The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01842
Date: [11 August 1887][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: [Henry Matthews][2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G207
Document Type: MsLc[3]


It will doubtless have been brought to your knowledge that I lost no time after my return to London, in calling upon you to thank you personally and in the name of the Royal Society of British Artists for your exceeding kindness and consideration shewn to the Society in the matter of our Memorial to Her Majesty[4].

Aware as I am of the great pressure of official duties upon your time, I have abstained from adding unnecessarily to that pressure by a second visit.

I have now the pleasure of informing you that, at a special assembly of the Society[5], last night held, Her Majesty's condescending and favourable response, received through you was laid before the members together with Her gracious commands that the Society be henceforth styled and known as "The Royal Society of British Artists." And it is now my agreeable privilege, Sir, in offering you the cordial and sincere thanks of the Society, to ask that you will enhance the obligations, already laid upon us, by conveying at such time, and in such manner as may seem to you opportune, to Her Most Gracious Majesty the profound and sincere gratitude of all the members of the Society for the signal mark she has deigned to give us of Her royal interest and goodwill.

I beg you assure Her Majesty in our behalf, that no efforts will ever be spared by us, and by our successors to Serve and advance those best interests of British Art, which throughout Her Majesty's long and glorious reign, have steadily prospered and made progress under Her enlightened patronage and protection

And I am,
Your obedient servant

(signed) J. McNeill Whistler

The Rt Hon. The Secretary of State
for the Home Department.

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1.  [11 August 1887]
Dated by reference to RBA meeting of 10 August 1887 as 'last night' (see below).

2.  [Henry Matthews]
Rt Hon. Henry Matthews (1868-1874), QC, MP, Home Secretary [more].

3.  MsLc
Written by Charles James Whistler Hanson (1870-1935), engineer, son of JW and Louisa Fanny Hanson [more]. There are two drafts of this letter (#01841, #01843).

4.  Memorial to Her Majesty
On 27 July JW attended the Jubilee Naval Review at Spithead. He made a set of twelve etchings, the 'Naval Review set', (K. 316-331) that was presented to Queen Victoria in a specially designed album (see M.1132-3, 1138-45). Whistler then sent an illuminated Memorial to the Queen requesting that the Society be called 'Royal'. The SBA received a Royal Charter, thus becoming the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA).

5.  at a special assembly of the Society
JW announced the new title to the Society on 10 August 1887 (JW, 9 August 1900, quoted by Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, pp. 65-67: RBA Minutes).