The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Hannay, Daniel Whitton
Record 1 of 2

System Number: 13792
Date: [15 January 1888][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Editor[2], Sunday Times
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PL[3]

Sir, -

You, who are, I perceive, in your present brilliant incarnation, an undaunted and undulled pursuer of pleasing truths, listen, I pray you, while again I indicate, with sweet argument, the alternative of the bewildered one.

Notably, it is not necessary that the "Art Critic" should distinguish between the real and the "reproduction," or otherwise understand anything of the matter of which he writes, in that state of life, in which it has pleased God to call him, yet surely, as I have before now pointed out, he might enquire.

Had the expounder of Exhibitions, travelling for the Magazine of Art[4], asked the secretary[5] in the galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists, he would have been told that the "Notes"[6] on the staircase, and in the vestibule, are not "delightful sketches in Indian ink and crayon ... reproduced in marvellous facsimile by Boussod, Valadon and Co.[7] .... unworthy the glories of facsimile reproduction, and imposing margin" ... while "the chief honours of the portfolio, however, belong to the publishers" - but are, disconcerting as I acknowledge it to be, themselves the lithographs from nature, drawn on stone upon the spot.

Thus easily provided with paragraph, he would also have been spared the mortification of rebuke from his well-meaning and embarrassed employers.

Let the gentleman be warned - let him learn that the foolish critic only, looks, and brings disaster upon his paper - the safe and well-conducted one "informs himself"-

Yours, Sir, gently,


[butterfly signature]


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1.  [15 January 1888]
Date of publication in the Sunday Times.

2.  Editor
Possibly Daniel Whittle Hannay or Joseph Moses Levy.

3.  PL
Published in the Sunday Times, 15 January 1888; republished in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 197-98, with minor variations (see #13200). See also a draft version of this letter, #01723, and other versions at #01721, #01722.

4.  Magazine of Art
JW was quoting from a short unsigned note published in Anon., 'The Chronicle of Art: Engravings and Prints,' The Magazine of Art, vol. Il, December 1887, p. 12. See also Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, p. 196. The 'Art Critic' was Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more], and JW sent him a copy of the press-cutting (see #09327).

5.  Secretary
Horace Henry Cauty (1846-1909), historical and genre painter [more].

6.  Notes
The article in the Magazine of Art announced the issue of a 'brown paper portfolio of half a dozen "Notes", reproduced in marvellous facsimile by Boussod, Valadon and Co.' These were, in fact, a group of lithographs - Limehouse (C.7), Nocturne (C.8), Gaiety Stage Door (C.14), Victoria Club (C.15), Reading (C.17) and Old Battersea Bridge (C.18). They were printed by Thomas Way (1837-1915), lithographic printer [more]. Two of them, Gaiety Stage Door and Reading, formed part of JW's submission to Winter Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887-1888.

7.  Boussod, Valadon and Co.
Firm of art dealers and printsellers.