The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 99th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1867
Record 8 of 12

System Number: 06680
Date: 7 and 19 June 1867
Author: George William Whistler[1]
Place: St Petersburg[2]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W674
Document Type: ALS

St. Petersburg

June 7/19 1867.

James A. Whistler Eq.

My dear Jim -

Yesterday I telegramed[3] you - "My impression is that you should not promise your friends to resign[4] after they have established your good name - & they should not ask it - Resignation would be an admission of your [being] wrong - better decline friends support if they are unwilling to see you remain. You are a member equal with Haden[5], better be expelled than consent to resign if right - if wrong decline friends aid & resign."

This I sent you in consequence of what Mother wrote[6] me that your friends of the Burlington Club[7] would establish you in the [p. 2] "good opinion of good men" when you would withdraw from the Club - It may be your friends have not asked, or expected this of you - so much the better - for under no circumstance would I withdraw - I say no circumstance, of course I cant know all of this matter, but what I know impresses me as I telegramed you - I am very sorry to hear of Willies ill health[8], but do hope it is of a temporary nature, & that soon he will be able to occupy himself with his profession - we all send much love to him. The papers this season are very discriminating in their praise & blame but all in one direction - I thought the Sat: Rev.[9] a very fair statement of your art.

Let me hear from you of the Club business & Willie. I am quite well -

from your affect Brother

G. W. Whistler -

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1.  George William Whistler
George William Whistler (1822-1869), engineer, JW's half-brother [more].

2.  St Petersburg
G. Wm. Whistler worked for the engineering firm of Harrison, Winans and Eastwick in St Petersburg from 1856 to 1869.

3.  telegramed

4.  resign
JW had recently received a request for his resignation from the Burlington Fine Arts Club on the threat of expulsion (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). It related to his quarrel with F. S. Haden in April 1867 over Haden's treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Traer died on a trip to Paris, allegedly in a brothel, and Haden arranged for his burial with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. On 26 April a furious row blew up between the brothers-in-law in a Paris café and Haden fell (or allegedly was pushed by JW) through a plate glass window. Both JW and Haden were members of the Burlington Club and in the aftermath of the Traer affair Haden campaigned for JW to be excluded from the club, having brought to its attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (JW to L. Huth, #02240).

5.  Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

6.  Mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more]. Letter untraced.

7.  Burlington Club
The Burlington Fine Arts Club, founded early in 1866. It was located at 177, Piccadilly. JW was proposed as a member on 22 February 1867 (see William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more], and the Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more], proposers, #11957).

8.  Willies ill health
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more]. He was suffering from neuralgia and facial paralysis and was ill for some three weeks (see W. G. Whistler to G. A. Lucas, #11980).

9.  Sat. Rev
A reference to the Saturday Review, a review of science, literature and the arts. George Whistler had probably seen a review by Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894), author, critic and artist [more], of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in which JW showed three works including Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz (YMSM 41) and Symphony in White, No. 3 (YMSM 61). The review is double-edged in tone: 'Mr Whistler is anything but a robust and balanced genius. No mental force was ever more curiously irregular and capricious in its application than his, but the gifts that he has are truly artistic gifts ... in the "Symphony in White, No. III" there are many dainty varieties of tint, but it is not precisely a symphony in white.' See Anon., 'Pictures of the Year: IX,' The Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, vol. 23, no. 605, 1 June 1867, pp. 690-91.