The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 9th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1875
Record 11 of 14

System Number: 08786
Date: 22 November [1878][1]
Author: William Michael Rossetti[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: James Anderson Rose[3]
Place: London
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 4/65
Document Type: ALS


Somerset House.

22 Nov.

Dear Rose,

I was rather dismayed at receiving this afternoon a subpoena to bear witness in Whistler's case[5]. The fact is, Ruskin is an old & valued friend of mine (little tho' I have seen of him of late years): &, tho' I don't either agree in his ill-opinion of Wh[istler]'s pictures or approve the [p. 2] phrases he uses, still I sh[oul]d be very sorry to take a personal part in getting him mulcted[6] in damages. If it were yet possible to let me off I shd be sincerely obliged to you for managing this: if I don't hear from you however, I shall of course attend, & give my sincerely felt witness to the excellences of that picture[7].

Yours always truly,

W. M. Rossetti.

[p. 2] 'Rossetti[8] 22 Novr 1878'

This document is protected by copyright.


J. A. Rose Esq
11 Salisbury St.
W. C.
[postmark:] LONDON. W. C. / [6?] / NO 22 / 78 / S.M.P.


1.  22 November [1878]
Year date from postmark.

2.  William Michael Rossetti
William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more].

3.  James Anderson Rose
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more].

4.  63
Written in another hand in upper left-hand corner of sheet. This may have been one of the numbers assigned by Rose to legal documents from the Whistler v Ruskin trial.

5.  Whistler's case
This relates to preparations for Whistler v Ruskin, JW's libel suit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more]. The suit was in response to Ruskin's criticism of JW's works, especially Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170), in his periodical Fors Clavigera. On 2 July 1877, he accused JW of 'flinging a pot of paint in the public's face' in a review of the I Summer Exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery, London. See Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213. JW needed witnesses whose evidence might prove his position as an established artist. Rossetti had known JW's work since 1862 and was a sympathetic critic, notably so in his review of 9th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1875 in which he praised Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170).

6.  mulcted
To receive a fine or penalty.

7.  picture
Probably a reference to Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Westminster Bridge (YMSM 145), which JW also exhibited at the Grosvenor under the title Nocturne in Blue and Gold.

8.  'Rossetti ... 1878'
Note at right-angles on reverse of sheet, possibly in Rose's hand.