The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Winter Exhibition, Society of British Artists, London, 1885-1886
Record 10 of 14

System Number: 08600
Date: [1/8 February 1886][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Charles William Dowdeswell[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Rare Books and Manuscripts Division
Document Type: ALS

Dear Mr Dowdeswell -

I have managed to find the whole twenty six proofs[3] -

Some of them are not by any means the finest impressions of the plates - indeed in one or two cases they do not quite represent the plates in their completed condition - notably - in the plate No. 24 where the figure had not yet been introduced -

also No. 5 is an impression before the figure outside the door was finished -

These twenty six plates, in their full freshness, I will sell as I told you - for the sum of Six hundred pounds - (£600.)


[p. 2] You were so kind as to undertake to manage this business for me, and you don't know how very much obliged I am to you in the midst of of [sic] all my very busy preparations for America[4], for saving me such trouble -

With a thousand thanks -
Yours sincerely

J McN. Whistler.

[butterfly signature]

I enclose herewith order for my pictures from the Suffolk Street[5] - Do send for them - at once -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [1/8 February 1886]
This is part of a sequence of correspondence relating to JW's etchings (see below), and appears to predate the letter from C. W. Dowdeswell to JW on 16 February 1886, #00859.

2.  Charles William Dowdeswell
Charles William Dowdeswell (1832-1915), art dealer [more].

3.  twenty six proofs
A Set of twenty-six etchings of Venice, 1886 (the second 'Venice set') (K.196-216, 233-237). (excat 6) was issued by Dowdeswell's in April 1886. The first proofs were delivered on 2 April 1886 (see receipt, #00863). See also correspondence between JW and C. W. Dowdeswell, #08609, #11255, #00859, #08610, #08680, #09241, #08626, #08681, #08678, #08675. It is not possible to identify plate nos 5 and 24 since JW worked with Dowdeswell's from a number of different lists, for example, see #00862.

4.  America
In February 1885, in the aftermath of JW's first delivery of the 'Ten O'Clock Lecture,' his aesthetic manifesto, the idea of a lecture tour to America seems to have arisen. For a lengthy period between 1885 and 1886, JW was intent on making the trip (see references in correspondence including JW to W. Merritt Chase, #00593; H. Wunderlich to JW, #07153; JW to O. Maus, #09235). Helen Lenoir (1852-1913), née Coupar Black, actress and stage manager [more], who managed the 'Ten O'Clock', wrote that she expected JW to take his lecture to America in 'about September' 1886 (see H. Lenoir to R. D'Oyly Carte, #00927). However, JW never actually made it across the Atlantic Ocean. Factors may have been his increasing involvement with the Society of British Artists (he was elected President on 1 June 1886) and intensifying rivalry with Oscar Wilde who had preceded him with a lecture tour of America and Canada in 1882. Exhibition commitments seem also to have been a factor (H. Lenoir to JW, #00928).

5.  Suffolk Street
The galleries of the Society of British Artists. JW had exhibited nine works at the Winter Exhibition, Society of British Artists, London, 1885-1886, which opened in November 1885. They included Arrangement in Black, No. 8: Portrait of Mrs Cassatt (YMSM 250) (cat. no. 362).