The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 3rd Internationale Kunst-Ausstellung, Munich, 1888
Record 20 of 53

System Number: 09668
Date: 25 April 1888
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Henry Studdy Theobald[1]
Place: London
Repository: British Museum, London
Call Number: Department of Prints and Drawings, Alexander volume 59-11-14-6
Document Type: ALS[2]

The Tower House
Tite Street

25 April 88

Dear Mr. Theobald, -

It cannot be that you really mean to withold [sic] pictures of mine from the recognition that the occasion of exhibition offers them, for the mere accidental reason that you happen to possess them.

Surely dear Mr. Theobald this view is absolutely unworthy the keen sense of things that you showed in buying them.

You were on the former occasion[3] charming to me, immediately lending the pictures, but this is the privilege of the man, who, like yourself acquires a work of art and knows that he has the care of what really belongs to the world and to posterity.

Dont you see, dear Mr. Theobald that when a picture is purchased by the Louvre or the National Gallery, all can come and see it on the walls, but when a painting is bought by a private gentleman, it is, so to speak, withdrawn from circulation, and for public fame is missing from the story of the painter's reputation.

Your role herein, as the "patron," certainly is that of the man who, owning some of the works of the Master, takes every occasion of spreading his fame by showing them, and is pleased and proud to do so - thereby achieving also for himself, the esteem and affection of history.

Do let me send these lovely things to Munich[4]. I dont believe that they will be absent much more than a month or two, (they will be insured until returned to you) - and next year when the great International Exhibition[5] takes place, do not the cruelty to me, and to yourself the injustice of proposing to hold back these dainty pictures that should take their part before my confrères in the chapter of my work.

After all you have these beautiful things always with you - like the poor! - and seldom indeed shall I trouble you for their loan!

With many thanks,
Dear Mr. Theobald,
Very faithfully yours,

J. McNeill Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


Mr Theobald,
3 Westbourne Square
[postmark:] PADDINGTON / AP 26 / 87


1.  Henry Studdy Theobald
Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934), barrister and collector [more].

2.  ALS
Published in Thorp, Nigel (Editor), Whistler on Art: Selected Letters and Writings 1849-1903 of James McNeill Whistler, Manchester, 1994, and Washington, 1995, no. 40, pp. 111-12.

3.   former occasion
Probably the Exposition Internationale de Peinture et de Sculpture, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1887 to which JW sent a large selection of oils, watercolours and pastels, including Theobald's Red and Pink: La Petite Mephisto (YMSM 255). Theobald owned at least twenty-two works by JW.

4.  Munich
For the 3rd Internationale Kunst-Austellung, Munich, 1888 which opened in July. It is unclear from the exhibition catalogue whether Theobald lent any works since JW often changed the titles. Although Theobald owned a substantial collection of oils and works on paper by JW - The Beggars - Winter (M.727), The Staircase; note in red (M.782), Erith - Evening (M.884) and Opal Beach (M.886) are just a few of them - the catalogue does not acknowledge his collection.

5.  great International Exhibition
4th Internationale Kunst-Austellung, Munich, 1889.