The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: book, Eden v Whistler
Record 12 of 17

System Number: 06257
Date: [1/9 October 1898][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: William Webb[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W252
Document Type: ALS[3]

110. Rue du Bac - Paris


Dear Mr. Webb -

Many thanks for your letter -

I am glad you are making enquiries about your registered letter to Ratier[4] - Excellent! -

My idea is that probably he received it - and never knew what it was all about! - This is a supposition only, for [p. 2] I have not been able to see him for an age! - His duties as Sénateur have immensly [sic] taken up his time - and I have only had interviews with his chief clerk who is a very capital fellow - He says they have looked high and low for the letter without discovering it! - though they have note from Beurdeley[5], of the time, telling them that he urged us to send the hundred guineas - /

Ratier will write to you, if has not already done so - but all Representatives, or authorities here are simply swallowed up in this Jew question[6]!

I told the Clerk that to make matters simpler and easier, you would perhaps send me a form of some kind for the London & Westminster Bank Directors, for Ratier to fill up or sign -

Could you do this? - In simple English - I could translate - and he could sign, for me to send back to you - Then you can get the money out again, and pay the hundred guineas into my account at Drummond's, (Spring Gardens, Charing Cross,) by your own cheque - Wont this be the best way of finishing that matter? -

I am most anxious to hear of your [p. 3] progress in the Post Office research for the lost letter! -

What about Taylor's[7] bill for the Company of the Butterfly? - Ninety something pounds - What do you think of cheque for £40 - now, and £30, in three months, and remainder in five months? - Will you see - and write?

With kindest regards,
Always sincerely,

J McNeill Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [1/9 October 1898]
Dated from the references to the Whistler v Eden case and the Company of the Butterfly (see below). This letter seems to belong with a sequence of correspondence with Webb around this date, and probably precedes Webb's letter of 11 October 1898, #06249 and JW's letter of [12 October 1898], #06248. The date '1899' is written in another hand.

2.  William Webb
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more]. This 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 'Valentine' cheque for 100 guineas. But JW was dissatisfied with his work and refused to hand it over. Eden commenced legal proceedings and the dispute dragged on for several years. JW was eventually allowed to keep the picture provided that he did not make use of it. Both Webb and Ratier acted as JW's legal representatives in the case. See JW's account of the trial: Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24].

3.  ALS
Written on deep-bordered mourning paper.

4.  Ratier
Antoine ('Antony') Ratier (b. 1851), lawyer and politician [more]. See G. and W. Webb to A. Ratier, concerning the registered letter, sent on 20 February 1895 and containing a cheque for £105, #06244.

5.  Beurdeley
Paul Beurdeley (1842-after 1902), advocate at the Cour d'Appel, Paris [more].

6.  Jew question
The Dreyfus case, in which Alfred Dreyfus (1859-1935), army officer [more], was accused of selling military secrets to the Germans. The case began in 1894 and dragged on for twelve years until 1906 when Dreyfus was finally cleared and his earlier convictions were quashed. The case created a deep rift between the liberal intelligentsia and more conservative, anti-semitic elements of French society. On 13 January 1898, Émile Édouard Charles Antoine Zola (1840-1902), novelist, critic and political activist [more], created a public uproar by writing the famous open letter 'J'accuse' to the national paper Aurore in support of Dreyfus. By February 1898, Zola found himself convicted of libel. Thus, the legal profession would have been much preoccupied by the wider implications of the affair.

7.  Taylor's
Taylor, possibly a locksmith. JW formed the Company of the Butterfly in April 1897 in order to sell his works direct to the public. However, it was not a success and ran only from 1898 to 1901.