The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 3rd Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia,Venice 1899
Record 7 of 32

System Number: 00728
Date: [9] January 1899[1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: John James Cowan[2]
Place: [Murrayfield]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C229
Document Type: ALS[3]

110. Rue du Bac -

Jan 1899

My dear Cowan -

I have just read your nice letter[4] - and I am greatly vexed with the Goupils[5] for the unconscionable time they have been with those pictures.

I sent them over - I was going to say months ago! - In any case you ought to [p. 2] have had them long before this -

However, I [am] glad they turned up at the moment of festivity - and especially am I pleased to know that you like them -

So far - and then something happened! and this, which should have gone that same evening, was dropped for the moment - and here it is still!! - My dear Cowan I am delighted that you like the picture[6], and when the head is varnished - (not yet though) - you will see the colour in its full richness - and like it all the more.

It would have been well if you could have let the Piano[7] go to Russia, for they are very devoted to me there it appears - but of course if you have promised it elsewhere, why nothing can be done -

Now though I want you very much to let the Venice people have it when they ask you for their next Exhibition[8] - as they are most appreciative - and have written me a letter which I will show you one of these days! -

When do I see you? March? do you say! I have scraped by the influenza so far this time pretty well - and am rejoicing in the warm weather though they do say it is unseasonable - But I wish enough [p. 3] I could go down to Italy[9] with you! -

"The Baronet and the Butterfly"[10] will be out in a few days - where shall I send your copy? - Did you see the letter to Heinemann[11]? - And the one about the Académie Carmen? -

As to the two pictures[12], we said 400 for the Nocturne and 500 for the head, didn't we? - So if you like to send me 300, we will be quite squared[13] until you get the Gentleman in Grey[14] - who will I am sure come to you all the sooner and fresher when relieved of the premature check - which somehow or other has always been unlucky! - It will all come right though my dear Cowan and everything will be charming[15] - for I am beginning to know a little more about painting, and when you have your picture you will have gained by it, and the time will be as nothing!

With best wishes[16] to all,
Always affectionately

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  John James Cowan
John James Cowan (1846-1936), paper manufacturer and collector [more].

2.  [9] January 1899
This is a reply to Cowan's letter of 8 January 1899, #00727.

3.  ALS
Written on deep-bordered mourning paper.

4.  letter

5.  Goupils
David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more].

6.  picture
Arrangement in Grey and Green: Portrait of J. J. Cowan (YMSM 402).

7.  Piano
At the Piano (YMSM 24) was then owned by Cowan who had been asked to send the picture to St Petersburg (see #00727).

8.  next Exhibition
The 3rd Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte della Città di Venezia,Venice, 1899, took place from 22 April to 31 October.

9.  Italy
The Cowans were off to Rome (see #00727). JW's yearning to travel to Italy became a reality when he went to Porto d'Anzio for the wedding of William Heinemann and Magda Sindici in March 1899.

10.  The Baronet and the Butterfly'
A reference to JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more] over Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), a portrait of Eden's wife. JW's account of the affair was about to be published in Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24].

11.  Heinemann
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more].

12.  pictures
The Nocturne was Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Chelsea Snow (YMSM 174) and the 'head', Brown and Gold: Lillie 'In our Alley!' (YMSM 464).

13.  quite squared
See JW's receipt to Cowan for the pictures, #00729.

14.  Gentleman in Grey
That is, Arrangement in Grey and Green: Portrait of J. J. Cowan (YMSM 402); JW started work on the portrait in May 1893 but never finished it although Cowan gave JW some sixty sittings between 1893 and 1900.

15.  and everything will be charming ... nothing!
Written in the left-hand margin on p. 1, at right angles to the main text.

16.  With best wishes ... [butterfly signature]
Written in the left-hand margin on p. 2, at right angles to the main text.