UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01078
Date: [11 July 1863][1]
Author: Henri Fantin-Latour[2]
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: JW and Alphonse Legros
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler F9
Document Type: ALS


Illustre Whistler [sketch of laurel wreath[3]] 1863
Illustre Legros[4] [sketch of laurel wreath] 1861

Samedi Soir

Mes illustres Amis

si je ne vous ai pas écrits c'est qu'il n'y avait pas de nouvelles intéressantes, pas de médailles d'or, pas de mention honorable[.] Whistler que diable l'on ne peut pas écrire comme cela pour rien - et tu as raison de dire[5] c'est le travail qui a empèché de causer (cela vaut mieux certes). les Journaux n'ont presque plus rien dit de vous. le fameux Graham[6] c'est refroidi il n'y a pas eu d'articles pour les Refusées[7] il a dit je n'ai plus de temps[.] Alfred Stevens[8] a été décoré, les médailles pour la Gravure sont stupide[.] Mme Browne[9] a une medaille de troisième classe, charmant, charmant tout pour les Dames. Il y a eu aussi de Jolies discours[.] le Maréchal Vaillant[10] à mélées le Sabre avec le pinceau le pinceau avec le sable. Michel Ange[11] [p. 2] avec Horace Vernet[12], le Titien[13] etc etc. le Comte[14] a prononcé le sien aussi il a melé la Betise avec la Stupidité, le Bon gout, la Beauté en Opposition avec l'excentricité et l'Innovation - Pouah - On a décoré les Dr Rudder[15] et les Desjobert[16] Médaillé les Brion[17] et les Protais[18] Melés les Elèves de Picot[19] et Briguiboul[20] oui Briguiboul a été pris par eux[.] Ces Vielles Bêtes reconnaissent encore les Jeunes Gens qui leurs ressemblent. tout enfin est pour le mieux[21] dans le meilleur . . . . . . .

Je ne suis du reste pas très bien informé. J'ai plein le dos du café de Bade[22] et autres lieu - que voulez vous, je ne suis rien là - Je vais avoir été si privé de tout espèce de succès que quand il viendra, j'y serais insensible[.] Te causer de Manet[23], ma foi que t'en dire que lui et Baudelaire[24] s'entendent pour dire que Monsieur Ingres[25] n'est pas un peintre! - voila la jeune [p. 3] Ecole, les Semi-romantiques comme l'on nous appelle, nous, a mais non Je fais bande a Part - Je suis avec eux au Café de Bade aujourd hui mais jamais Rien avec Eux, ni idées ni travaux, le moment est passé - Vous deux vous avez des Qualités et je le dis, je le dirai, mais vous et les Autres, c'est different. Avec vous il y a confession, nous savons que nous voulons résister contre la masse bête, mais chacun séparement très libre - Si Legros aime les Primitifs Holbein[26], les Allemands, les gens a mains jointes[27] et tous ce qui est naïf, si toi, aux Luxes des Salons et aux Splendeurs des tavernes et des Bords de la tamise[28], Moi, j'ai ma petite idées - et nous nous [foutons[29]pas?] de chacun de nous, ce n'est pas au fond par amour de notre ami, si nous en parlons, c'est Une chose forcée, la valeur d'un homme obligé a l'avoir pour camarades - Je me suis [p. 4] rejetté dans le travail, est me sent grandir, je vais bientot être un Artiste[.] Ta Médaille d'or sera comme partout mais je crois que cela ne peux pas faire grand effet[30], autant que tu crois, et puis a qui veux tu que je le dise[31] moi! Ah. Legros se jette dans la dandysme[32] elle est bonne, qu'il trouve une femme voila un moyen de faire fortune - tes projets[33] de Voyage et de fortune c'est très gentil de ta part, mais que veux tu je ne crois a rien de toutes ces choses, on a la fortune, à sa porte si l'on a chance de la rencontrer - Etre de la Societé des trois[34] me plait, mais de ma part ce n'est qu'une chose nature vous faites mieux que tous, je ne vous lacherai pas tant que vous ferez des choses qui me plaisent[.] Faut il dire a Hardy[35] d'Emballer la fille Blanche[36], des Ordres précis avec l'epoque ou tu en auras besoin pour que je prévienne Hardy. Je n'ai pas encore vu l'exposition Martinet[37] - rien n'y est encore voila pour Legros . - . la Caisse pour Mr Haden[38] est partie ce matin. Ecrit moi, pour savoir comment j'enverrai les Boucles d'oreilles[39].

Adieu

Fantin.


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

Illustrious Whistler [sketch of laurel wreath] 1863
Illustrious Legros [sketch of laurel wreath] 1861

Saturday Evening

My illustrious Friends

if I have not written to you it is because there has been no interesting news, no gold medals, no honourable mention[.] Whistler what the devil one cannot write just like that for no reason - and you are right to say that it is work which has prevented conversation (that is certainly better). the papers have said hardly any more about you. the famous Graham has cooled down again he has not had any articles about the Rejects he said I have no more time[.] Alfred Stevens has been decorated, the medals for engraving are stupid[.] Mrs Browne has a third-class medal, charming, charming all for the ladies. There have also been some pretty discourses Marshal Vaillant mixed the sabre with the paintbrush and the paintbrush with the sand. Michelangelo [p. 2] with Horace Vernet, Titian etc etc. the Count held forth also he mixed Foolishness with Stupidity, Good taste, Beauty in opposition to eccentricity and Innovation - Ugh - They have decorated the Dr Rudders and the Desjoberts awarded Medals to the Brions and the Protais thrown in the pupils of Picot and Briguiboul yes they accepted Briguiboul[.] These old idiots can still recognise young people who are like them, well everything is for the best in the best .......

As for the rest I am not very well informed. I am fed up with the café Baden and other places - what can you do, I am nothing there - I am beginning to feel so deprived of any kind of success that when it comes, I shall not feel it To tell you about Manet, well what can I tell you that he and Baudelaire agree that Mr Ingres is not a painter! - there is the young [p. 3] school for you, the Semi-Romantics as they call us, but no I am on my own - I have been with them today at the café Baden but never have anything in common with them, neither ideas nor work, the moment has passed - The two of you have qualities and I say, will say, you and the others, there is a difference. With you it is open confession, we know we want to fight against the stupid masses, but each of us separately very free - If Legros likes the Primitives Holbein, the Germans, the people with hands pressed together and everything naive, you in the luxuries of the Salons and the splendours of the taverns and the banks of the Thames, I myself have my own little view - and we say to hell with it for each of us, it is not basically for love of our friend, if we talk about it, it is an obligation, the quality of a man obliged to feel it for friends - I have [p. 4] thrown myself into my work, and feel myself growing, I am soon going to be an artist[.] Your gold medal will be the same as always but I think it will not have a great effect, as much as you think, and then who do you want me to talk to about it! Ah. Legros is throwing himself into dandyism that is good, let him find a wife that is a way to make one's fortune - your plans for travel and fortune it is very kind of you, but well I do not believe in any of those things, one has fortune, at one's door if one has the luck to meet it - I like being in the Band of three, but as far as I am concerned it is purely a natural thing you two are doing better than everyone, I will not let you go while you are doing things that I like[.] Should I tell Hardy to pack the White Girl, precise requirements about the time when you will need it so that I can warn Hardy. I have not yet seen the Martinet exhibition - there is nothing there yet this is for Legros. - . the box for Mr Haden left this morning. Write to me, so that I know how to send the ear-rings.

Goodbye

Fantin


Notes:

1.  [11 July 1863]
This is a reply to JW's letter of early July (#08043). It was written before Fantin-Latour saw a review of the Salon in the Figaro of 16 July 1863, and before his visit to Martinet's gallery on 18 July, as noted below. Fantin-Latour dates the letter 'Saturday', i.e. 11 July.

2.  Henri Fantin-Latour
Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), artist [more].

3.  laurel wreath
The date '1863' appears in the centre of the laurel wreath, doubtless in reference to JW being awarded a gold medal for his etchings at the Tentoonstelling van Kunstwerken van Levende Meesters, Hague School of Art, Princessegracht, 1863 (see #08043). Legros is accorded equal attention for the medal he received in 1861, when he exhibited A. Legros, L'Ex Voto (z9) at the Salon (cat. no. 1900). See Alphonse Legros, 1837-1911, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon, 1987-1988, catalogue by Timothy Wilcox, cat. no. 16.

4.  Legros
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more].

5.  dire
A reference to JW's letter, in which he told Fantin-Latour it was only work that had prevented him from writing.

6.  Graham
The pen-name of Arthur Stevens (1825-1900), dealer and, as 'Graham', art critic [more]. Despite Fantin-Latour's comments here, Stevens wrote about the Salon in Le Figaro, 16 July 1863; for his enthusiastic comments on JW's Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38), see the notes to #08043.

7.  Refusées
Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, gravure, lithographie et architecture, refusés par le Jury de 1863, et exposés, par décision de S. M. l'Empereur, au salon annexe, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1863.

8.  Stevens
Alfred Émile-Léopold Stevens (1823-1906), history and portrait painter [more], created Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1863 for his Salon entries (cat. nos. 1749, 1750, 1751).

9.  Browne
Henriette Browne (1829-1901), later Mme Jules de Saux, artist [more]; awarded a 3rd class medal for her etchings in the Salon, cat. nos. 2585, 2586 (in the same section as JW, cat. nos. 2756, 2757, 2758).

10.  Vaillant
Jean-Baptiste-Philibert Vaillant (1790-1872), maréchal de France [more]; his address to the 1863 Salon is given in the 1864 Salon catalogue, pp. viii-xi.

11.  Michel Ange
Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564), sculptor and painter [more].

12.  Vernet
Émile Jean Horace Vernet (1789-1863), history and military painter [more]. Vernet had died on 17 January and Vaillant was eloquent in his praise of 'l'un des plus illustres maréchaux ... [de] l'armée des arts.'

13.  Titien
Tiziano ('Titian') Vecello or Vecellio (1485-1576), painter and engraver [more].

14.  Comte
Alfred Emilien O'Hara (1811-1892), Comte de Nieuwerkerke, sculptor, Directeur-General des Musées [more]; his address to the 1863 Salon is given in the 1864 Salon catalogue, pp. xii-xv.

15.  Rudder
Louis-Henri de Rudder (1807-1881), genre and history painter [more]. He was created Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1863 for his Salon entries (cat. nos. 1648, 1649).

16.  Desjobert
Louis-Remy-Eugène Desjobert (1817-1863), landscape painter [more]. He was created Chevalier of the Légion d'Honneur in 1863 for his Salon entries (cat. nos. 571, 572, 573).

17.  Brion
Gustave Brion (1824-1877), genre and history painter [more]. He was awarded a 1st class medal for his Salon entries (cat. nos. 284, 285).

18.  Protais
Paul-Alexandre Protais (1826-1890), painter [more]. He was awarded a 3rd class medal for his Salon entries (cat. nos. 1541, 1542, 1543).

19.  Picot
François-Edouard Picot (1786-1868), painter [more]. Pupils of Picot exhibiting at the Salon included Henri Dargelas (cat. nos. 502, 503, 504), Léon Gauthier (cat. nos. 754, 755, 756), Jules-Eugène Humbert (cat. nos. 2100), Nicolas-Pierre-Théodore Maillot (cat. nos. 1254, 1255), Jean-Léon Pallière (cat. nos. 1424, 1425), and Emile-Alfred Rousseaux (cat. nos. 2198, 2199).

20.  Briguiboul
Jean-Pierre-Marcel-Numa Briguiboul (1837-1892), painter and sculptor [more]. He was awarded a 3rd class medal for his Salon entries (cat. nos. 279, 280).

21.  pour le mieux
An ironical quotation from Voltaire: 'Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possibles' (All is for the best in the best of possible worlds); Candide ou l'optimisme, Geneva, 1759, chapter 30 (Theodore Besterman et al., (ed.), Les oeuvres complètes de Voltaire, Oxford, 1980, vol. 48).

22.  café de Bade
Café frequented by Manet and other artists.

23.  Manet
Edouard Manet (1832-1883), painter [more].

24.  Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), poet and critic [more].

25.  Ingres
Jean Dominique Ingres (1780-1867), painter [more].

26.  Holbein
Hans Holbein the Elder (1460/1465-1524), history and portrait painter [more], or possibly his son, Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543), painter and engraver [more].

27.  gens a mains jointes
A. Legros, L'Ex Voto (z9) shows a group of women praying in front of a wayside shrine (see above).

28.  tamise
JW's painting of a tavern on the Thames is Wapping (YMSM 35). Fantin-Latour may also be referring to A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames, 1871 (the 'Thames Set') (K.38-44, 46, 52, 66, 68, 71, 74-76, 95) (excat 4).

29.  foutons
The word is not clear, having been crossed through and the crossing apparently cancelled with dots.

30.  effet
Corrected from 'effort'.

31.  que je le dise
JW had asked Fantin-Latour to pass on the news about his gold medal (see #08043).

32.  dandysme
JW had commented on Legros's new interest in clothes (see #08043).

33.  projets
JW had suggested that Fantin-Latour should accompany Legros and himself to Belgium (see #08043).

34.  Societé des trois
The 'Société des Trois' was a loose association formed by JW, Fantin-Latour and Legros in October 1858, for the purpose of helping each other to promote their careers.

35.  Hardy
P. Hardy (later Hardy-Alan), colour merchant in Paris from 1860-1903 [more].

36.  la fille Blanche
Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38) was exhibited at Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, gravure, lithographie et architecture, refusés par le Jury de 1863, et exposés, par décision de S. M. l'Empereur, au salon annexe, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1863.

37.  Martinet
Louis Martinet (1814-1895), history painter, Directeur des Beaux-Arts [more]. Despite what JW wrote in his earlier letter to Fantin-Latour (#08043) about not wanting Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38) to be shown at Martinet's gallery, it was hung there in July and seen by Fantin-Latour on 18 July 1863 (see Fantin-Latour's letter of 19 July, #01082).

38.  Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. He bought works by both Legros and Fantin-Latour.

39.  Boucles d'oreilles
JW had asked Fantin-Latour to collect some ear-rings that he had taken to be repaired in Paris (see #08043).