The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Parry, John Humffrey
Record 3 of 16

System Number: 12110
Date: 16 November 1878
Author: James Anderson Rose[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Walker Martineau & Co.[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC
Document Type: ALd



16 Novr 1878

Dear Sirs

Whistler v Ruskin[5]

I have just had a consultation with Mr Serj[ean]t Parry and Mr Petheram[6] and laid before them your letters of the correspondence[7] with you since the 12th of April both sides manifestly proceeding on the hypothesis that Mr. Ruskin [Defendant?] [p. 2] wished & intended to attend the trial as a witness and it was only by your letter[8] of Frid[a]y the 15th that that [sic] I learnt you intended to present to trial without Mr. Ruskin attending the trial[.] Under these circumstances it will be quite impossible for me to get be ready for trial on Monday the 18th inst and Mr Serjt Parry will ask the [p. 3] Court to [file?] adj[ournment] for the trial and will suggest Monday Nov 25th[9] - I give you this notice of this as early as possible that you may not have the attendance of your witnesses may not be troubled to need not attend the Court on Monday for the purpose of the trial

[p. 2] 'Rose to Walker[10] 16 Nov 1878'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  James Anderson Rose
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more].

2.  Walker Martineau & Co.
Solicitors for John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more].

3.  '123'
Written in another hand in upper right-hand corner of sheet. This was one of the legal documents kept by Rose to which he gave a number.

Page 3 is also written on this headed notepaper.

5.  Whistler v Ruskin
This relates to preparations for JW's libel suit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more]. The suit was in response to Ruskin's criticism of JW's works, especially Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170) in his periodical Fors Clavigera. On 2 July 1877, he accused JW of 'flinging a pot of paint in the public's face' in a review of the I Summer Exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery, London. See Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213.

6.  Mr Serj[ean]t Parry and Mr Petheram
John Humffrey Parry (1816-1880), Sergeant-at-law [more], and William Comer Petheram (1835-1922), barrister [more], who acted on JW's behalf in the trial of Whistler v Ruskin.

7.  correspondence
The correspondence commenced when Rose issued a writ on 12 April 1878 (#13249). However, Rose also consented to a request that JW's action against Ruskin would not be 'in the list for trial before the fifteenth of May next on account of Defendants illness' (J. A. Rose to Walker Martineau & Co, #12060). During the spring and summer of 1878, Ruskin suffered recurrent bouts of mental illness. This stalled proceedings several times to bring the case to trial. Although he recovered, latterly, Ruskin became reluctant to attend the trial at all (see Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, pp. 95-96).

8.  your letter
See Walker Martineau & Co. to J. A. Rose, #12092.

9.  Nov 25th
The trial did eventually place at the Queen's Bench of the High Court from 25-26 November 1878.

10.  Rose to Walker ... 1878
Note written upside down in another hand at foot of sheet.