The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Verstraete, Theodor
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 02265
Date: 3 October 1890
Author: Gérard Harry[1]
Place: Brussels
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler I6
Document Type: ALS



LE October 3 / 90

Cher maitre

I have at last been able to get somewhere near the truth regarding Galignani's[2] statement. One of my friends (a "Gentleman of the Jury") who is abroad at present but to whom I have applied in despair writes me on the subject and I transcribe his exact words:

"Deux petites toiles[3] passent devant la Jury. On ignore le nom de l'auteur - Les uns, sans considerer, la valeur des oeuvres, les trouvent, néanmoins, de trop peu d'importance! des pochades d'atelier, en somme. les autres, une minorité, reconnaissent ou flairent les fantaisies d'un maître. Elles sont refusées, le lendemain on apprend que ce sont des Whistler et sans difficulté - mais non sans regrets, ou sans remorse, elles sont répêchées. Il s'agit des deux petits feux d'artifice.

L'histoire du tableau de Verstraete[4] "Zelande" est la même. Refusé, puis repris, dans des conditions identiques".

As to who were the blind and who the clear-sighted of the Jurymen, my informant says nothing and it would probably be difficult to get him to say anything.

I will send you our Salon as soon as completed. Did a copy of the "Reponse" posted by me, reach you? And [p. 2] shall I send any more?

With kindest souvenir to Madam Whistler[5],
I remain, cher maître
Your tout dévoué

Gerard Harry

This document is protected by copyright.


Two small canvasses are put in front of the Jury. The name of the artist is not given - Some, without considering the value of the works, find they are nonetheless not important enough! studio sketches in short. Others, a minority, recognize or suspect the fancies of a master. They are rejected, the next day it is learned that they are Whistlers and without difficulty - but not without regret or remorse, they are fished out. They were the two little fire-works.

The story of Verstraete's "Zelande" is the same. Rejected, then taken back, in identical circumstances.


1.  Gerard Harry
Gérard Harry (fl. 1877-1890), journalist for L'Indépendance Belge [more].

2.  Galignani's
Probably a reference to the English language newspaper Galignani's Messenger, produced in Paris.

3.  "Deux petites toiles...
Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay (YMSM 76), and Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169), exhibited at 105th exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1890.

4.  Verstraete
Theodor Verstraete (1850-1907), landscape painter and etcher [more]. T. Verstraete, Zelande (z244).

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