UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Fine Art Society, The
Record 12 of 549

System Number: 02613
Date: [26/31 November 1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Arthur Lasenby Liberty[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L147
Document Type: ALS


THE WHITE HOUSE.[3]
CHELSEA EMBANKMENT.

Dear Mr Liberty -

You are really more than considerate[4] and it is not easy to thank you. -

Of course I have been as you [know] tremendously absorbed in the trial[5] matter - and you will be pleased to know how greatly delighted I am with the fight as far as it has gone -

I come home to find my place covered [p. 2] with letters of congratulation and sympathy - and among them many from people quite unknown to me! -

Of course "costs[6]" would have been more satisfactory to the minds of some - but to the world really it has been a great victory morally - and the first shot at the "Critic" has at last been fired - You know I always win in the end! -

Now of course what you say of the proof of Carlyle[7] (which I am so very pleased to know you like) you naturally felt that asking for it's price could be no deed of mine! -

However that was put right at once by Mr Howell[8] himself who saw learned the fact at Graves[9]! where the mistake had been made -

Mr Howells great Railway Case[10] by the way you have heard doubtless he gained the other day with thousands! and I trust myself [p. 3] also soon to bring you gold -

With many thanks
Very truly yours

J A McN. Whistler


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

1.  [26/31 November 1878]
This letter dates from just after the Whistler v. Ruskin trial on 25-26 November 1878.

2.  Arthur Lasenby Liberty
Arthur Lasenby Liberty (1843-1917), designer, founder of Liberty and Co. [more].

3.  THE WHITE HOUSE.
Address header is embossed upon page.

4.  considerate
JW was a regular customer of Liberty's Oriental Warehouse at 218 Regent Street. Although by 14 September 1878 there were three bills outstanding, Liberty appears to have allowed him further credit (see #08740).

5.  trial
JW won his libel suit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more], which took place on 25-26 November 1878, but was awarded only derisory damages of a farthing towards his legal costs.

6.  costs
According to Pennell, the Fine Art Society managed an appeal to cover Ruskin's costs which by 10 December had raised £151. 5s. 6d: 'J. P. Heseltine wished to get up a subscription for Whistler, started it with a contribution of twenty-five pounds, and a list was opened at the office of L'Art, 134 New Bond Street. But nothing came of it, except that Whistler sent one of his pastels to Mr. Heseltine.' (Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, I, pp. 244-45). As a result, JW's already straightened finances reached crisis point and a petition was filed for his bankruptcy on 9 May 1879 (#08895).

7.  proof of Carlyle
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) was engraved by Richard Josey (1840-1906), reproductive engraver [more], and published by H. Graves and Co. The first proofs were delivered on 2 December 1878 (Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, I, pp. 226-27).

8.  Mr Howell
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more], had acquired the copyright of Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137), for £80 and six proofs, and he organised subscriptions for Josey's engraving (see #02785).

9.  Graves
Henry Graves (1806-1892), print dealer and founder of H. Graves and Co. [more].

10.  Railway Case
Howell v. Chatham and District Railway Company, 1878. There is an amusing account of the trial in the E. W. Godwin papers (Victoria and Albert Museum, AAD).