UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 08043
Date: [6/10 July 1863][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Henri Fantin-Latour[2]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 1/33/23
Document Type: ALS[3]


7. Lindsey Row.
Battersea bridge
Chelsea. London

Cher Fantin,

Il n'y a que le travail qui nous à empeché de te causer jusqu'à présent - et en attendant tu aurais pu nous dire un mot - sur tout ce qui se passe parmi les autres - Les journaux doivent encore parler de nous - envoies donc quelques uns - le Figaro de Graham[4] doit avoir été bien sur La Fille Blanche[5] - et la Gazette des beaux Arts[6] - et Teophile Gautier[7] et tout ça - cause nous de Manet[8] et du café de Bade - ceci tu sais est une lettre canaille pour toi tout [p. 2] seul! - et maintenant voici ce que [tu] vas propager partout avec toute la finesse de gredin que tu sauras parfaitement y mettre, car nous nous connaissons digne l'un de l'autre! J'ai recu la medaille d'or[9] de la Hollande! Tu glisseras ceci au commandant[10] au Café de Bade, de sorte que les autres puissent l'entendre, et que ca vienne naturalement a se savoir partout. - Fais le mettre dans le Figaro, et par Burty[11] dans la Presse et Baudelaire[12] pourrait bien me faire un article a ce propos. Ernest[13] il faut qu'il le fasse [illegible] partout dire dans les journaux de sa connaissance. Legros[14] est d'abord d'un beau à ne plus le reconnaitre! sa grande préocupation [p. 3] e[s]t la nuance des gants qu'il porte. - Je vais le faire photographier[15] pour que tu puisse le voir dans la fine fleur de sa splendeur! du reste il est le cheri du beau monde içi; toutes les demoiselles Anglaises se font une passion pour lui, et les dames mariées ont l'air de vouloir oublier leur devoir à son intention - aussi Alphonse a-t-il dévelopé des talents de societé que nous ne lui connaissions pas, et son aisance et son aplomb gracieux depassent toute description! Avec tout ceci il travail comme il n'a jamais travaillé; ses tableaux on les lui prend sur le chevalet meme, et tous ses loisirs il passe enfermé avec son tailleur, une des renomées de Londres!

Quant à moi, je suis aussi, jusqu'au cou dans des commandes, et depuis l'aurore jusqu'au soir c'est un travail continuel. Nous nous proposons[16] de revisiter Paris d'ici un mois, et de là partir en Belgique - où [p. 4] tu viendras avec nous - faire des tableaux que nous placerons ici (ceci encore entre nous et pas écrit pour les oreilles des autres.) Mon cher Fantin nous formons plus que jamais la "Société des Trois[17]" - et nous allons faire fortune, et rapidement - car tu sais bien combien je fais mon devoir - soutenir chaquun chacun, les deux autres, s'est se soutenir soi même - nous sommes tous égoistes, et tous pas mal perverti - mais je suis fidel au mot de la société - ainsi pas de maison où j'ai mon entrée, où on n'est pas impatient de te connaitre et pret à recevoir ta peinture - il y a de l'or qui nous attend partout - nous n'avons qu'a nous être fidel -

Maintenant les affaires - : racconte partout le changement de Legros, ca lui fera beaucoup de bien a Paris, et profites de cette occasion pour que cela arrives aux orreilles de de Balleroy[18] - Dis moi si Hardy[19] a pris la Fille Blanche, et la tient emballé pret à mes ordres - tu sais que je ne veux pas qu'il soit exposé chez Martinet[20] - dis nous si le tableau[21] de Legros y est car tu verras si il faut que le sien [p. 5] y soit - Donnes nous tous les details que tu croiras pouvoir nous interesser - Voici une petite comission qui ne t'embetera pas beaucoup, et qui me serrait tres utile - J'ai laissé deux boucles d'orreille immitation de perle pour être reparé chez un bijoutier de la rue Castiglione, tout pres du patissier Anglais qui fait le coin de la rue Castiglione et la rue de Rivoli - entre cela je crois et "John Arthur" le banquier changeur etc . . . - c'était le dernier jour de mon sejour a Paris, et le bijoutier les a inscrit dans son registre sous le nom de Mr James Abbott - [illegible] Tu peux lui montrer ceci, et les boucles d'orreiles tu les connais - Cela doit couter quelques sous seulement, car il n'y avait qu'à les recoller - prends les et envoies moi les dans la boite du beaufrère[22], mais aussitôt que possible - il me les faut pour un tableau[23] - [p. 6]

Adieu mon cher Fantin - Ecrit nous tout de suite -
ton ami

Whistler

Dis moi à qui on a donné les medailles de la gravure[24] au salon -

Les tableaux de Legros sont bigrement jolis, et te feraient grand plaisir - Moi aussi j'en ai en train des choses[25] que nous aimerons.


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

7. Lindsey Row.
Battersea bridge
Chelsea. London

Dear Fantin,

Only work has prevented us from talking to you until now - and whilst waiting you could have sent us a word - about all that is happening to the others - The papers must still be talking about us - so send us some - Graham's Figaro certainly must have been good on the White Girl - and the Gazette des beaux Arts - and Teophile Gautier and all that - tell us about Manet and the café de Bade - you know this is a rascally letter for you [p. 2] alone and now this is what you are going to spread everywhere with all the finesse of a scoundrel which you know perfectly how to apply, because we know we are each other worthy of the other! I have been awarded the gold medal in Holland! Slip this to the Commandant at the Café de Bade, so that the others can hear, and so that it will naturally be known everywhere. - Have it put in the Figaro, and by Burty in the Presse and Baudelaire could well do me an article about it. Ernest he should [illegible] have it mentioned everywhere in the papers he knows. First Legros is so fine you would not recognise him! his main preoccupation [p. 3] is the shade of his gloves. - I am going to have him photographed so that you can see him in the fine flower of his splendour! He is indeed a society darling here; all the young English ladies have fallen in love with him, and the married ladies seem to wish to forget their duty because of him - also Alphonse has developed social skills that we did not know he possessed, and his ease and confident graciousness surpass all description! In addition to all this he is working as never before; they are taking his pictures straight from the easel, and all his leisure time is spent with his tailor, one of the marvels of London!

As for me, I am also up to my neck in orders, and from dawn to dusk the work is continuous. We intend to visit Paris in a month's time, and from there go to Belgium - where [p. 4] you will come with us - to do some pictures which we will place here (this is between us and not written for the ears of others.) My dear Fantin we will be the "Band of Three" more than ever - and we are going to make our fortunes, and quickly - because you know how much I do my duty - each supporting the two others, is to support oneself - we are all selfish, and all a little perverse - but I am faithful to the word of the society, so that there is no door open to me where everyone is not eager also to meet you and to accept your painting - there is gold waiting for us everywhere - we have only to be loyal to each other -

Now to business -: tell everyone about the change in Legros, it will do him a great deal of good in Paris, and take advantage of this to ensure that it reaches de Balleroy's ears - Tell me if Hardy has taken the White Girl, and keep it packed awaiting my orders - you know I do not want it to be exhibited at Martinet's - tell us if Legros' picture is there because you will see whether his should be there - Give us all the details that you think might interest us - Here is a small errand which should not trouble you very much and which would be very useful to me - I left two imitation pearl earrings to be repaired at a jeweller's in the rue Castiglione, near the English cake shop at the corner of the rue Castiglione and the rue de Rivoli - between that I think and "John Arthur" the banker money-changer etc ... it was the last day of my stay in Paris, and the jeweller has entered them in his register under the name of Mr James Abbott - You can show him this, and you know the earrings - It should only cost a few sous, because he has only to stick them back on - take them and send them to me in my brother-in-law's box, but as soon as possible - I need them for a picture - [p. 6]

Goodbye my dear Fantin - Write to us straight away -
your friend

Whistler

Tell me who has received the medals for engravings at the Salon -

Legros' pictures are awfully good, and would give you much pleasure - I am also doing things which we will like.


Notes:

1.  [6/10 July 1863]
This letter follows JW's letter to Carel Vosmaer, acknowledging the award of a gold medal for his etchings at the Hague, #09504. A date in early July is indicated by the references to reviews mentioning JW, and to the award of the Salon medals; see below.

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

3.  ALS
'21' is written in another hand at the top of p. 1.

4.  Graham
The pen-name of Arthur Stevens (1825-1900), dealer and, as 'Graham', art critic [more].

5.  La Fille Blanche
Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38), exhibited at the 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. 'Graham' (Arthur Stevens) wrote in Le Figaro, 16 July 1863: 'Je considère ce tableau comme l'une des oeuvres les plus saisissantes de l'Exposition, bien qu'il se trouve dans la salle des refusés, circonstance évidemment due à une inadvertence du jury.'

6.  Gazette des beaux Arts
Paul Mantz, 'Salon de 1863, Peinture et sculpture III', Gazette des Beaux Arts, XV, July 1863, pp. 32-64; see pp. 60-61. Mantz was the first critic to describe JW's painting as a 'Symphonie en blanc.'

7.  Gautier
Pierre-Jules-Théophile Gautier (1811-1872), poet and critic [more].

8.  Manet
Edouard Manet (1832-1883), painter [more]. The café de Bade in the centre of Paris was his late afternoon headquarters until 1866, when he abandoned it for the café Guerbois.

9.  medaille d'or
Awarded for the etchings exhibited in Tentoonstelling van Kunstwerken van Levende Meesters, Hague School of Art, Princessegracht, 1863.

10.  commandant
Commandant Hippolyte Lejosne (1814-1884), army officer [more], kinsman of Bazille and a friend of the Manet family.

11.  Burty
Philippe Burty (1830-1890), critic [more].

12.  Baudelaire
Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867), poet and critic [more]; he much admired JW's etchings. The previous year he had described them as 'subtiles, éveillées comme l'improvisation et l'inspiration' and as capturing 'la poésie profonde et compliquée d'une vaste capitale'; see his article in La Revue anecdotique, April 1862 (reprinted in Le Boulevard and subsequently in 'L'Art romantique' and 'Curiosités esthétiques', Oeuvres complètes, Paris, 1954, pp. 847, 1477).

13.  Ernest
Ernest Delannoy (d. 1860/1870), art student, JW's travel companion in 1858 [more].

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

15.  photographier
No record has been traced of JW actually having a photograph taken of Legros at this time.

16.  proposons
JW's proposed journey with Legros to Paris and Belgium does not seem to have materialized; in August, however, they went to Holland with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

17.  Société des Trois
The 'Société des Trois' was a loose association formed by JW, Fantin and Legros in October 1858, for the purpose of helping each other to promote their careers. Both Fantin and Legros had studied under Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran (1802-1897), artist and teacher [more], whose ideas therefore influenced JW.

18.  de Balleroy
Albert, comte de Balleroy (1828-1873), painter and printmaker [more].

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

20.  Martinet
Louis Martinet (1814-1895), history painter, Directeur des Beaux-Arts [more]. Despite what JW says here about not wanting The White Girl to be shown at Martinet's gallery, it was hung there in July and seen by Fantin-Latour on 18 July; see Fantin-Latour's letter of 19 July, #01082.

21.  tableau
The work by Legros has not been identified.

22.  beaufrère
F. S. Haden, mentioned above.

23.  tableau
Pearl ear-rings appear in Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52), though this was not painted until the following year.

24.  gravure
The list of awards, announced on 6 July 1863 and printed in Le Moniteur on 7 July, was published the following year in the Salon catalogue for 1864, p. xxi; Fantin's reply to JW's request is #01078.

25.  choses
Perhaps Grey and Silver: Old Battersea Reach (YMSM 46).