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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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25th December 2003 - Merry Christmas

Christmas cards were first said to have been sent during the nineteenth century. It may have been the historical genre painter and etcher John Calcott Horsley (1817-1903) who designed the first one, a copy of which now resides in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Whistler sent a card with a floral design to his niece Julia de Kay Revillon in the 1860s, which is now in the collection of Glasgow University (see GUL MS Whistler W959).

A further example of a Whistler Christmas greeting occurs in the early 1890s, when the artist writes the following to the journalist William Ernest Henley:

"A Merry Christmas - if such a thing can be at that moment of duns and bedevliments - a merry Christmas from us both, my dear Henley, and a bright New Year! - May every thing be splendid - May you write more beautiful poems - and make more dainty books - May you put gold into your pocket - and may the gold on the little lady's [Henley's daughter Margaret] head be more golden than ever! -"

(GUL MS Whistler N13)