The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > Whistler 2003 > Journal

Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

return to list of journal entries

14th February 2003 - A Whistler Valentine

Glasgow University Library's collection of Whistler documents contains many surprising items, including a Valentine's card sent by the artist to his cousin Emma Palmer on 14 February 1850, when they were both 15.

Neatly painted in watercolour are a dancing couple, the young man dressed in a blue jacket, with a red stripe on his trousers and a cocked hat, the girl in a low-waisted carmine dress with a blue belt. Beneath is a verse written in ink by Whistler's famous mother, Anna McNeill Whistler:

I'm a novice at this,
But a sweet blue eyed Miss,
Cannot fail to inspire
A youth's fond desire,
To contribute his mite
To surprise and delight,
I bow to your Shine
Adopt me your Valentine,
Perpetual good humour!

At this time, Whistler and his family lived in Pomfret, Connecticut. Emma Palmer was a childhood friend, and later the source of many anecdotes about his boyhood, which were recorded before she died in 1912.