The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Kitchener, Herbert
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System Number: 04551
Date: 2 December 1898
Author: Elizabeth Robins Pennell[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P191
Document Type: ALS

Dec. 2d 1898


Dear Mr. Whistler,

We have been hoping every day to hear the well-known and very much missed knock, and to see you back in London and Buckingham Street again. And so hoping, we have wanted to write, especially as, though many things have happened, there has been nothing really amusing or exciting since the Hooley[2] revelations. The New English Art Club has opened - but that is not an event that means excitement any longer. The [p. 2] Baronet[3] occupies his accustomed place on the wall of water-colours and "the little Rothenstein"[4] has returned in the bosom of the fold, as perhaps you have heard already. The Show of Lithographs[5] is in full swing at South Kensington, and really very interesting, and need I tell you there is nothing more delightful in it than the collection loaned by the Butterfly Company[6]? But I know you have had news of all this, and I do not grant to send mere repetitions across the Channel -

Of other gay & pleasant gossip, somehow we seem to have heard little. You [p. 3] should not leave London so long with dulness! Mr. Landor[7] has been eating dinners almost as industriously as the Sirdar[8], and as it means hard work, it is comparatively long since he has paid us one of his usual late evening visits, with watch in hand ready to rush off to his mysterious engagements. Nor have we seen Mr. Heinemann[9], who has been launching one successful book after the other. But when are we to have the book[10]?

Mr. Kennedy[11] has just sent me an excellent photograph of himself, looking a trifle furieux, to be sure, but then, by this time we know the friendliness of his fury. And [p. 4] his friend Mrs. Talman[12] - do you remember - has just sent us a jar of real American mince meat. It is enough to make Busyard put up his shutters and retire in shame. Really, I had forgotten how good mince pies could be. Is there a chance, I wonder, of your letting us give you a reminder, in this pleasant shape, of how much better we order these things in America? When are we to see you again.

Joseph[13], at this minute, is away amusing himself somewhere in the wilds of the City - But I know without his being here, that he gives with me his cordial greetings and the hope of your speedy return to London.

Very sincerely yours

E. R. Pennell

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Elizabeth Robins Pennell
Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855-1936), née Robins, JW's biographer [more].

2.  Hooley
A reference to a recent scandal in which the financier and corporate fraudster Ernest Terah Hooley (1859-1947) went bankrupt owing £1.5 million, a phenomenal amount in 1898.

3.  Baronet
Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more].

4.  the little Rothenstein
William Rothenstein (1872-1945), artist [more].

5.  Butterfly Company
The Company of the Butterfly was established in London by JW to sell his work.

6.  Show of Lithographs
It was the centenary of the invention of lithography by Alois Senefelder (1771-1834), inventor [more]. JW had lent several lithographs to the Centenary Exhibition at the South Kensington Museum. See H. T. Wood to JW, #05504; A. Trendell to Company of the Butterfly, #05521.

7.  Mr. Landor
Henry Savage Landor (1867-1924), artist and explorer [more].

8.  Sirdar
General or other military leader. Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916), Chief of Staff in South Africa from 1900-1902 [more], was the Sirdar, in charge of British troops in Egypt. He would undoubtedly have spent an excessive amount of time eating official banquets, at this point, after his success in the Battle of Omdurman, when he defeated the forces of the Mahdi in the Sudan.

9.  Mr. Heinemann
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more].

10.  book
Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24].

11.  Mr. Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].

12.  Mrs. Talman
Mrs Talman, friend of E. G. Kennedy.

13.  Joseph
Joseph Pennell (1860-1926), printer and illustrator, JW's biographer [more].