The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Henley, William Ernest
Record 7 of 50

System Number: 13329
Date: [18/23 April 1891][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: William Heinemann[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/2/6
Document Type: ALS


O! Grand Rédacteur[3]! -

Everything is delightful! -

Our artist[4] is as amiable and charming as the work you have seen is dainty - Your sympathetic appreciation has pleased - and you will soon have the little "plate of Fish[5]" - Excellent! -

The "N. O"[6] is amazing! as it is its nature to! - The boldness and dash of the Chief[7] has given that rare spirit of recklessness to his raiding Captains, without which success is impossible - and the war path of the brilliant "N. O" is strewn with the dead & the dying - The corpse of Herkomer[8] R A - [p. 2] is indecent - as it should be - and effective -

It were well that it remain exposed at the cross road for a week or two longer -

[butterfly signature]

A propos of the Carlyle[9] - one little history - A becoming regret has been now expressed that the picture should be lost to the National Portrait Gallery here - where it is said that it naturally belongs - Now then - Some years ago Mr Schaarf[10] [sic] - the Director of that Gallery (he is now still I believe) was asked to go and see this portrait of Carlyle where it was on exhibition, with a possible view of its purchase -

"Dear! dear! dear!" he said, sadly shaking his head the while, after long and silent contemplation before the picture, "dear! dear! and is this what Painting has come to!!" whereupon he turned upon his heel with mild rebuke in his eye, and went his way forever. - Don't you think this too nice and unpleasant to be lost?

If[11] you think it would fit in well at the moment of your seeing the picture on its arrival in Glasgow - for of course you will pay me the compliment of going to look at it - why then excellent again! -

Charmed with the little souvenir of the "aim of Art[12]" -

Of course the corporation[13] onslaught was amazing!! -

Oscar's[14] letter I must one of these days be shown! -

When you come to town you will of course let me know.

That dinner of yours was perfect! -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [18/23 April 1891]
Dated by the reference to articles and to a portrait (see below). Another note, undated, but traditionally associated with this letter, is #13351.

2.  William Heinemann
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more].

3.  Grand Rédacteur
Fr., Great Editor.

4.  artist
Possibly Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

5.  plate of Fish
Beatrix Whistler was doing a series of etchings of fish, possibly to illustrate a book for Heinemann; B. Whistler, Goldfish (z226).

6.  N. O
National Observer (see below).

7.  Chief
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), journalist, poet and writer [more].

8.  Herkomer
Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914), painter [more], whose use of photogravure reproductions of pen drawings (described as etchings) in his publication An Idyll sparked off a great controversy. See W. E. Henley to JW, 18 April 1891, #04248; National Observer, vol. 6, 18 April 1891, pp. 555-556, and 2 May 1891, pp. 603-604; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, p. 186).

9.  Carlyle
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137). It arrived in Glasgow on 23 April 1891 (see J. W. Paton to JW, 24 April 1891, #01676) having been sold for 1,000 guineas.

10.  Mr Schaarf
Sir George Scharf (1820-1895), archaeological painter and Director of the National Portrait Gallery [more].

11.  If
'If you ... again!' was written upside down, diagonally across the top right corner, 'Charmed ... amazing' in the left margin, 'Oscar's ... perfect! -' in the left margin of p. 1.

12.  aim of Art
Reference not identified.

13.  corporation
Glasgow City Corporation.

14.  Oscar's
Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wilde (1854-1900), writer, critic and playwright [more].