The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

return to search results

Documents associated with: 7th [Exhibition], Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1897
Record 1 of 3

System Number: 04703
Date: [10 February 1897][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: Paris
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P343
Document Type: ALS[3]

My dear Major -

You mustn't think any thing of my not writing - I always mean to - but I am really working like only a man mad to get out of the place could dream of doing - However I am not quite so miserable as I was - Indeed perhaps I may now confide to you that I have a perfect little [p. 2] treasure in the studio! - I proposed to Miss Maude[4] that she should [illegible] try for a servant like my new one, at the same Agents -

Well then this time mine is a little Belgian bonne! - Her husband is employed at the Café Royal - not as garçon - but as one of the wine men, attending also the [fires?] etc - "Marie[5]" is really delightful - and I think Major that even you would like her -

I certainly wish for your comfort that you had her yourself - Meantime in the studio she is far better than any man possibly could be - And the cooking goes on again all right - to say nothing of a continued cleaning!!, and busying about that is perfectly wonderful!

I dont think I can write any more now - but soon will - Do let me know that you have got a servant and that the discomfort of casual charwomen has ceased! -

What about money? - You know Major you must not wait always for me to think of asking -

Are you seeing about taxes etc? and have you paid the Champ de Mars[6] [p. 3] subscription - you know - two years, didn't they say? - That must not be neglected -

I had a letter from Dicker[7] this morning last night to say that Trixies[8] garnet case is ready for me to go and look at! -

Kindest messages my dear Major to both of you - and, by the way, do whatever you like about Louise[9] - you always come out right! - So dont trouble or worry yourself - Say if you like that I haven't yet sent the certificate - but that I probably will out of kindness to herself - though I consider that Constant[10] quite lost all my confidence by his want of respect to his masters in their absence[11] - Allowing that woman[12] to come into their house, and so betraying his trust - Say that we have requested the Procureur to stay proceedings out of pity for Constant's future - but we do not as [yet] know whether the Procureur will agree. -

You might, as an excuse for writing, ask Louise where Constant has put my other White coat in the studio? I had two - and now can only find one -

Goodnight Major!


the General.

This document is protected by copyright.


'FEB 10. 1897'

Mademoiselle Birnie-Philip
aux soins de
Monsieur McNeill Whistler
110. Rue du Bac.
[stamp:] POSTAGE & REVENUE / 2½d
[postmark:] LONDON [W. C.?] / 1. AM / FE 10 / 97
[postmark:] CALAIS A PARIS [22?] / D / [...] / 97


1.  [10 February 1897]
Dated from the postmark.

2.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. JW called her 'Major' and himself 'General'.

3.  ALS
The stationery has deep mourning borders.

4.  Miss Maude
Philippa Maude Philip (1865-1915), JW's sister-in-law [more].

5.  Marie
Marie, a Belgian servant hired by JW in London.

6.  Champ de Mars
The annual salon of the Société Nationale des Artistes Français.

7.  Dicker
Robert Dicker (ca 1827-1900), silversmith [more].

8.  Trixies
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. Her garnet jewellery is now in the Hunterian Art Gallery. See MacDonald, Margaret F. et al, Whistler, Women and Fashion, New Haven and London, 2003, p. 185, necklace repr.

9.  Louise
Louise, JW's servant at 110 rue du Bac [more].

10.  Constant
T. C. J. Constant, JW's servant and valet [more].

11.  in their absence
'in their absence ... will agree' was written in the left margin, and 'You might ... General' in the left margin of p. 1, both at right angles to the main text.

12.  woman
Nancie, possibly the servant of Ethel Whibley or JW.