The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 6th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1872
Record 8 of 9

System Number: 10627
Date: [16 June 1876][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Samuel Putnam Avery[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Call Number: Library and Archives, NYMA 87 - AO MS6 - MS10
Document Type: ALS

Dear Mr. Avery -

I have just read your very kind note[3] and thank you for all the good suggestions you make to me -

I shall probably abuse your good nature by sending you some Nocturne[4] to do battle for in New York! - Meanwhile here are the dozen Programmes[5] of the Venice! - Your own [p. 2] returned with the most welcome signature I have put most carefully in the little collection of equally honored ones - I am becoming most orderly and business like you will be glad to hear - As for instance: behold business!

You will find in the package John[6] takes you, two proofs[7] of unique value - so far the only two pulled from an old plate[8] begun of the building of Westminster Bridge - (the present one)[.]

Of course it can never be gone on with, and if you like to have them as curiosities and rarities send me a cheque[9] for a couple of guineas -

Otherwise leave the proofs rolled up and directed to me with at the office and I will take them in passing some morning - I mean dont return them to my servant as he has to go elsewhere for me -

Also I send a couple of Photographs[10] as mementoes of your visit[11] to the studio this time -

And now with kindest regards to yourself and Mrs. Avery[12] whose present I greatly value - and with best wishes for your trip[13] across -

believe me
Ever Sincerely Yours

J A McN. Whistler -

2 Lindsey Houses -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [16 June 1876]
This letter was probably written after S. P. Avery's visit to JW's studio on 16 June, before Avery's departure to Paris. See Beaufort, M. F., Kleinfield, H. L. and Welcher, J. K., (eds) The Diaries 1871-1882 of Samuel P. Avery, Art Dealer,, diary entry, 16 June 1876: 'To Whistler with Wife [...] got etchings signed & c.'

2.  Samuel Putnam Avery
Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), print-publisher, collector and philanthropist [more]. Avery started out as an engraver but by the 1870s had a prospering business importing European works of art for wealthy American collectors. He worked closely with George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), art dealer in Paris [more] who was also well-acquainted with JW. Through Lucas, he was brought into direct contact with artists and dealers in Paris. In addition, Avery was an important patron and promoter of JW's work in the United States. He owned works in oil, including Portrait of Whistler with Hat (YMSM 23). He acquired rare and unique proofs of JW's etchings, introduced him to new patrons and was, as secretary of the Union League Club in New York, behind some of the earliest exhibitions of his oils and etchings there.

3.  note
Letter untraced.

4.  Nocturne
It is not clear which Nocturne JW might be referring to. However, JW first used the term 'Nocturne' at the 6th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1872, in November 1872, when Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Southampton Water (YMSM 117) was exhibited as 'Nocturne in Grey and Gold.' It was exhibited alongside Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 118) (see cat. nos. 187, 237; see also #08794).

5.  Programmes
Probably the circular advertising JW's proposed views of Venice, for which Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more] acted as agent (see #02857).

6.  John
John Cossins, JW's valet [more].

7.  two proofs
Probably Westminster Bridge in Progress (K.72).

8.  plate
The plate is dated 1861.

9.  cheque
Avery's apparent payment of three guineas to JW on 5 September 1876, just before he commenced his return journey to New York, is recorded in his account book. This may have been the 'couple of guineas' that JW asked for. In addition, the account books record that JW was paid a cheque for twenty-five guineas on 6 September, a day later. See Beaufort, op. cit., Accounts III, 14, p. 777 and Accounts III, 9, p. 772.

10.  Photographs

11.  visit
See Beaufort, op. cit., diary entries, 12-14 June 1876.

12.  Mrs. Avery
Mary Ann Avery (1825-1911), née Ogden, wife of S. P. Avery [more].

13.  trip
The Averys left for Paris on 18 June (see Beaufort, op. cit., 1876 itinerary, p. xciv).