The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867
Record 15 of 31

System Number: 02654
Date: 14 June 1867
Author: George Aloysius Lucas[1]
Place: Paris
Recipient: William McNeill Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L188
Document Type: ALS


14th June 1867

My dear Doctor

I am in receipt to day of your letter[3] of the 12th & at your request have had an interview with Mr Smith[4] 30 fg St Honoré, on the subject[5] contained therein - He informs me that there will be no difficulty at all in the matter of removing the body; what will be necessary, in the absence of the regular papers which must have been given some one at the time of the funeral, will be a written request from some member of the family (say Mother or Sister) to the "Prefet de la Seine", desiring the removal & authorizing day Mr Smith or other to attend to the matter. This application [p. 2] request & authority if forwarded by mail to Paris from London, should & must be written on a sheet of paper & so folded that it will bear on the outside the stamps & post marks from place where sent. I mean that it should not be enclosed in an envelope but that the sheet itself should have upon it the post stamps & marks - This being an evidence & authority which is consider[ed] in the matter. The papers relative to the burial must be in the possession of some one, & if they can be found will facilitate the affair, but Mr Smith does not consider them absolutely necessary. Moreover business brings Mr Smith to London where he expects to arrive Monday night or Tuesday morning next & will call on you [p. 3] or your brother, & for which purpose I have given him James' address - In this way you can receive from him in person all the information possible. To day I have not been able to call at No. 10 Rue Alibert[6] for the information you desire. If I can do so to morrow before mailing this I will add a postscript on the subject. Trusting that the information that I am able to give you is satisfactory

I am most truly yours &c

G A Lucas.

J Whistler
2 Lindsey Row

P. S. No. 10 Rue Alibert
"Service des Pompes Funebres[7]"
I enclose you the note given [p. 4] me here at the office of the court which they will undertake the removal of the body from Paris to London
viz 1075 francs
if a leaden coffin will have to be furnished the cost will be 305 fr addition that is for the whole
1380 fr -
This includes all expenses

G. A. L

This office says that no formality will be necessary further than giving day & date of burial & the No. which you have; that they will take charge of all the necessary formalities &c necessary in such cases -

[p. 5] transport - Londres 1,000
caisse en Sapin[8]      50
Demarches pour autorisation[9]      25
Cercueil[10] s'il y a lieu pour en plus 305.  


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1.  George Aloysius Lucas
George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), art dealer in Paris [more].

2.  William McNeill Whistler
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

3.  letter
See #09562.

4.  Mr Smith
George Smith, undertaker.

5.  subject
In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], over Haden's treatment of his late junior medical partner James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Haden, Traer and William Whistler were visiting Paris for a medical conference. JW was also in town, as his works were on view in the American section of the Paris Exposition. During the trip, Traer died suddenly, allegedly in a brothel. Haden hastily arranged burial rites in Paris in what JW and William regarded as a disrespectful manner. A violent quarrel ensued between Haden, William and JW. Soon afterwards, the two brothers made fresh arrangements to have Traer's body returned to Ellen Traer (b. ca 1837), J. R. Traer's sister [more] in England. George Smith seems to have arranged for the exhumation and shipment of the body.

6.  No. 10 Rue Alibert
The address of the undertaker.

7.  Service des Pompes Funebres
Fr., Funeral Directors.

8.  caisse en Sapin
Fr., pine box

9.  Demarches pour autorisation
Fr., the authorisation procedure (presumably an official authorisation fee to enable Traer's exhumation to proceed).

10.  Cercueil
Fr., coffin.