The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 1st Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1877
Record 114 of 119

System Number: 00218
Date: 2 January [1879][1]
Author: Samuel Putnam Avery[2]
Place: New York
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler A218
Document Type: ALS

S. P. AVERY [cartouche][3] ART ROOMS

Jany 2nd - 1878 [sic]

Dear Mr Whistler.

I have been saving up the enclosed few slips (of the many) which have appeared upon your "case"[4] which has created an unusual stir even here, and although I cannot say that I could sell a 'nocturne' or so at 200 gs. still one or more of your pictures put on exhibition here would draw quite a number of shillings, I notice that when I put some of your etchings at the clubs, more than the usual number of heads gather around them, and I have had two applications (Boston & Phila) to loan your portrait[5] with the hat, while no one has asked for Ruskins[6] hat, or even his head!

I judge that you have not done with J. R. and I would like to be kept advised [p. 2] of what next. On reading the evidence, a lawyer made the remark that if your lawyer had been as smart as his client a better case could have been made. What larks it must have been to you - how I would liked to have been in court and seen and heard Frith[7] & co expand

I hope that the new year finds you quite settled in the 'White House'[8], where you will be elected to serve many terms in peace and prosperity is the wish of

Yours ever faithfully

Sam P. Avery.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  2 January [1879]
Avery wrote '1878' by mistake; this letter dates from after the Whistler v. Ruskin trial held on 25-26 November 1878.

2.  Samuel Putnam Avery
Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), print-publisher, collector and philanthropist [more].

3.  [cartouche]
Engraved circular cartouche showing a classical head in profile, wearing a garlanded helmet.

4.  case
Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170) was was exhibited at I Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1877, for sale at 200 gns. It was the focus of John Ruskin's famous attack on JW. The resulting libel suit was heard on 25-26 November 1878. JW won and was awarded one farthing in damages.

5.  your portrait with the hat
Portrait of Whistler (K.54).

6.  Ruskins
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more]. Also referred to as 'J. R.'

7.  Frith
William Powell Frith (1819-1909), genre and landscape painter [more]. He appeared as a witness for the defence at the Whistler v. Ruskin trial.

8.  'White House'
JW's new studio house in Tite Street, Chelsea.