UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: National Portrait Gallery
Record 1 of 4

System Number: 10918
Date: 10 October [1884][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Henry Graves[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Call Number: f MS A 1412
Credit Line: Published by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University
Document Type: ALS


Dear Mr Graves -

In reply to your request I have to say that I am quite willing that my portrait of Carlyle[3] should remain a while longer in Edinburgh[4] - but will you kindly say to your Correspondent that I am weary of the discussion and the possible distinctions between what is supposed to be serious and what is known to be excentric[5] [sic] in my productions - That whereas at first the picture might have been secured for four hundred, I have now made up my mind that it's real worth shall be asserted by it's price - since in no other way can it be understood. -

[p. 2] The Carlyle shall no longer be a cheap and easy acquisition - I now ask for it one thousand guineas. -

However I think it right that the gentlemen in Scotland should know that they have the best authority for not purchasing this 'excentric' [sic] canvas, - for when it was offered to the National Portrait Gallery here, Mr Scharfe[6] the Director and expert appointed to judge and buy, refused to entertain the proposal for [a] moment, and laughed outright at the idea that work such as this should pass for painting at all -

It is true that at that time the picture had not been exhibited in Paris and hung in a place of honor in the Salon[7] - so that he might well say that he had not had a chance of knowing -

Faithfully Yours

J. McNeill Whistler

13 Tite Street -

Oct 10 -


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

1.  10 October [1884]
A draft version of this letter is #01812. Algernon Graves' reply to this letter is dated 11 October 1884 (#01813).

2.  Henry Graves
Henry Graves (1806-1892), print dealer and founder of H. Graves and Co. [more].

3.  portrait of Carlyle
This is part a sequence of letters relating to Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137), which had been on exhibition in Loan Exhibition, Scottish National Portraits, Board of Manufactures, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1884. It was finally bought by the City of Glasgow in 1891 for 1000 guineas.

4.  Edinburgh
Loan Exhibition, Scottish National Portraits, Board of Manufactures, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1884.

5.  excentric
George Roland Halkett (1855-1918), artist, critic and political cartoonist, in his letter to The Scotsman on 3 October 1884 referred to 'Whistler's unconventional methods and personal eccentricities' (#11748).

6.  Mr. Scharfe
Sir George Scharf (1820-1895), archaeological painter and Director of the National Portrait Gallery [more].

7.  Salon
102nd exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1884.