UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Hiffernan, Joanna
Record 16 of 50

System Number: 11477
Date: 16 August [1865][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Henri Fantin-Latour[2]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 1/33/1
Document Type: ALS


'1866' '23'[3]

7. Lindsey Row
Old Battersea bridge
Chelsea London

J'ai vu Coronio[4] et je lui ai dit que tu lui fait son bouquet avec le melon[5] il en est très content - Quant aux Syndics pour Haden[6] - ma foi je ne sais pas trop - je ne crois guere que ca te rapporte beaucoup - tu ne pourrais pas aller a ce moment à Amsterdam car l'endroit doit être rempli de fievres, en attendant nous pourrions en causer lorsque tu viennes - Il a la tête tournée avec ses publications - Enfin taches de finir les Noces[7] - pour Dilberoglou[8] (aupres qui je ferai ta commission dès que je le vois) et alors viens - si tu restes à Sunbury[9] pour à peu pres un mois je pourrais peutêtre m'en retourner avec toi à Paris - Legros[10] je vois presque jamais - je commence à trouver qu'il ne reste presque plus de mon ancien interet en lui - il est peutetre encore un peu drole comme autrefois, mais je crois c'est [p. 2] rare, ces inspirations du bon temps En revanche on dit qu'il attend un enfant! O Ricord[11]! - Pour notre Exposition tu dois suposer combien ca me va! tu sais que j'ai toujours eu une tendance vers ce but - mais je crois que nous avons bien fait de ne pas l'avoir tenté plus tot.

Ta lettre m'a fait un vrai plaisir - Au fond nous deux nous prenons le devant - c'est comme aux grandes courses - comme au Derby[12] - c'est le pur sang qui gagne - je crois que nous pouvons maintenant en être sur - le champs est à nous - la race pur reparait en nous - Alphonse reste deja en arrière - il est un peu batard! - son lutrin retappé - non ce n'est pas ce qu'il faut comme progres! - Aussi il vient de faire un "Fils prodigue[13]" - un père de famille Grec[14] qui a posé - tu vois ca d'ici! il ne me l'a pas montré mais je crois m'en rendre compte d'avance. Il y a un autre seulement digne de nous Ce troisieme c'est le jeune Moore [p. 3] dont je t'ai si souvent parlé - et c'est joli de voir ainsi la Russie l'Angleterre et l'Amerique fournir chacune une continuation des vraies traditions de la peinture au 19me. ciecle [sic] -

Aout le 16. C'est une ancienne lettre comme tu vois que je t'envoie - L'adresse de Coronio est No. 1. Holland Park. Notting Hill, Kensington. London

Quel domage que tu ne viennes pas! Je voudrais tant te montrer mes dernières choses! J'ai fait un progres vraiment enorme - Enfin je crois toucher au but que je me suis proposé - je me rend clairement compte de tout ce que je fais! Aussi tout devient de jour en jour plus simple - et maintenant, c'est surtout la composition qui m'occupe voici ou j'en suis

fond gris très fin
[sketch[15]:] canapé blanc
bleu clair tres fin

[on left of sketch:] Jo en robe de toile très blanc, la même robe que la fille blanche d'autrefois - cette figure est tout ce que j'ai fait de plus pur - tête charmante. Le corps, les jambes, etc., se voient parfaitement à travers la robe

[on right of sketch:] tête blonde, robe de soie blanche jaunatre - ce que l'on appelle foulard - quelque fleurs pourpre foncé tombées par terre près la robe jaunâtre

[p. 4] Comment trouve la ligne du haut? [sketch] n'est ce pas bien - et puis l'arangement de deux bras sur le canapé comme ca [sketch[16]] J'attends le moment ou je puisse te montrer ce tableau  -  Maintenant autre chose  -  J'ai pour le salon une réunion[17] de nous autres à mon tour - j'en ai fait une esquisse qui est bigrement bien - ca represente l'interieur de mon atelier - porcelaine et tout. Il y a toi et Moore, la fille blanche assise sur un canapé, et la Japonaise[18] qui se promene! enfin un apothéose de tout ce qui peut scandaliser les Academiciens, les couleurs choisies sont charmantes - Moi en gris clair - la robe blanche de Jo - la robe couleur de chair de la Japonaise (vu de dos) toi et Moore en noir - le fond de l'atelier gris - C'est en hauteur, et aura à peu pres dix pieds de haute, sur six ou sept de large - Maintenant pour les nouvelles - Daubigny avec Cardart [19]ont été ici - j'ai été charmant [-] un diner - Cardart n'a pas pu rester - mais Daubigny a été tres bien entretenu - à Cadart j'ai acheté un petit Bonvin jeune[20]! comment trouves tu ca! - tu diras a Bonvin[21] lorsque tu le vois que je trouve l'aquarelle de son frere charmant! - Dès que je puisse finir[22] le tableau des deux femmes je crois vendre ma collection! et venir avec mon frère[23] à Paris - pour l'hiver - Madrid pas encore! -

[cross-written on p. 1:] Ecris moi - ta copie doit être superbe Comme tu dis tout est bien difficile pour nous, ceux qui puissent sympathiser vraiment n'existent pas hors nous -

Whistler.


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

I saw Coronio and told him that you are doing his bouquet with the melon he is very pleased - As for the Syndics for Haden - well I just don't know - I really cannot think that it will bring you in very much - you could not go to Amsterdam at the moment as the place is apparently full of fevers, in the meantime we could talk about it when you come - His head has been turned by his publications - Anyway try to finish the Wedding - for Dilberoglou (with whom I shall carry out your commission as soon as I see him) and then come - if you stay at Sunbury for about a month I could perhaps return to Paris with you - I scarcely ever see Legros - I am beginning to think that there is nothing left of my former interest in him - he is still perhaps quite droll as he used to be, but I think [p. 2] these sentiments from the good old days are rare On the other hand he is apparently expecting a child! O Ricord! - You can imagine how much that suits me for our Exhibition! You know that I have always had a tendency in that direction - but I think we have done well not to have attempted it earlier.

Your letter gave me real pleasure - Basically the two of us are taking the lead - it's like at the races - like at the Derby - it's the thoroughbred that wins - I think that we can now be sure about it - the field is ours - the pure strain reappears in us - Alphonse is already in the rear - he is a bit of a mongrel! - his lectern restored in place - no that's not what is needed by way of progress! - And so he has just produced a "Prodigal Son" - a Greek paterfamilias posed for it - you can just imagine! He has not shown it to me but I think I can picture it in advance. There is only one other worthy of us This third one is the young Moore [p. 3] whom I have so often spoken to you about - and it's good to see in this way Russia England and America each providing a continuation of the true traditions of painting in the 19th century -

16 August. This is as you see an old letter that I am sending you - Coronio's address is No. 1. Holland Park. Notting Hill, Kensington. London

What a pity you are not coming! I should so much like to show you my latest works! I have really made enormous progress - Well I feel I am reaching the goal that I set myself - I am now fully conscious of everything I am doing! So from day to day everything is getting simpler - and now, I'm particularly occupied with composition this is where I have got to

very delicate grey background / [sketch:] white couch / very delicate light blue

[on left of sketch:] Jo in a very white linen dress, the same dress as the white girl earlier - the figure is the purest I have done - charming head. The body, legs, etc., can be seen perfectly through the dress

[on right of sketch:] fair hair, yellowish white silk dress - what is known as foulard - some dark purple flowers on the ground next to the yellowish dress

[p. 4] What do you think of the outline at the top? [sketch] it's good isn't it - and then the arrangement of the two arms on the couch like this [sketch] I'm waiting for the moment when I can show you the picture - Now something else - In my turn I have a gathering of all of us for the Salon - I have done a sketch of it which is really good - it shows the interior of my studio - porcelain and all. You are there, and Moore, the white girl sitting on the couch, and the Japanese girl walking along! An apotheosis therefore of everything to outrage the Academicians, the colours I have chosen are charming - Me in light grey - Jo's white dress - the flesh-coloured dress of the Japanese girl (seen from behind) you and Moore in black - the studio background grey - It's upright, and will be about ten feet high, and six or seven wide - Now for some news - Daubigny has been here with Cadart - I was charming [-] a dinner - Cadart was not able to stay - but Daubigny was very well entertained - I bought a small work of the younger Bonvin from Cadart! What do you say to that! You must tell Bonvin when you see him that I think his brother's watercolour is charming! - As soon as I can finish the picture of the two women I think I shall sell my collection! and come to Paris with my brother - for the winter - Not Madrid yet! -

[cross-written on p. 1:] Write to me - the copy you are doing must be wonderful As you say everything is very difficult for us, those who could share our feelings really do not exist apart from us -

Whistler.


Notes:

1.  16 August [1865]
Despite an unknown hand giving the date as '1866', several references in the letter appear to relate to events of 1865 (see below). The letter was evidently begun, however, some time before 16 August.

2.  Henri Fantin-Latour
Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), artist [more].

3.  '1866' '23'
Added in another hand.

4.  Coronio
Theodore Ioannis ('John') Coronio (1827-1903), collector, husband of Aglaia Ionides [more], and Aglaia Coronio (1834-1906), née Ionides, wife of George Coronio [more], were regular patrons of Fantin-Latour.

5.  bouquet avec le melon
Coronio commissioned and bought H. Fantin-Latour, Asters de Chine et Fruits (FL.277) (z114) (private collection, F.277 as 'Fleurs et fruits') in 1865 (see Druick, Douglas and Michel Hoog, Fantin-Latour, Paris, 1982, cat. no. 32).

6.  Syndics pour Haden
Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn, The Syndics of the Cloth-Makers' Guild, 1662, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. (z115). Fantin-Latour did not copy this for Haden (Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]).

7.  Noces
H. Fantin-Latour, Copy after The Wedding at Cana, by Paolo Veronese, 1865 (FL.263) (z110); one of several copies by Fantin-Latour after Veronese's work, painted in 1563.

8.  Dilberoglou
Staurus or Stavros Dilberoglue (1811-1878), merchant, of Cavafy and Co. [more].

9.  Sunbury
Elizabeth Ruth Edwards (ca 1833 - d.1907), née Enscombe, wife of Edwin Edwards [more]. They lived at Sunbury, on the Thames.

10.  Legros
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more].

11.  Ricord
Perhaps a reference to Philippe Ricord (1800-1889), French surgeon, who specialised in venereal diseases.

12.  Derby
Major horse race at Epsom.

13.  Fils prodigue
A. Legros, Le retour du Fils prodigue (z116) was exhibited by Legros at the French Gallery, London, in the winter of 1865 (cat. no. 64) and bought by Edward Buchanan Cassatt (1869-1922), son of Lois and A. J. Cassatt [more]. It has not been located. There is an etching by Legros (B.66), of the same title and possibly the same composition, and the subject was one that Legros returned to in later years (see Wilcox, Timothy John, Alphonse Legros (1837-1911): Aspects of his Life and Work, [n.p.], 1981, cat. no. 36).

14.  père de famille Grec
The model in the etching is actually quite young; JW might be being ironic.

15.  sketch
Sketch of 'Symphony in White No. 3' (M.323). The oil painting, Symphony in White, No. 3 (YMSM 61) was completed with minor modifications to composition and colour. The carpet was reduced to a blue grey, the azaleas on the right became white, with only a spray of purple flowers.

16.  sketch
This consists of two straight lines showing the angles of arm and sofa.

17.  une réunion
JW had posed in Paris for two 'reunions' by Fantin: H. Fantin-Latour, Hommage à Eugène Delacroix (FL.227) (z100) ( Musée du Louvre), and H. Fantin-Latour, Hommage à la Verité: Le Toast (FL.271) (z111), exhibited at the Salon in 1864 and 1865 respectively (see Druick, Douglas and Michel Hoog, Fantin-Latour, Paris, 1982, pp. 165-190 and repr. p. 173).

18.  Moore, la fille blanche assise sur un canapé, et la Japonaise
The three models are Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), painter [more]; Joanna Hiffernan (b. ca 1843), JW's model and mistress [more], who stood for Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38); and probably Emelie ('Milly') Eyre Jones (b. ca 1851), model, later wife of F. H. Robson [more]. Fantin-Latour did not appear in the completed picture, Whistler in his Studio (YMSM 63).

19.  Daubigny avec Cardart
Charles-François Daubigny (1817-1878), landscape painter and printmaker [more]; Alfred Cadart (1828-1875), dealer and print publisher [more].

20.  Bonvin jeune [...] puisse
Léon Bonvin (1834-1866), watercolourist, half-brother of F. Bonvin [more] (see below). This text is written to left of a rectangular space, left clear so that the writing does not obscure the sketch on the recto. The watercolour bought by JW has not been identified.

21.  Bonvin
François Bonvin (1817-1887), painter and etcher [more].

22.  finir
'finir ... encore' is written to right of the same rectangular space.

23.  frère
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].