens's novel Our Mutual Friend, London, 1864. JW is alluding to Frederick Wedmore (1844-1921), art critic [more]. In November, exhibited the Little Cardinal at the 12th Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, New Gallery, London, 1902. JW thought that Wedmore's review implied that it was old work, already seen and he wrote to the Standard to protest.

8.  Newton
Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), physicist and mathematician [more].

9.  Red Badge of Culture
A pun on the title of Stephen Crane (1875-1900)'s novel, The Red Badge of Courage, 1895.