The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Freer, Charles Lang
Record 37 of 374

System Number: 01503
Date: 29 February 1892
Author: Charles Lang Freer[1]
Place: Detroit
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler F435
Document Type: ALS

77 Alfred St.
Detroit. Mich -

'Feb. 29. 1892.'[3]

My dear Mrs. Whistler,

Your very kind letter came nearly two weeks ago, but the package of Lithographs was detained at the Custom house until yesterday - At first, the stupid officials who look after our silly revenue affairs here, were inclined to issue some ridiculously absurd ruling concerning the pictures, but, in a moment of just indignation, I demanded their clearance in language which I fear was much more blasphemous than courteous - and thereby prevented official utterance of the ruling and got the lithographs - Since then, during calmer moments, I have regretted that I did not allow the foolish ruling to be officially pronounced and published - for while the delight that the possession of the lithographs now gives me would have been deferred, I am sure that I would have been abundantly compensated by the great amusement the proposed edict would have furnished yourself and Mr. Whistler. Should another opportunity of the same kind offer, I shall be more diplomatic -

[p. 2] I cannot tell you how much pleasure I have already gotten from the lithographs and am sure that their charm will continue perpetually - Prior to their arrival my collection contained some fifteen examples of Mr Whistlers lithographic work, including the "Notes" published by Bussod, Valadon & Co.[4] and a few of the other single figure and outdoor subjects, but in paper, printing and completed beauty they do not approach the lovely impressions you so kindly sent - I wish that your lot might have included the "Nocturne" and "Limehouse"[5] of the Bussod, Valadon & Co. set - If fine proofs of these are to be had, wont you please send them along with selected proofs of the coloured lithographs[6] as soon as the latter are ready.

How is Mr. Whistler getting on with his work of retouching the Venice plates[7]? I am told that the new states of the plates are wonderfully beautiful, which I can readily believe - I have been expecting to receive from Mr. Whistler chosen proofs from these retouched plates for my collection [p. 3] and earnestly hope that I wont be disappointed - Will you kindly request Mr. Whistler to send them when he can -

I take much pleasure in enclosing herewith draft on London payable to the order of Mr. Whistler for £98. which I trust will cover the price of the lithographs £96. 12 and the expense of the Consulate Certificate and the express charges all of both of which were so courteously prepaid -

Accept also my many thanks for your own and Mr. Whistler's kindness -

I was in New York when the word first came to this country, of the well earned honor[8] paid to Mr. Whistler by the French Government - Of course we were very much delighted - This significant recognition of Mr. Whistlers art speaks in many ways and comforts many hearts - and although of universal interest, it is as peculiarily gratifying to all good Americans, as it must be supremely disappointing to the few remaining scalpless followers of Ruskinism[9] -

To Mr Whistler and yourself I beg to offer my heartiest congratulations - [p. 4] Mr. and Mrs. Hecker[10] send their kindest regards to yourself and Mr Whistler and are both much pleased to have the lithographs -

Miss Hecker[11] was married to my youngest brother[12] during November last (a real pleasure to us all) and she also sends her kindest regards - Let me add my own, and also my best wishes, and again, my thanks to yourself and Mr. Whistler -

Faithfully yours

Charles L. Freer.

February 29th - 1892 -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Charles Lang Freer
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more]. Published in Merrill, Linda, With Kindest Regards. The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler, 1890-1903, Washington and London, 1995, no. 10, pp. 81-83.

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

3.  'Feb. 29. 1892.'
Added in pencil, probably in the hand of Beatrix Whistler.

4.  "Nocturne" and "Limehouse"
Nocturne (C.8) and Limehouse (C.7).

5.  coloured lithographs
Figure Study in Colors (C.39), Red House, Paimpol (C.66) etc.

6.  Bussod, Valadon & Co.
Songs on Stone (excat 19), published by Boussod, Valadon et Cie.

7.  Venice plates
Probably from Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice, 1880 (the first 'Venice Set') (K. 183-189, 191-195). (excat 5).

8.  honor
JW had just been made an Officier de la Légion d'Honneur.

9.  Ruskinism
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more].

10.  Mr. and Mrs. Hecker
Col. Frank J. Hecker (1846-1927), partner of C. L. Freer, Michigan and Peninsular Car Company [more]; and Anna Hecker (b. ca 1844), wife of Frank J. Hecker [more].

11.  Miss Hecker
Mrs Watson Freer (m. 1891), née Hecker, sister-in-law to C. L. Freer [more].

12.  brother
Watson Freer (1863-1922), brother of C. L. Freer [more].