The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 104th exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1886
Record 2 of 13

System Number: 09235
Date: [14/31 December 1885][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Octave Maus[2]
Place: [Brussels]
Repository: Archives de l'Art Contemporain en Belgique, Musées royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Bruxelles
Call Number: Fonds Vander Linden, archives Octave Maus, 4760
Document Type: ALS[3]

My dear Mr Maus -

Long ago I had meant to write and tell you how charmed I was with your two brilliant articles[4] - Never had any work of mine been so sympathetically and daintily dwelt upon - and I was enchanted with the light and masterly sharpness of your pen! -

Nothing could be more elegant than your description of the Peacock Room - also I had the [p. 2] further satisfaction of believing, as I read, that I had thoroughly pleased you! - As to Leyland[5] and his part in the business, that was simply too prettily told for me not [to] take intense delight in it! -

Also the Ruskin[6] affair! - Bravo! - how well said! - and how shocking of me not to have written to you long ago, acknowledging all these charming things! -

I have seen Mr Finch[7] who tells me that he returns to Brussels almost directly - He takes with him many messages to yourself and to Dario[8] for whom also I have proved the most wretched of correspondants [sic] - He promises to make my peace with you both - may he not have vainly boasted! -

You know that I am going to send you the Sarasate[9] - and you will undertake to send it on to the Salon in plenty of time of for its proper reception there -

Meanwhile I am off to America where however I shall not stay more than two or three months, so that I may be [p. 3] back in time for the season in my beloved London - (I am certainly the most determined cockney possible) and I hope to see [you] here again during the summer -

Adieu my dear Mr Maus
With many best wishes to yourself for the New Year
Always sincerely[10]

[butterfly signature]

454. Fulham Road -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [14/31 December 1885]
Dated from recipient and reference to New Year.

2.  Octave Maus
Octave Maus (1856-1919), advocate, writer and art critic [more]. This letter must not be published in any form without the prior written consent of the owner.

3.  ALS
Published in Trente années de lutte pour l'art: Les XX la libre esthetique 1884-1914, Bruxelles, 1980, p. 48.

4.  articles
The articles included Anon., [Maus, Octave], 'James M.Neill Whistler,' L'Art Moderne, no. 37, 13 September 1885, pp. 294-96.

5.  Leyland
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more]. Leyland gave JW the initial commission to decorate the dining room of his home at 49, Prince's Gate in 1876. Leyland allowed JW to make some modest alterations to the leather wall-hangings, the backdrop for his collection of blue and white porcelain. Eventually, JW's alterations overtook Jeckyll's original design and the room was reborn as the decorative scheme Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178). However, JW quarrelled with Leyland over the cost of the scheme. He only received half the 2000 guineas that he had expected although he had spent the best part of a year on the work. This had a catastrophic effect on his finances. Leyland, as a chief creditor, later became a trustee of JW's bankrupt estate; JW owed him £630 (#08886). Maus's article for L'Art Moderne praised the Peacock Room scheme with enthusiasm.

6.  Ruskin
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more]. JW's libel suit against him took place at Queen's Bench of the High Court on 25-26 November 1878. Despite winning the case, he was awarded only a desultory farthing's damages and the affair bankrupted him.

7.  Mr Finch
Probably Alfred William Finch (1854-1930), painter and etcher [more].

8.  Dario
Probably Dario de Regoyos y Valdes (1857-1913), painter [more].

9.  Sarasate
Arrangement in Black: Portrait of Señor Pablo de Sarasate (YMSM 315), JW's portrait of Pablo de Sarasate y Navascues (1844-1908), violinist [more]. It was exhibited as Portrait at the 104th exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1886 (cat. no. 2450).

10.  Always sincerely ... [butterfly signature]
A box has been drawn round this portion of text.