UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 19 of 27

System Number: 09715
Date: 4 February 1894
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[1]
Place: [New York]
Repository: New York Public Library
Call Number: E. G. Kennedy I/48
Credit Line: Edward Guthrie Kennedy Papers / Manuscripts and Archives Division / The New York Public Library / Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Document Type: ALS


110 Rue du Bac, Paris

Feb. 4 - 1894

My dear Mr. Kennedy -

I am more and more impressed, as our letter writing goes on, with the vast far offness of America! -

What inducement is there for me to send way out there things that go to continue one's history here? - There, according to what you yourself say the people are still in the early stage of National greatness - to put it nicely, that requires the legs of the piano to be draped[2]! - To them a nude figure suggests [p. 2] at once the absence of clothes - and general impropriety - only! What should I do with any of my beautiful pastels - among these persons? -

Money - is the only consideration - the only inducement to offer to the artist for sending his work so far away from Paris - and that they wont give enough of - You told me you wouldn't sell the etching "Cameo No 1[3]" at the price I would have asked, because of the thinness of the drapery!!-

Mr Gerald Potter[4], another of the Art Patron picture dealers has just sold[5] "The Little White Girl", & the Nocturne "Cremorne lights Blue & Silver" for fourteen hundred pounds in a lump - He was asking £1200 for "The Little White Girl"- by itself, but one man brought the two pictures down.

So you see the Whistlers are daily going up - and these works which the people were forbidden to buy from me[6] , by Mr Ruskin[7] Mr Burne Jones, and the Attorney Genl. of England are bringing thousands to the hawking scoundrels who, in the guise of connoisseurs, collectors & protectors of Art, are making incomes & taking their families to the Engardine[8] on my labour my brain - my hard fought battle - and the honours achieved - out of their own country!

Mr Potter gave me £150 - for "The Little White Girl"- or perhaps only 100 - I forget - and for the Nocturne, fifty or may be thirty[9].

Good speculation wasn't it! At the time of the Exhibition[10] at Goupil's which established the worth of all these pictures[,] Potter made a great fuss about paying for the cleaning and refused to take the one or two new frames I had put his paintings in - By this toilette I had of course not only set their wares before the public to the best advantage but I had put the works themselves [p. 3] into the most splendid condition - Mr Potter left the frames on my hands -

Mr. Leathart[11] refused absolutely to pay for the cleaning & varnishing of his picture, "The Lange Leize[12] of the Six Marks," which came from his home in a filthy condition of grime & neglect. - He sold it for six or eight hundred - He had paid me £80 - or 60. -

Mr. Louis Huth[13] - millionaire - refused entirely to pay for the cleaning & varnishing of "The Symphony[14] in White No 3" - which went back to him, through my care, in a state of perfection - beautiful to look upon - He wrote me a foolish and furious letter of insolent and honest wrath - .... And more I could tell you - and will one of these days - for these things should be known -

The Nocturne[15] "Blue & Silver Battersea" that you speak of I ought to have £800 for - However if you have a client or mean business in any way and will send me a cheque for £600, I will send you the picture - for you can keep it better than I can - These Whistlers you know are getting scarse now - I have only that one and the "Fire Wheel[16], Black & Gold" left - The fire wheel you know I want £1000 guineas for -

Your letter[17] of Jan 23d I have received as you see - Now to go back, you will have noticed that with the two sets of the "Luxembourg[18]" lithos, sent[19] you on the 20th Jan. - was a proof of a draped figure[20] (that I forgot to put down on the list) - for this the [illegible] price, £2-2- Then on the 20th Jan - I sent with the one set of the "Luxembourg" (ordered Jan. 2d) another draped figure[21] also not put down on the list - at least I believe not, and also for £2-2-

Now we have just sent you yesterday Jan Feb. 3. according to the last letter of yours requesting three extra sets, the following proofs, viz.

[tick] 3. "Corner house, Vitré[22]"............. £ 6-6-  
[tick] 3. "Seated draped figure"............ 9-9-  
[tick] 3. "Lying down nude - ............... 6-6- K
[tick] 3. "Market Place Paimpol............. 6-6-  
[tick] 3. "Horlogerie Paimpol"............. 6-6-  
[tick] 2. "Vitré"........................... 4-4- (one more to send)
[tick] 3. "Luxembourg Gardens, Panthéon...... 6-6-  
[tick] 2.    "    "    "   The Steps"..... 4-4- (one more to send)
[tick] [2?].   "    "   The Conversation"........ 2-2- (two more to send)
      51-9-  

 

[p. 4] I think the idea of the exhibition of lithographs excellent -

This must go now -

With kindest regards
Very sincerely

J McN Whistler

[butterfly signature]

I hope you have sent cheque - for this January business[23] in Paris has been endless in the way of expense and the strain devilish tight! -

[p. 5] ' 1894[24]
J. McN. Whistler
Paris Febry. 4th'


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

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

2.  draped
This was apparently seen in an American seminary for young ladies by the British Captain Frederick Marryat (A Diary in America, 3 vols, London, 1839, quoted in Pyles, Thomas, Words and Ways of American English, New York, 1952, p. 111).

3.  Cameo No. 1
Cameo No.1 (Mother and Child) (K.347).

4.  Gerald Potter
John Gerald Potter (1829-1908), wallpaper manufacturer and patron [more] (see JW's letters to Potter, #05010 and #13346).

5.  sold
Potter sold Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52) and Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Cremorne Lights (YMSM 115) to Arthur ('Peter') Haythorne Studd (1863-1919), painter and collector [more], who bequeathed them to the National Gallery, London in 1919.

6.  me
Double underlined.

7.  Ruskin
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more], Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more], Sir John Holker (1828-1882), Attorney General, counsel for John Ruskin [more]. A reference to testimony in the Whistler v. Ruskin trial of 1878.

8.  Engardine
The Engadine valley region in Switzerland, which contains the fashionable holiday destination of St Moritz.

9.  thirty
A letter from Potter to JW on 24 March [1865] refers to the painting as "the White Maid" (#05621). The painting was apparently in Potter's possession by 25 November [1865], when A. M. Whistler mentioned in a letter how much JW's step-brother George admired the picture (#06526).

10.  Exhibition
Both pictures were exhibited in JW's retrospective exhibition, Nocturnes, Marines and Chevalet Pieces, Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Goupil Gallery, London, 1892.

11.  Leathart
James Leathart (1820-1895), collector [more].

12.  Lange Leize
Purple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks (YMSM 47) was purchased from the Newcastle collector J. Leathart, probably in 1864, and sold early in 1893 for £600 through Goupil's to John Graver Johnson (1841-1917), lawyer and collector [more].

13.  Louis Huth
Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more].

14.  Symphony
Symphony in White, No. 3 (YMSM 61) may have been sold to Huth in 1865, before it was completed. Huth sold it in March/April 1899 through Agnew's to Sir Edmund Davis (1861-1939), patron and collector [more], reputedly for about £2000. It was auctioned after his death and bought by the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, for 3300 guineas.

15.  Nocturne
JW sold Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Battersea Reach (YMSM 152) to Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924), née Stewart, collector [more], in 1895 for 600 guineas.

16.  Fire Wheel
After Kennedy failed to sell Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169), JW sold it to Arthur ('Peter') Haythorne Studd (1863-1919), painter and collector [more], in 1896.

17.  letter
#07227.

18.  Luxembourg
The Steps, Luxembourg (C.68), Conversation under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens (C.69) and The Pantheon, from the terrace of the Luxembourg Gardens (C.70).

19.  sent
Actually dated 22 January 1894, #09714.

20.  draped figure
The Draped Figure, Seated (C.72).

21.  another draped figure
Possibly Draped Model, Standing (C.74) or Draped Model, Standing by a Sofa (C.75).

22.  Corner house, Vitré
The lithographs are probably Gabled Roofs (C.64), The Draped Figure, Seated (C.72), Nude Model, Reclining (C.73), The Marketplace, Vitré (C.62), The Clock-Makers, Paimpol (C.65), Vitré: The Canal (C.63), The Terrace, Luxembourg (C.87), The Steps, Luxembourg (C.68), Conversation under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens (C.69) (see #02703).

23.  January business
This probably refers to medical treatment, and possibly an operation on Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more], who was seriously ill with cancer.

24.  1894
Note written in another hand.