The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Graham, William (1817-1885)
Record 2 of 17

System Number: 01792
Date: [1869/1873][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: William Grapel[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G158
Document Type: ALS

2 Lindsey Row
Chelsea -

Dear Grapel

Your note has given me great pleasure - and the friendly interest you show I value highly - I wish indeed that the little Blue Girl[3] were yours - for you like it and I should be much gratified to see myself on your walls - and in the good company of l'ami Foulogne[4] [sic] - This blue picture is a comission [sic] [p. 2] though - tant pis[5]! that is I am really sorry in this case because I should have liked to please you and care but little about the other who is comparatively a stranger - The violet Girl[6] though as yet is promised to no one - and when I show her at all! I shall send for you - It would I think please you - also The Venus[7] is really scarcely to be judged of in its present wild rough hewn [p. 3] state - but however I shall have some thing of about the dimensions of the Blue Girl shortly under way and we will talk of that -

In short my dear Grapel I am very much pleased at your expressing such sympathy with my work and shall be charmed some day to see some thing of mine in your collection -

I quite agree with you [p. 4] about the picture Dealer set - and have scarcely ever had anything to do with them -

I look forward to Monday evening with pleasure mingled with a strong determination to be punctual

Ever Yours

J. A. McN. Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [1869/1873]
The references to a painting of 'Venus' indicate a date between 1869 and 1873 (see below). JW lived at 2 Lindsey Row from February 1867 to June 1878 but most letters written in this form date from 1867 to 1870.

2.  William Grapel
William Grapel (b. 1822), barrister-at-law and collector [more]. JW's dismissive comments on art dealers suggest that Grapel was a collector rather than a dealer.

3.  Blue Girl
Annabel Lee (YMSM 79), was commissioned by William Graham (1817-1885), MP and collector [more]. According to Whistler's mother, writing on 3 November 1871, it was commissioned two years earlier, that is, in 1869 (#10071). Although Graham tried in April 1874, and again in July 1877, to persuade Whistler to part with the picture, it was never completed (#01782, #01783).

4.  l'ami Foulogne
Alfred-Charles Foulongne or Foulogne (1821-1897), landscape and genre painter [more]. Both JW and Foulongne studied with Gleyre in Paris, although Foulongne would probably have left just before JW arrived. However, this may account for JW calling him 'l'ami Foulogne' (see also #01795). Grapel owned a number of works by Foulongne, which he lent to the Salon: Au bord d'une source in 1869, Erigone in 1870, Naïades in 1872, and L'appel in 1873 (collections unknown).

5.  tant pis
Fr., too bad.

6.  violet girl
Violet Girl (YMSM 102).

7.  Venus
JW started at least three versions of paintings of Venus, which were apparently never completed. An elaborate cartoon called Venus (M.357) was dated '1869', but although it was pricked for transfer, and there is a small oil sketch of the same composition, now known as Tanagra (YMSM 92), no final version is extant. Two more paintings of 'Venus', are Venus (YMSM 82), which is one of 'The Six Projects' (YMSM 82-87) (excat 11), and Venus Rising from the Sea (YMSM 93). Both are in what JW might have called a 'rough hewn state', but it is possible they were near completion in 1870, when Edwin Edwards wrote 'j'irais voir Whistler aussitot que je peux sortir - il a presque fini quelque chose (une Venus je crois) pour l'Académie' (copy of letter from E. Edwards to Fantin-Latour, [February 1870], GUL C. P. Barbier Collection, vol. 2, f. 274 v.; original in Musée de Grenoble [?]). Although, no such painting was sent to the Royal Academy in May 1870, JW may have continued to work on the subject, for as late as 31 January 1873, JW wrote to Louis Huth fixing prices for 'the Venus' and two figures (#02242). Huth did not buy them nor was anything further heard of them.