The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Exposition, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1888
Record 2 of 30

System Number: 13475
Date: [1/8 May 1887][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Arthur Melville[2]
Place: [Edinburgh]
Repository: Private collection
Document Type: ALS



Dear Mr Melville -

The little painting and drawings went on to you yesterday I am told - forwarded by the Goupil, so I hope they will have arrived safely - Here is the list - and the prices - The names in full are on the backs of panels. -

Hotel Garden Dieppe[3] - (oil) - ...              100 gns
Grey[4] & Silver. three clouds                     80.
Bank Holliday[5] [sic] banners                     80.
Trouville[6]                                       80.
Off Amsterdam[7] - long blue & silver              60.
Blue[8] & Gold - (Westgate[)] - large drawing -    50.

[p. 2] The two lead pencil drawings[9] are as I told you curious in their price as compared to their size!

I want 25 guineas for each of them -

And now many thanks - and I beg that you will not let these matters of [illegible] become a bother to yourself -

As to the etchings I can say only that the Dowdeswells[10] (133 New Bond Street) - have what is called the ["]Second Series[11]" of Venice, and the Fine Art Society (148 New Bond Street) have the first series[12] - they would send the lists of course - Also the Fine Art Society have I believe some if not all of the Thames[13] - I myself own some few only -

This for me is a long letter, and I fear you will be tired if you get through it all -

Very sincerely

J McN. Whistler

Do send me the address of Mr. Stevenson[14] who was here with you all and Miss Martin[15]

Also surely could he have written that very silly article in the Glascow [sic] Herald on the Private View of the Society of British Artists[16]? -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [1/8 May 1887]
A date in early May is suggested by a follow-up letter from JW to Melville, which is dated 17 May, #12803. The reference to the Society of British Artists suggests the year is 1886 or 1887, during JW's Presidency; either date would tie in with JW's address. JW is not known to have visited Paris in April-May 1886 or 1887, although he might well have gone over in connection with either Exposition Internationale de Peinture et de Sculpture, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1887, or Exposition, Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, 1888. Since a number of the works mentioned were in 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886, it seems unlikely that they could have been sent in early May 1886 to Paris; the date of May 1887 therefore seems more likely.

2.  Arthur Melville
Arthur Melville (1855-1905), watercolour painter [more]. This document was passed, for some reason, to Theodore Roussel (1847-1926), painter and print-maker [more], who was a close friend and supporter of JW, and fellow member of the Society of British Artists, at this time (private collection records). See also JW's letter to D.C. Thomson regarding the sending of works of art to Melville, #08364.

3.  Hotel Garden Dieppe
White and Grey: La Cour de l'hôtel, Dieppe (YMSM 325), which was priced at £35 at the time of 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886, and 50 gns for 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1889. It was eventually sold to J. J. Cowan for £90 in 1900. Most of the works in this list were shown in Dowdeswell's in 1886, but the titles and prices do not tally exactly. Since JW changed the titles quite often it is difficult to trace the history of some works. This difficulty is compounded when there is no catalogue, as in small dealer's shows, or in the show of JW's work organised by W. R. Sickert ([Exhibition of the work of J. McN. Whistler], College for Working Men and Women, London, 1889).

4.  Grey
Possibly Green and Silver. The Three Clouds (M.1174).

5.  Bank Holliday
Grey and pearl - Bank Holiday Banners (M.954), exhibited in Dowdeswell's in 1886.

6.  Trouville
Possibly Green and pearl - La plage, Dieppe (M.1025) or Grey and yellow - Sun and Sands, Trouville (M.1030), both shown in Dowdeswell's in 1886.

7.  Off Amsterdam
Possibly Grey and Gold - Off Holland (M.939), exhibited in 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1889, and bought by C. H. Tweed. Alternatively, it could be Off the Dutch coast (M.940), which is not known to have been exhibited, or another seascape entirely.

8.  Blue
The colour title suggests this is a watercolour although JW describes it as a drawing. It may be Blue and brown - Westgate, the Moors (M.894), which was shown in Dowdeswell's in 1886. However, that is not 'large'.

9.  drawings
JW exhibited some pencil drawings in Dowdeswell's in 1886 (Baby's head (M.1063), Child (M.1064), Causerie (M.1066), r.: Tête d'homme barbu; v.: Head of a woman (M.1098), Tête d'homme barbu (M.1099)) and two in New York in 1889 (Woman and child (M.1065), Resting (M.1102)). No pencil drawings are known to have been sold at this time. Since JW only mentions two drawings, it is possible that it is the latter two drawings that are the relevant ones, but this does not mean that the list relates to the New York show.

10.  Dowdeswells
Messrs Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell, art dealers and print publishers. They moved from 113 to 160 New Bond Street between March and July 1887. However, they also had premises at 133 New Bond Street between 1878-1889.

11.  Second Series
A Set of twenty-six etchings of Venice, 1886 (the second 'Venice set') (K.196-216, 233-237). (excat 6). The printing of the set took place between July 1886 and July 1887 (see #00862, #08717).

12.  first series
Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice, 1880 (the first 'Venice Set') (K. 183-189, 191-195). (excat 5).

13.  Thames
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).

14.  Mr Stevenson
Possibly Robert Macaulay Stevenson (1860-1952), painter and art critic [more]. It may be that Melville and Stevenson were involved in arrangements for the International Exhibition, Kelvingrove, Glasgow, 1888; however, none of these paintings were eventually exhibited there (Venice (M.825) and Convalescent or Petit Déjeuner; note in opal (M.903) were the only works in the Glasgow catalogue). However, they may have been involved in arranging some other exhibition not so far identified.

15.  Miss Martin
Mary Bacon Ford, née Martin, art agent [more].

16.  Society of British Artists
JW was elected President of the SBA on 1 June 1886 and took office in December. He was forced to resign on 4 June 1888 but retained the post until November. This reference may be about 64th Annual Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887 (the Society became the Royal Society of British Artists in the autumn of 1887).