The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867
Record 7 of 31

System Number: 09192
Date: [6 April 1867][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: George Aloysius Lucas[2]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Baltimore Museum of Art, MD
Call Number: 11 folder, W-Lucas file
Document Type: ALS[3]

2 Lindsey Row

Dear Lucas -

For Gods sake what is all this about my pictures[4] in the entry! - Do see that scoundrel[5] and if they are not to be changed, make at least a scene - tell him from me what a d—d fool he is - and do let me know where are my etchings[6] - Have the pictures all taken away if you can - I won't have them hung where they are - How did it come [p. 2] about! was it the Kensington influence[7]? Or how did the Yankee manage to swindle me in this way - Do like a good fellow let me know at once - Could not you see Beckwith[8] and represent to him something of this - and at any rate say that they have in this way actually thrown away their only chance of having an artist among them - Do say this anyhow - Telegraph about the etchings

[p. 3] I don't know what to say about the varnishing - Perhaps it were better to make a formal demand from Beckwith on my behalf for the withdrawal[9] of my pictures all together -

A bientot

J[—] Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.



Monsieur George Lucas
41. Rue de l'Arc de Triomphe
[stamp, illegible]
[postmark x 2:] LONDON. S. W / 2 / AP 6 / 67
[french postmark on verso, illegible]


1.  [6 April 1867]
Dated from postmark and Randall, Lillian, ed., George A. Lucas: An American Art Agent in Paris, 1857-1909, Princeton, 1979, p. 238, diary entry, 7 April: 'Rec'd letter from Whistler.' G. A. Lucas replied on 8 April (letter untraced), see op. cit., p. 238, diary entry, 8 April.

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

3.  ALS
This letter was published in Mahey, John A., 'The Letters of James McNeill Whistler to George A. Lucas,' Art Bulletin, XLIX, September 1967, pp. 247-57, Letter VII.

4.  pictures
JW had sent four paintings to the Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867, including Crepuscule in Flesh Colour and Green: Valparaiso (YMSM 73). It opened on 1 April.

5.  scoundrel
Probably a reference to Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), print-publisher, collector and philanthropist [more]. Avery was Art Commissioner for the United States Section at the Exposition. According to William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more], JW told him that he had not been invited to exhibit in the British section of the Paris Exhibition. See W. M. Rossetti, quoted in Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 1, p. 140, diary entry, 29 March: 'He says that he never from first to last received any invitation to contribute to the British section of the Paris Exhibition. This might seem invidious, but the result is that he gets in the American section much more space than could have been allotted him in the British.' Despite JW's disquiet, the works were ill-displayed in what he later complained was a 'corridor where they have been more or less damned by every body' (see JW to G. A. Lucas, 20 November 1867, #09194).

6.  etchings
JW had successfully submitted several etchings to the Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867 which are likely to have included Thames etchings such as The Little Pool (K.74) and Old Hungerford Bridge (K.76).

7.  Kensington influence
JW may have been making a veiled reference to the London art establishment of Academicians and conservative critics. However, he may also have been referring to Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], who was then honorary surgeon to the South Kensington Museum. In addition, Haden was a member of the British Jury for the Exposition (see Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 1, pp. 141, 143). Relations between JW and his brother-in-law were strained to the point of collapse. Later in the month, on 23 April, JW would accuse him of disrespect towards his late partner, Dr Traer, and would knock him through a plate-glass window in Paris. They never spoke again.

8.  Beckwith
Nelson Marvin Beckwith (d. 1889?), U. S. consul general, Paris, and Commissioner for the 1867 Paris Exhibition [more].

9.  withdrawal
JW's works remained in the exhibition although he was bitterly disappointed with the way they had been hung (see note above and #09194).

10.  'Whistler'
Written in pen in Lucas's hand in right margin of envelope.