The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Child, Theodore
Record 19 of 55

System Number: 13182
Date: 19 January 1887[1]
Author: Theodore Child[2]
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: Edmund Yates[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: [Published][4]
Document Type: PLc

Dear Atlas, -

'Your James' has published some calumnious butterfly prose about me in Henry's paper[5].

Will you give me hospitalty [sic] for a reply?

I am accused of being a turncoat, and of having, in an article published in the New York Sun, abandoned the opinions concerning Mr. Whistler's work which I had the pleasure of expressing in the Fortnightly.

This is an absolute misrepresentation. My article in the Sun is entitled: 'Mr. Whistler's Ten o'Clock,'[6] and begins thus:

'Here in Paris we only know Whistler the etcher of the Thames and of Venice[7], and Whistler the painter of 'The White Girl[8],' exhibited in the Salon of 1863, of the Japanese fantasie 'On The Balcony,' of 'At the Piano,' and of the portraits of Miss Alexander, of Thomas Carlyle, and of the artist's mother - half a dozen works which are as near masterpieces as anything which this century has produced.

'As an etcher, Whistler has done work which bears comparison with the work of Rembrandt[9]; (p. 155) as a painter, he has signed pictures which suggest the mysterious simplicity of Velasquez[10].

'Thus his position as an artist is most honorable.'

After having thus placed Mr. Whistler, the painter and etcher, safely away on a pedestal of respect, I proceed in my article to study at some length the paradoxes of the 'Ten o'Clock,' and to criticise 'Jimmy' the wit and 'Jimmy ' the preacher, whose ambition it is to become the Sarah Bernhardt[11] of the lecture-room.

The only answer 'Jimmy' can make to my article is to go to America at once.

It is not by continually 'disappointing a continent' that he will convince the Trans-atlantic public of the excellency of his 'Ten o'Clock' gospel.

Theodore Child.

The World, Jan. 19, 1887.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  19 January 1887
Date of publication in the World.

2.  Theodore Child
Theodore Child (1846-1892), journalist and art critic [more].

3.  Edmund Yates
Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894), novelist, 'Atlas' columnist and editor-proprietor of the World [more].

4.  [Published]
Published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, ed. Sheridan Ford, Paris, 1890, pp. 154-5, under the title 'BUTTERFLY CALUMNY'.

5.  Henry's paper
Henry Du Pré Labouchère (1831-1912), journalist and Liberal MP [more], was the editor of Truth.

6.  'Mr. Whistler's Ten o'Clock,'
Whistler, James McNeill, Mr. Whistler's 'Ten O'Clock.', London, 1885. Child's reviews appeared in the New York Sun, 1886, and Fortnightly Review, 1886.

7.  Thames and of Venice
A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames, 1871 (the 'Thames Set') (K.38-44, 46, 52, 66, 68, 71, 74-76, 95) (excat 4), Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice, 1880 (the first 'Venice Set') (K. 183-189, 191-195). (excat 5), and A Set of twenty-six etchings of Venice, 1886 (the second 'Venice set') (K.196-216, 233-237). (excat 6).

8.  The White Girl
The paintings cited are Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38), Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56), At the Piano (YMSM 24), Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander (YMSM 129), Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) and Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101).

9.  Rembrandt
Rembrandt Harmens van Rijn (1606-1669), painter and etcher [more].

10.  Velasquez
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660), painter [more].

11.  Sarah Bernhardt
Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923), née Henrietta Rosine Bernard, actress [more].