The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 18 of 23

System Number: 09848
Date: [18 June 1897][1]
Author: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[2]
Place: New York
Recipient: [none]
Repository: New York Public Library
Call Number: E. G. Kennedy III/181
Credit Line: Edward Guthrie Kennedy Papers / Manuscripts and Archives Division / The New York Public Library / Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Document Type: AD

Whistler Skit

"To O'K. with warning"
on the Jubilee skit by Whistler


Regarding, "To OK with warning", I used to tell Whistler that when I was at Seymour Haden's[3] house in Hampshire, when we drove to the Station (Haden & I), Seymour used to wave his hand & smile in a paternal way, as the little rustic's used to bob curtseys as we passed by in his Victoria. This was true, & Haden used to do it in the style of Sir Leicester Dedlock[4] - the infernal old toady to rank & royalty!

When Whistler did this skit on the Jubilee, he was, assured, whimsical, unreasonable and violently prejudiced against all[5] [p. 2] thing's English; comparing the then half finished work, (Jubilee decorations[6]) with the French effects in honour of the Russian Czar[7] &c.; all very violent and one-sided, because the then every thing was unfinished.

Because I expostulated against his unfairness, he used to say, "Yes, O'K - I see how it is, you are really becoming more English every day & I see you in the future more & more like Haden". "Good Lord, Whistler," said I, "anything but being like that hoggish person"! Hence the inscription on the skit, "To O'K, with warning".

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1.  [18 June 1897]
This refers to JW's cartoon, Admiral Nelson -'Boarded at last!' (M.1507), which was published in the Daily Chronicle, 18 June 1897.

2.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more]. JW called him O'K.

3.  Seymour Haden's
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

4.  Sir Leicester Dedlock
The aristocrat from Dickens's novel Bleak House, 1852-53.

5.  all
Double underlined.

6.  Jubilee decorations
The sixtieth year of the reign of Queen Victoria was celebrated with a public procession that began at Buckingham Palace. In the week running up to the Diamond Jubilee, JW wrote in numerous letters how gaudy and unsophisticated he thought the celebration to be (see #06315, #04707, #09769).

7.  Czar
Nicholas II Romanov (1868-1918), Tsar of Russia from 1894-1917 [more]. The official visit of the Czar to Paris was celebrated by parades and general festivity.