The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Beurdeley, Paul
Record 16 of 43

System Number: 06243
Date: [24/31 March 1895][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: William Webb[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W238
Document Type: ALd

My dear Mr Webb -

You will have understood that if I have not before written it is because every day has been taken up with fresh developments - and Ratier[3] - and Beurdeley[4]! - Writing has been impossible! while I have longed for a talk with you!

I send you, by this same post, The "Figaro", and the "Journal"[5] - Each paper contains on the front page, what is here called the Procès Verbal, which in Paris completely finishes Mr. George Moore[6], ostracising him forever -

He can never again show his face in France - No club would allow him to enter its doors - and no gentlemen here will ever be seen in his company -

"Le Journal" has also a most brilliant article on this late Judgement of the Court - which you will be delighted to read -

You of course know now, as I do!, that in the French Court neither [p. 2] plaintif nor defendant opens his mouth - All the talking is done by the two Avocats - Certain errors that found their way into the first speeches could never be got out of the heads of the people - and are to this moment repeated in the press of both France, and England - Notably among these mistakes is that of my having wiped out only the face of Lady Eden[7] - This is due to the fact that "figure", in French means face! Then again there is great uncertainty about my retaining the cheque - Also in many papers there is a belief that the Baronet[8] had the right to fix the price himself - and finally that I gave my word never to touch the painting again.!

Now I think that all this is however getting each day better - and in England I notice that they really do understand that the Baronet is a shocking person! - * * You will notice that this letter did not get off by the post with the Figaro! but days have elapsed[9]! Bunnie[10] has shown me your letter, just come - I am so sorry to know that you have been ill all this time! and as you only mention the Figaro, I must suppose that you did not get the "Journal" - I must send it to you at once - Also the speech of Beurdeley - and his [oppent?] - together with Judgement -

As usual my own letters[11] in the Pall Mall tell (in their own concise way, without the weariness of explanation,) the story of all that has taken place, better than any other account -

You shall have them all - in their order - and you will see that we have done what we started out to do! - We have wiped up the place with the Baronet! - and his Kinsman[12] - and his henchman! - It is really terrible to think what has happened to them all!! I have never been more complete in every detail!

But you cannot at present know what this all means until you have read what I am sending you -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [24/31 March 1895]
Dated from the reference to JW's dispute with George Moore (see below).

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

3.  Ratier
Antoine ('Antony') Ratier (b. 1851), lawyer and politician [more]. This letter relates to JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], over Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), a portrait of Eden's wife. On 14 February 1894, with the picture seemingly nearing completion, Eden sent JW a cheque for 100 guineas. But JW was dissatisfied with his work and refused to hand it over to Eden, believing it was the artist's right to withhold a picture in such circumstances. When Eden instituted legal proceedings against him in November 1894 in order to retrieve it, JW returned all monies that had been paid to him. However, the dispute dragged on until December 1897 when JW, on appeal, was permitted by the Cour de Cassation in Paris to keep the picture provided that he did not make use of it. In 1899, JW published his account of the affair: Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24].

4.  Beurdeley
Paul Beurdeley (1842-after 1902), advocate at the Cour d'Appel, Paris [more]. JW uses the French title, Avocat.

5.  George Moore
George Moore (1852-1933), novelist and art critic [more]. Moore had originally introduced Eden to JW but later, he quarrelled with JW over the portrait, taking Eden's side in the case.

6.  'Figaro', and the 'Journal'
JW challenged Moore to a duel on 12 March 1895 (#04182). Moore declined to fight him. This affair ended with the publication of a procès-verbal in Le Journal, 24 March 1895 (see Francis Vielé-Griffin and Octave Mirbeau to G. Moore, 15 March 1895, #04081 see also Barbier, Carl P., ed., Correspondance Mallarmé-Whistler: Histoire de la grande amitié de leurs dernières années, Paris, 1964 [GM, A.28], pp. 243-47).

7.  Lady Eden
Lady Sybil Frances Eden (1867-1945), née Grey [more], wife of Sir William Eden.

8.  Baronet
That is, Sir William Eden.

9.  have elapsed
'You will ... have elapsed' is written at right-angles in left-hand margin to the main text .

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

11.  letters
Letter to the editor published, entitled 'The Baronet's Valentine', Pall Mall Gazette, 1 March 1895, #04396. A similar letter, under the same title, appeared in the Westminster Gazette, 1 March 1895.

12.  Kinsman
Frederick Morton Eden (1829-1917), Barrister [more].