UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Cornu, Jean-Jean
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 00695
Date: 14 February 1877
Author: Gustave Courbet[1]
Place: Tour de Peilz, canton de Vaud, Switzerland
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C196
Document Type: ALS


Tour de Peilz[,] canton de Vaud[2]

14 fevrier 1877

Mon cher Whistler

Il y a bien longtemps que nous nous sommes vus, c'est domage [sic], car les idées s'échangent

ou est le temps mon ami ou nous étions heureux, et sans autres soucis que ceux de l'art, rappelez-vous Trouville et Jo[3] qui faisait le clown pour nous egayer. le soir elle chantait si bien les chants Irlandais car elle avait elle avait l'esprit et la distinction de l'art. Je me rappelle aussi de notre démenagement a la ficelle du casino a l'hôtel de la mer où nous prenions des bains sur la plage gelée et des saladiers de crevettes [p. 2] au beure frais sans compter la cotelette au déjeuner[,] ce qui nous permettait ensuite de peindre l'espace[,] la mer et les poissons jusqu'à l'horizon, nous nous sommes payés du rêve et de l'espace.

J'ai encore le portrait de Jo[4] que je ne vendrai jamais[,] il fait l'admiration de tout le monde[.] le tableau des demoiselles Potter[5] a été acheté par Durand Ruel[6] et a du aller à Londres; c'est bien étonnant que Mr Potter ne l'ait pas acheté; il est étrange[,] recherchez-le, il ne m'a pas été payé[.] Durand Ruel a suspendu les payements surtout vis à vis de moi. il a fait comme tout le monde, tout ma été volé, et mon existence a été détruite.

que de maux depuis dans que de tourments que de souffrances que de cruautés [p. 3] que de prisons que de fois j'ai echappé a la mort et aux mains de ces canibales[.] ils m'ont trainés la chaine aux mains dans les rues, ils m'ont enfermés dans des cachots sans air, etc, etc, impossible de tout dire.

Passons a autre chose je suis ici dans un pays charmant le plus beau du monde entier sur le Lac du Leman bordé de montagnes gigantesques c'est ici que l'espace vous plairait car d'un côté il y a la mer et son horizon[,] c'est mieux que Trouville, à cause du paysage

je vais être condamné ces jours-ci a payer la Colonne Vendome[7][,] la somme de trois cent 33 mille f.[,] dix mille f. par an pendant 30 ans. je ne vous dis que [p. 4] cela, il s'agit donc de faire tuer la peinture de 10,000 f. par an[.] pour le moment je désirerais que vous me donniez un coup de main. Mr Bergeron[8] votre ami n'a pas voulu que j'envois un tableau de veau[9], et des pommes[10] qui sont je pense en ce moment chez M. Deschamps[11] il m'a affirmé que je pouvais les vendre à Londres sans les envoyer à Philadelphie[12], et par une lettre que j'ai il s'en est fait fort[.] voyez cela je vous en prie car le prix de 8000 f. a été offert, au marchand de Genève Pia[13], homme d'affaires de Mr Bergeron 8000[.] voyez aussi Mr Gillman[14] 14 Ashley Place, S. W. Edmond Levrand[15] ami aussi de Mr. Bergeron 93 Great Titchfield Street Oxford Street[.] j'ai confié a Mr B. Reitlinger[16] de Vienne autriche 4 tableaux pour l'Exposition de Philadelphie[17] que je crois perdus[.] non seulement on me demande 400 dolars, et j'avais payé les frais pour cela, voyez Mrs Grunebaum Ballin[18], E. C: Angel Court, Throgmorton Street, informez Mr. Reitlinger

enfin[19] mon ami voila bien de l'ouvrage, recevez mes salutations sincères repondez moi:

G. Courbet


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

Tour de Peilz[,] canton of Vaud

14 February 1877

My dear Whistler

It is a long time since we saw each other, it is a pity, because ideas change

where is the time, my friend, when we were happy, and without other worries than those of 'art, do you remember Trouville and Jo who played the clown to amuse us. the evening she sang Irish songs so well[,] she had the spirit and the distinction of art. I remember also our leaving the casino by string at the hotel by the sea where we took baths in the freezing sea and the salad bowl of prawns [p. 2] in fresh butter without counting the cutlet at lunch[,] which let us paint together the space, the sea and fish to the horizon, we paid ourselves with dreams and space.

I still have the portrait of Jo which I will never sell[.] everyone admires it[.] the painting of the Misses Potter was bought by Durand Ruel and has gone to London; it is really astonishing that Mr Potter did not buy it; he is strange[.] inquire into it, I have not been paid for it[.] Durand Ruel has completely suspended payments to me. he has done like everybody else, everything has been stolen from me, and my very existence has been destroyed.

what bad things since then[,] what torments what suffering what cruelties [p. 3] what prisons what times I escaped death and from the hands of these cannibals[,] they dragged me with chains on my hands through the streets, they shut me up in dungeons without air, etc, etc, impossible to tell everything.

Passing onto other things I am here in a charming countryside the most beautiful in the entire world on the Lac du Leman bordered with gigantic mountains[,] the space here would please you because on one side there is the sea and its horizon[,] it is better than Trouville, because of the landscape

I am now being sentenced to pay for the Vendôme column[,] the sum of three hundred 33 thousand f.[,] ten thousand f. a year for 30 years. I will only say this to you [p. 4] one has to soak painting for 10,000 f. a year[.] for the moment I would like you to give me a hand. Your friend Mr Bergeron wanted me to send the painting of a calf, and the apples which are I think at this moment with M. Deschamps[,] he assured me that I could sell them in London without sending them to Philadelphia, and in a letter that I have he is confident of this[.] Check on that I beg you because a price of 8000 f. was offered, Pia, a merchant of Geneva[,] agent for Mr Bergeron 8000[.] see also Mr Gillman 14 Ashley Place, S. W. Edmond Levrand also a friend of Mr. Bergeron 93 Great Titchfield Street Oxford Street[.] I entrusted to Mr B. Reitlinger of Vienna Austria the paintings for the Philadelphia exhibition which I believe lost[,] not only do they ask 400 dollars, and I have paid the freight for that, see Mrs Grunebaum Ballin, E. C: Angel Court, Throgmorton Street, tell Mr. Reitlinger

now my friend that is plenty of work, accept my sincere greetings[,] reply to me

G. Courbet


Notes:

1.  Gustave Courbet
Jean-Désiré-Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), painter [more]. This letter was published in MacDonald, Margaret F. and Joy Newton, 'Letters from the Whistler Collection (University of Glasgow). Correspondance with French Painters,' Gazette des Beaux Arts, no. 128, December 1986, pp. 201-214, at pp. 203-04.

2.  Tour de Peilz[,] canton de Vaud
Courbet went into exile in Switzerland after his imprisonment in Sainte Pélagie gaol. He died on 31 December 1877.

3.  Trouville et Jo
Joanna Hiffernan (b. ca 1843), JW's model and mistress [more]. She was the model for some of JW's most famous paintings, including Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38), which was admired by Courbet at the Salon des Refusés in 1863. Courbet painted at least 25 seascapes in Trouville in 1865 (exh. cat., Paris, Grand Palais, and London, Royal Academy, Gustave Courbet 1819-1877, 1978, cat. no. 86). Whistler himself painted six works in Trouville, including one of Courbet on the shore, Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville (YMSM 64).

4.  portrait de Jo
There are four versions of the Portrait de Jo, la belle Irlandaise, the original in Stockholm Museum, others in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, Kansas, and a private collection in Paris (Gustave Courbet, Portrait de Jo, la belle irlandaise (z59), Gustave Courbet, Portrait de Jo, la belle irlandaise (z159), Gustave Courbet, Portrait de Jo, la belle irlandaise (z160), Gustave Courbet, Portrait de Jo, la belle irlandaise (z161)). Dr Collin said Courbet, on his death-bed, refused to sell the portrait to Rochefort (P. Courthion, Courbet reconté par lui-même et par ses amis, Geneva 1950, II, pp. 255-56; C. Léger, Courbet, Paris 1929, repr. pl. 45; exh. cat., Gustave Courbet, op. cit., cat. no. 87).

5.  tableau des demoiselles Potter
Gustave Courbet, Trois anglaises à la fenêtre (z162), 1865, Copenhagen Museum (Robert Fernier, La Vie et l'Oeuvre de Gustave Courbet,, Geneva and Lausanne, 1977-78, I, cat. no. 537). The girl on the left was painted out. These are the daughters of John Gerald Potter (1829-1908), wallpaper manufacturer and patron [more].

6.  Durand Ruel
Charles Durand-Ruel (1865-1892), Paris art dealer [more].

7.  Colonne Vendôme
The column, surmounted by an effigy of Napoleon I, was hated by Republicans as a symbol of the Napoleonic Empire. Courbet voiced the public demand for its destruction in the Journal officiel on 27 April 1871 (G. Courbet, 'La Déboulonnage de la colonne Vendôme', Chronique des Arts, no. 37, 3 December 1892, pp. 291-92). It was demolished on 16 May 1871. Following the collapse of the Commune, Courbet's paintings were threatened with seizure to meet the cost of rebuilding it.

8.  Mr Bergeron
Possibly Charles Bergeron (b. ca 1809), civil engineer and writer [more].

9.  tableau de veau
Gustave Courbet, Le Veau (z163), 1873, 3500 fr., also mentioned in a letter to M. B. Mauritz, 24 April 1877 (Léger, op. cit., p. 179). It may be the same as another painting, which according to Fernier was painted in 1873 before Courbet went to Switzerland, put in safe keeping by the painter Cornu, and sent to Pia in Geneva in February 1874 for exhibition and sale (Gustave Courbet, Le Veau blanc (z164), private collection, USA; Fernier, op. cit., II, cat. no. 880).

10.  pommes
While imprisoned in Sainte-Pélagie in 1871, and on parole in Dr Duval's clinic at Neuilly in 1872, Courbet's sisters and friends brought him flowers and fruit to paint (Léger, op. cit., pp. 167-69). No Pommes are recorded by Fernier with Deschamps in 1877 but there are several possibilities, such as those in the Musée Mesdag, La Haye, in the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen, Munich, and in the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (Fernier, op. cit., cat. nos. 770, 771, 775 (Gustave Courbet, Pommes (z168), Gustave Courbet, Pommes (z169), Gustave Courbet, Pommes (z170)).

11.  M. Deschamps
Charles William Deschamps (1848-1908), art dealer [more].

12.  Philadelphie
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

13.  Pia
Paul Pia, art dealer from Geneva, Switzerland; cf. Gerstle Mack, Gustave Courbet, New York 1951, p. 329; Léger, op. cit., p. 192.

14.  Gillman
Probably . He lived at 14 Ashley Place, Victoria Street, Westminster, London S.W.; a few years later this was the address of Whistler's friend, James Staats Forbes (1823-1904), railway manager and collector [more].

15.  Edmond Levrand
. 93 Great Titchfield Street, off Oxford Street, was "Portland Chambers", given in the London Postal Directory as the address of C. W. Hird, solicitor, F. C. Montague, E. G. M. Barnard, and C. Mortimer. No Edward Levrand is listed.

16.  B. Reitlinger
B. Reitlinger, dealer. A. H. Reitlinger is the name given as the lender of Courbet's paintings to the U. S. International Exhibition held at Philadelphia in 1876.

17.  Exposition de Philadelphie
Gustave Courbet, The Huntsman (z165), and two versions of the Castle of Chillon were for sale in the loan section of oil paintings in the U. S. section of the U. S. International Exhibition in 1876 (cat. nos. 807-10). (Gustave Courbet, Castle of Chillon, Lake Léman (z166), and Gustave Courbet, The Bather (z167)).

18.  Mrs Grunebaum Ballin
Grunebaum, Ballin and Co., merchants, at 14 Angel Court, (next to the offices of the St James's Gazette, in an area mostly inhabited by stockbrokers).

19.  enfin
Added at right angles to the main text in the left margin of p. 2.