The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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5th March 2003 - Fan Mail

One hundred and twenty years ago today, a certain Mr R. Stewart Patterson wrote to Whistler from 1 Albyn Place, Edinburgh, having been recently impressed with the publication accompanying the show of Venice Etchings on display at The Fine Art Society in London.

'Sir,' Patterson writes, 'I have procured a copy of your Catalogue 'Etchings and Drypoints' and having derived great pleasure from its perusal, I cannot deny myself the additional pleasure of stating (though perhaps there may be much temerity in attempting it) how much I admire your manliness in the courageous array of all the adverse criticisms passed upon your Etchings.' He then goes on to prove his credentials as a bona fide lover of art: 'I have a great admiration for engravings and etchings, a liking which is somewhat hereditary, as my Father-in-law, the late William Howison, an Associate of The Royal Scottish Academy, was the Engraver of Sir Wm Allan's "Polish Exiles," ... and other well known pictures'. After commenting on the 'mechanical difficulties' which, in Patterson's opinion, make etched works all the more admirable than paintings, he concludes: 'Will you please pardon me for indulging this enthusiasm so far as to have ventured to write to one to whom I am a complete stranger. I have the honour to be yours faithfully, R. Stewart Patterson.'

It is not known whether Whistler responded to Patterson's effusive letter of admiration.

(GUL Whistler P177)