The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Ford, Mary Bacon
Record 7 of 49

System Number: 00200
Date: 12 April 1888
Author: Arthur B. Turnure[1]
Place: New York
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler A199
Document Type: TLS

[printed design with foliage, and monogram:] A A



Dear Sir: -

Miss Mary Bacon Martin[2] called at my office some time ago upon a matter of business and your name was mentioned. I told her that I had had in mind for some time writing to you to learn if possible how you would regard two ideas which had occurred to me with regard to yourself. I believe you know my cousin, Miss Jeanne Turnure[3], who has an admirable portrait of yourself by Rajon[4]. If it will be agreeable to you, I would like to publish this portrait in the Art Age, a copy of which I have the pleasure of sending you, and making the occasion of this publication an article upon your work which I would like to accompany with one of your autographic lithographs[5], which I understand you have been experimenting with in the past year, and in which form of graphic art there is a revived interest in the United States due mainly to the recent exhibition of Millet's[6] lithographs and etchings. For this purpose I should require a lithographic stone shipped me here from London, from which I would do the printing. Upon finishing the edition I would return the stone to you. If you do not care to do this, I would like to print one of your etchings. In either case I suppose you understand that being an art journal and all means at my disposal being absorbed by the expense of manufacturing the paper and of presenting the artist's work in the best possible form, I could offer you no compensation for the use either of the stone or the etching plate, other than you would be likely to find in the increased interest in your work. Possibly you appreciate as well as I do that one of the unfortunate features of publishing an art journal is the inability of the publisher to pay for the subject matter as publishers pay when they are fortunate enough to possess a popular periodical which is a money-making institution.

My second idea is merely tentative. I understand that you contemplate a tour of Spain[7] in the near future. Would you be disposed to have this tour the occasion for making a series of 20 original etchings[8] and printing 100 copies of each plate, which I would handle for you in the United States by subscription[9]? In order to relieve you of any feeling of obligation to complete the work, which while in progress might prove distasteful, the arrangement could be that each set of prints and the plate could be paid for on delivery, and you [p. 2] might discontinue the series at any time. I think I can provide for this contingency with my subscribers.

When I presented these two ideas to Miss Martin, she seemed to be more than enthusiastic and kindly offered to send me a note which I might enclose to you. You will find same[10] herewith.

Y'rs very f'f'y,

Arthur B Turnure

April 12th, 1888.

To Mr. J. Mc N. Whistler.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Arthur B. Turnure
Arthur B. Turnure (b. ca 1856), editor of the Art Age, New York [more].

2.  Mary Bacon Martin
Mary Bacon Ford, née Martin, art agent [more]. Ford had already mentioned Turnure's proposal in a letter written to JW on 31 March (#01438). Ford's letter seems also to have included some note of introduction from Turnure.

3.  Jeanne Turnure
Jeanne Turnure, collector [more].

4.  Rajon
Paul-Adolphe Rajon (1842 or 1843-1888), painter and printmaker [more]. Rajon seems to have made a lithograph of JW (after a photograph) sometime during the 1880s. An example is in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.

5.  lithographs
Over the past year, JW had produced a number of lithographs of London subjects including Churchyard (C.21) and Little Court, Cloth Fair (C.22).

6.  Millet's
Jean François Millet (1814-1874), artist [more]. The exhibition is unidentified. However, it may have been inspired by a landmark retrospective of Millet's work which took place at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris in November 1887. It was widely noticed and discussed amongst artists. Millet had also become popular with American collectors (see Murphy, Alexandra R. Jean-François Millet : drawn into the light, exh. cat., Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA & New Haven, 1999).

7.  Spain
Apart from a visit to the Spanish border town of Fuenterrabia in 1862, JW never made the journey to Spain although he often expressed a wish to do so, especially to see the works of Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660), painter [more] at the Prado in Madrid. See, for example, JW to H. Fantin-Latour, #08028. Turnure's proposal never came to fruition.

8.  etchings
JW's etchings were selling well in America at this time through the dealers Wunderlich's and Knoedler's. In February 1888, Wunderlich's wrote to JW requesting additional supplies (see E. G. Kennedy to JW, #07155).

9.  by subscription
Handwritten above line.

10.  find same
See M. B. Ford to JW, 31 March 1888, #01438.