The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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16th June 2003 - Whistler On-Line

The correspondence of Whistler's artistic career, covering the years 1855-1903 and numbering over 10,000 letters, forms one of the largest surviving groups of documents on the art world of London and Paris in this period. Almost 6,000 of the letters are written by Whistler himself; the rest are letters written on his behalf, letters that he received and letters relating to him.

With extensive British and American research funding, the Centre for Whistler Studies at the University has spent over 12 years to prepare them for publication this year. The first section, covering 1855-1880 with some 1750 letters, will be published on Monday 16 June as a major element of the Whistler Centenary, for which the University's Hunterian Art Gallery exhibitions open to the public on 21 June.

Nigel Thorp, Director of the Centre, commented, 'Whistler's correspondence is an amazingly rich source of information - and gossip - for the art world of London and Paris over a period of 50 years. Whistler's struggles and triumphs are seen through his contacts with fellow artists and actors, society figures and lawyers, politicians and poets, writers and even fishmongers, which bring the whole period to life in absorbing detail.'

For all his flamboyance, however, his own words do not hide his seriousness of purpose as an artist. His journey through confidence, doubt and disasters to fulfillment and recognition is an absorbing tale that has waited 100 years to be told in full.

Judith Hodgson
(Glasgow University Press Officer)