The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Gueneaude de Mussy, Henri F.
Record 3 of 5

System Number: 12972
Date: [c. 12 December 1867][1]
Author: Rodolph Nicholson Wornum[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: Committee of the Burlington Fine Arts Club[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: Victoria & Albert Museum, National Art Library, London
Call Number: PC12/6 MSL/1952/1353/3/1/1-22
Document Type: MsDc[4]

On the 11th of June 1867, in consequence of a statement laid before the Committee of the Burlington Fine Arts Club by Mr F Seymour Haden[5], to the effect that he had been assaulted in a public Restaurant in Paris by Mr. J. A. Whistler, a recently elected Member of the Club, and that the assault in question was one of several which it was notorious Mr Whistler had committed on other persons within a very short space of time, the Committee communicated to Mr Whistler their unanimous opinion that it was inexpiepedient that he should remain a member of the Club, and called upon him if he would avoid expulsion to resign his membership

The assault complained of, being stated [p. 2] by Mr Haden to be one of [illegible] several which were notorious, and of one or two of which he undertook to furnish immediate proof, the Committee did not think it necessary or desirable in the interests of the Club to call upon Mr Whistler for any detailed explanation of his conduct - The habit of[6] assaulting people appearing to the Committee to disqualify him for membership, they simply called on him to resign, and it is with infinite regret that they have now to state that he has not only not thought proper to do so, but that he has conveyed his refusal in terms so unnecessarily offensive as to leave the Committee no other choice than to bring the matter before the Club -

I am desired to state that the Committee do not ask or expect the Club to go into the private affairs of Mr J. A. Whistler with these [p. 3] or with his private character they have nothing whatever to do - For the same reason they will decline to follow Mr Whistler into any statements intended to reflect upon the private character of Mr Haden. They merely call upon the meeting to take cognizance of the allegation made to them by one of the members, that he has been publicly assaulted by Mr Whistler, and, that within a comparatively short time, Mr Whistler has publicly assaulted at least five other persons, for three of which assaults he has been under arrest - and to hear Mr Whistler if he is in a position to deny that allegation, and to justify not one, but all of these assaults - and if he is not in such a position then they ask the Meeting to ratify the [p. 4] action taken by the Committee respecting Mr Whistler, and to authorize me to remove his name from the roll of members. ~

The assaults relied upon by the Committee as having been committed by Mr Whistler are as follows -

1 An assault last winter in the streets of Paris on a person in charge of a building in course of erection which was summarily punished by the Correctional Police , and which therefore requires no further proof

2 An assault upon a passenger on board the Ship Shannon on her voyage from St Thomas to Southampton in Oct of last year, which was punished [p. 5] by arrest, and which therefore requires no further proof

3 An assault on Capt B A Wake[7] RN the Naval Officer in charge of her Majesty's mails on board the same ship, which is proved by a letter from Capt Wake.

4 An assault upon Capt H. H. Doty[8] a Naval officer in the Chilian [sic] Service, upon the Platform of the Waterloo Station in Octr of last year, which is proved by a letter from Captain Doty -

5 An assault upon Mr Legros[9] an artist practising in London, in the spring of the present year, which is proved by a letter from Mr Legros.

6. An assault upon Mr Haden, a member of this Club, on the 26th of April [p. 6] last, at Paris for which Mr Whistler was arrested and taken before the Magistrate and only liberated at the instance of Mr Haden -

The Letters and papers having reference to these assaults are as follows

1 A statement by Mr Haden

2 A letter from Mr Legros and a letter from Dr Geneau [sic] de Mussy[10]

3 A letter from Capt Wake R N

4 A letter from Capt H. H. Doty

5 A series of letters from the Committee to Mr Whistler, and from Mr Whistler to the Committee, inclusive of two from Messrs Boxall[11] & Louis Huth[12], the proposer & seconder of Mr Whistler

[p. 7] (Two other letters from Capt Doty making charges of a very painful nature against Mr Whistler, the Committee do not (unless Mr Whistler especially desires it) propose to have read)

Hon Secry[13] reads letters


[pp. 8-9][14]

[p. 10] A Letter from Mr Haden to Mr Legros[15]

[p. 11-13] Letter from Mr Legros to Mr Haden[16]

[p. 14] Letter from Dr Gueneau de Mussy to Mr Haden[17]

[p. 15-16] Letter from Captain Wake R. N. to Mr Haden[18]

[on verso of p. 15:] 'Wake'

[p. 17-19] Letter from Captain Doty to the Committee[19]

[p. 20, note:] Upon these letters the Committee have little to remark, the number and notoriety of the assaults and the fact of Mr Whistler having been three times under arrest for them established upon undeniable authority, warranted, they think, their first letter to him, and the offensive tone of Mr Whistler's replies - their last present action.

2 To Mr Whistler's complaint that the matter had been suffered to go on for a long time, and to an advanced stage without his knowledge, they answer that the date of Mr Hadens' first communication to them and of their first communication to Mr Whistler is [p. 21] the same viz the 11th June

3rd That in obtaining evidence of the assault upon Mr Legros, Mr Haden only carried out the suggestions wishes of the Committee -

4th That the communication of Captain Doty was entirely spontaneous, neither the Committee nor Mr Haden having any previous knowledge of that Gentleman till he presented himself at the Club -

They therefore think that the charges brought against them by Mr Whistler of "unfairness and ungentlemanly treatment" are not sustained -

That is the case of the Committee [... text breaks off]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [c. 12 December 1867]
This is a further version of a document prepared for the Burlington Club meeting, on 13 December 1867, to discuss the complaint made against JW (see below).

2.  Rodolph Nicholson Wornum
Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), history painter [more].

3.  Committee of the Burlington Fine Arts Club
The Burlington Club was a club for artists and connoisseurs. It was founded in c. June 1866 and located at 177 Piccadilly. Its committee included Richard Fisher (d. 1890), Fellow and Curator of the Society of Painter-Etchers [more], Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more] (President) and R. N. Wornum (Secretary). These letter copies relate to JW's quarrel with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more] (a club member) and his resistance to the Committee's efforts to expel him from the Club.

4.  MsDc
See also #12973.

5.  F Seymour Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

6.  The habit of ... people
Double underlined.

7.  Wake
Captain Baldwin Arden Wake (1813-1880), officer in the Royal Navy [more].

8.  Capt H. H. Doty
Captain Horace H. Doty (b. 1824 or 1825), officer of marines, specialist in signal lights and lighthouse illumination [more].

9.  Mr Legros
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more].

10.  Dr Geneau de Mussy
Henri-François Guéneau de Mussy (1814-1892), doctor [more].

11.  Boxall
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more].

12.  Louis Huth
Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more].

13.  Hon Secry ... Letters
Written in another hand.

14.  [pp. 8-9]
These pages are a deleted copy of #12942.

15.  Mr Haden to Mr Legros
This is a copy of #12944.

16.  Mr Legros to Mr Haden
This is the same as #12943 except the line 'J'ai été violemment [sic] insulté et maltraité par votre beau-frère -' is crossed out for 'maltraité par Whistler' and the line 'voyait qu'il' est arrivé trop de scenes de ce genre a Whistler depuis quelque temps' is double-underlined.

17.  Dr Gueneau de Mussy to Mr Haden
This is the same as #12945 except for the line 'J'etais à campagne hier et n'en suis revenu que ce matin' which is deleted.

18.  Captain Wake R. N. to Mr Haden
This is the same as #12946 except for the addition in brackets: 'Your letter of the 11th July only reached me recently (on finding Mr Whistler would not go out of the Club Mr Haden had written to Captain Wake, much the same sort of note that he had written to Mr Legros) with reference to Mr Whistler, I fear I cannot aid you further.'

19.  Captain Doty to the Committee
This is the same as #12947 except for the line 'This is Whistler the Artist, a Scoundrel, a Seducer, a Betrayer' which is deleted (it is also given the ending 'influence and importance').