UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Malcolm Charles Salaman, 1855-1940

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1855.09.06
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1940.01.22
Place of Death:

Identity:

Malcolm Charles Salaman was an art critic and dramatist. He married Annie Sarah Isaac.

Life:

Salaman saw Whistler's Six Projects in his studio in June 1886. He mentioned Venus (YMSM 82) in particular, describing it as 'a sketch of a Venus, very lovely in colour and design, the nude figure standing close to the sea with delicate gauze draperies being lifted by the breeze'. He also saw 'A superb portrait of Mrs Godwin... painted in artificial light', Harmony in Red: Lamplight (YMSM 253), and 'A full length portrait of Mr Walter Sickert... in evening dress... against a dark wall', Portrait of Walter Sickert (YMSM 349). He wrote concerning the portrait of Sickert in the Court and Society Review on 1 July 1886: 'The values of the black tones... are wonderfully mastered'. He also described Lady with a Fan (YMSM 352) and Portrait of Maud Franklin (YMSM 353), showing particular admiration for the latter: 'The painting of the head is as refined and beautiful a piece of work as I have ever seen'.

This review gave further interesting details of Whistler's studio ('The plain white-washed walls, the unadorned wooden rafters,... the vast space unencumbered by furniture, and the large table palette, all give the appearance of the working place where serious Art alone is tolerated'), of his palette ('the colours were systematically arranged, almost with the appearance of a picture. In the centre was white and on one side were the various reds leading up to black, while on the other side were the yellows leading up to blue') and of the man himself ('his whole body seems instinct with energy and enthusiasm for his work, his face lit up with flashes of quick and strong thought, as that of a man who sees with his brains as well as with his eyes, and his brush-hand electric in sympathy with both'). Whistler allowed his A Further Proposition to be printed for the first time with this article.

Salaman wrote a number of articles for Court and Society Review, including 'Hail, President Whistler!', 'A Country Collector', 'A British Artist', 'The Unknown Quantity', 'Van Eyck' to the Editor and M. C. Salaman to the Editor (#11351, #11352, #11353, #11354, #11355, #11356). He also wrote on art for the Manchester Courier, most notably on Whistler and the Society of British Artists. Whistler was quite happy to use Salaman as a public spokesman, writing to him with information about himself he wished to have relayed to the public, for example, at his being elected an honorary member of the Royal Academy of Munich in 1888 (#08121). However, the editor of the art and literary section was 'anti-Whistler' and Salaman lost his job in 1888 over his pro-Whistler and anti-establishment statements. This was a blow to him as he also contributed articles on dramatic work and other subjects to the newspaper (#05364).

Bibliography:

Salaman, Malcolm C., Court and Society Review, 1 July 1886; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Salaman, M. C., Modern Masters of Etching, London, 1921; Who was Who: A Companion to Who's Who, London, 1920 et seq.; Salaman, M. C., The Etchings of Sir Francis Seymour Haden P.R.E., London, 1923; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; Who was who: a cumulated index, 1897-1990, London, 1991; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.