The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Vanderbilt, Edith Stuyvesant
Record 14 of 24

System Number: 04790
Date: [18 February 1901][1]
Author: JW
Place: Ajaccio
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P430
Document Type: ALS


'Feb. 18. 1901.[3]'


Excellent my dear Major! -

I am highly delighted! and picture to myself the submissive family solicitor seated humbly at the elbow of the distinguished and beautiful Ward lady, in her evening splendour! - I suppose Major, that was all right! -

Was it the black dress[4] I like? - The white one I am always a bit vague about - and I don't quite remember if it came from the hands of Simon[5] perfect? The pearl necklace Major? around the straight throat - most stately! - to say nothing of the small smooth head, to which I have never done justice!

It is well "screwed on" Major! as was shown by the way in which you withdrew from promiscuous gathering behind the scenes, and had yourself with proper ceremony put into your carriage! - I was very much pleased - and I do hope that you had a smart little Coupé waiting for you - though I fear not! -

This brings me to the enclosed cheque - You might wire and say simply "Yes" when you get it - And, by the way, for telegrams, Whistler. Ajaccio, is sufficient -

All about Hinde Street[6] I have now received - and I suppose also that by this time you have seen why it was that I did not write to you - I was in terror of your being up there in the freezing studio with the window open! the very thing that did happen after all! -

You dont say any thing about yourself! I hope you have no more cold! - Of course I am glad that the etchings have come out so well - (I mean the plates[7]) and I trust no harm came of that - It will be a great pleasure to see them all again and perhaps I may get them into a finer state yet -

Perhaps when you see Webb again you might ask him if he would refer to his notes about the things that were left with him as security about the White business, and tell you how many copper plates there were? - This might square with what you have found -

The keys for the cupboards - I think Webb[8] says are with the Secretary[9] - or was it you told me? However let the man down stairs get others - or Mr. Taylor[10], who made them would do - though perhaps we dont want him about, just now! -

thats all for the moment -

We must not lose the run of the Carringtons[11] & if you can get the Mother[12], to come & talk to you some afternoon that will be all right -

Here is Ratier's[13] letter which essentially confirms Euphrasie's[14] report -

Of course it is rubbish what he says about the Experts letter going on to London! and so making it too late for him to send to the valuation, some one to watch the proceedings! - If Euphrasie had sent the letter here, it would have taken 6. or 8 days before he could have had it at all! - So that's no excuse - He ought to have cared for all this whether or no in my absence, sent some one to be present at the Saleron[15] meeting! that would have been splendid - However he finally did very well - and no doubt impressed the Expert and so had much to do with result

You see the affair is put off 'til the 1st of March - & by that time we may outflank her again

This ought to go Major - with much affection to you all - Tell Bunnie[16] that [p. 2] I think it nice of her to have written again - and she shall have a letter soon -

Meanwhile I [am] going to send for you both to enjoy another missive to the Bate[17] -

It is of a Machiavellian character and you can ponder upon it for in a manner it leaves them all curiously occupied! or rather the two Gourdiflos[18] -

Awfully! Cruelly! wickedly cold it has been! -

The trains unable to cross the mountains! - and snow all over the place! - with the mails stuffed in the tunels [sic]!

Of course not a stroke of work! - what shall I ever do! - The cough seems to have gone - and here you may rub your hand on wood! - And indeed you know I never was really so much troubled with what I left that other Island with, (I was just telling Webb!) as with sets of colds I have picked up in this one! -

I send you the latest letter from the doctor at Marseilles of whom I think so highly - just to show you that he has never thought of me as a "malade serieux"!

What about Dr. Boyton-Johnson[19]? - Have you seen him? -

Dont wait Major, for letters to answer, but write if only a few lines, whenever you can! -

Have you any answer from Mrs. Vanderbilt[20]? - & have you ever heard whether your letter was properly addressed -

You might send Euphrasie to enquire - they may have gone to Dresden -

Webb is I am sure very much pleased with your coming with him to the first night - - I should think so indeed!

I have thanked him of course in my answer & told him I knew you enjoyed it as I had heard from you - So every thing is excellent - and he will be paying all sorts of attentions to you Major! but do not catch cold!! By the way I dont think you said any more about the lady who was to have been with him? Who was she? & was she not there? -

Always affectionately

the General.

This is now Sunday - We have been frozen out, Or rather in, the whole week -

[p. 3][21] Here is another line to you Major! and you should get by this same delayed post, the long letter with cheque - (registered) -

You can read the enclosed to Cowan[22] - if it amuse you, and then put it in black envelope and send it on to Edinburgh for I dont remember his exact address -

Copy of letter to the Gourdiflos, will send on -

And now you can look up the lithographs Kennedy[23] wants - and make parcel, to give to Mr. Lauser[24], or the the [sic] red headed Mr. Roth[25], you remember, to be sent on - The price you will more or less make out of latest lists in cabinets - .

You might write a line to Webb to tell him that you are attending to the "Wunderlich[26] [illegible] business" - for he sent it on to me, and said that he would see to it, through you, unless I wrote to you direct - -

Have heard from Euphrasie all right

Off! -

Affectionate[27] messages to all.

This document is protected by copyright.


[registered letter:]



Miss Rosalind Birnie-Philip
Dhu House -
36. Tite Street -
London -

'Feb. 18. 1901.'

[postmark:] AJACCIO / CORSE / 3E 18 / FEVR / 01
[oval stamp on flap:] HÔTEL SCHWEIZERHOF / AJACCIO (CORSE)

[on verso:] 'Whistler'[29]


1.  [18 February 1901]
Dated from the postmark. The date was also written on both sheets of paper and the envelope by the recipient.

2.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. JW called her 'Major' and himself 'General'.

3.  Feb. 18. 1901.
The date was added by R. B. Philip.

4.  black dress
Possibly The Black Hat - Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip (YMSM 535).

5.  Simon
Simon, a dress-maker, tailor or couturier.

6.  Hinde Street
The Company of the Butterfly, at 2 Hinde Street, formed to sell JW's work, was being wound up.

7.  plates
JW had given her instructions on how to clean his copperplates, on 27 January (#04787).

8.  Webb
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more].

9.  Secretary
Not identified.

10.  Mr. Taylor
Taylor, possibly a locksmith.

11.  Carringtons
Eva Carrington, JW's model between 1898 and 1902 [more], and her sister Gladys.

12.  Mother
Mrs Carrington, mother of the models, Eva and Gladys.

13.  Ratier's
Antoine ('Antony') Ratier (b. 1851), lawyer and politician [more]. He was involved in a tedious case involving JW's neighbours at 110 rue du Bac.

14.  Euphrasie's
Euphrasie, JW's servant at 110 Rue du Bac.

15.  Saleron
Mme Saleron, JW's neighbour at 110 rue du Bac [more].

16.  Bunnie
Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more].

17.  Bate
Inez Eleanor Addams (fl. 1898-1927), née Bate, painter [more]. She was Massière of the Académie Carmen, which JW was no longer able to run.

18.  Gourdiflos
An affectionate name for Inez Eleanor Addams (fl. 1898-1927), née Bate, painter [more], and Clifford Isaac Addams (1876-1942), etcher [more].

19.  Dr. Boyton-Johnson
Dr William Boyter-Johnson (b. ca 1853), JW's doctor in London [more].

20.  Mrs. Vanderbilt
Edith Stuyvesant Vanderbilt (1873-1958), née Dresser, wife of G. W. Vanderbilt [more].

21.  [p. 3]
This page is written on Hotel Schweizerhof memorandum paper.

22.  Cowan
John James Cowan (1846-1936), paper manufacturer and collector [more].

23.  Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].

24.  Mr. Lauser
Gustave Lauser (b. ca 1841), London print-seller [more].

25.  Mr. Roth
A. Roth, probably a print dealer.

26.  Wunderlich
Hermann Wunderlich (ca 1839 - d.1892), print dealer [more].

27.  Affectionate
Written in the left margin.

28.  Recommendée
Triple underlined.

29.  'Whistler'
Written in an unknown hand. The letter was sealed with black wax and JW's butterfly monogram seal. The verso is inscribed 'Whistler' in an unknown hand, and bears the hotel's oval stamp.