The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Goncourt, Edmond de
Record 3 of 5

System Number: 06593
Date: [14 June 1891][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W586
Document Type: ALS

'Hôtel du Helder[3]
June 14th 1891'


This can, I fancy be but a short note to my own Luck for it is late in the day and after all I have been as busy - about nothing much it is true - but as busy as the time has been long - in one sense any how! - First: don't post any thing to Paris tomorrow, for I hope to leave here tomorrow evening - I propose to pass tuesday at Dieppe - and to appear on Wednesday morning - Doubtless I shan't be able to do anything with the sea, for the wind seems to be always in the East! - unless todays cloudiness may mean a change - but I don't know - you ought to begin the Obi[4] at once Chinkie! - I should so like to bring home something - And as yet I have had no chance -

As to dear old Stevens[5], at least let him have the credit of his faith in [p. 2] my success, for I said nothing to him, notwithstanding the Tissane, about my intended exhibition - and it was his own proposition that we should have a show together - Do you know Chinkie I half believe it will all be for the best - especially if you do the Obi well -

I saw Petit[6] myself - and let him suppose that the idea emanated from myself, as it was arranged I should do - He was capital about it - and said that for us two he would do anything! - and that we should make the conditions ourselves - Well there is where the matter stands - except that he was going off to see Stevens at once, and that I went off to Fountainbleau[7] to pass the day with Mallarmé[8] - Meanwhile remains a secret - I have spoken of it to no one - And Petit appreciates the value of the surprise that such unexpected alliance is likely to produce! - However we can talk it all [p. 3] over long before the event and it shall be left as all things are to my dear Luck who can overrule them all -

Mallarmé charming - A wonderful little cabin on the river, where the little family eat soupe aux choux, and dress in anything! Most hospitable and warm hearted they were and delighted to see me - We drove over Mallarmé and I, or rather he drove me in a tiny dog cart over the the [sic] great Chateau - which we passed the afternoon in seeing - Oh Chinks you would have been enchanted! - Of course we will go together over it all again - Simply beautiful of course - The lovely of French Architecture - and this time in white with all the markings, pillasters and pickings out, in small dainty red bricks - And the rooms & halls & galleries in perfect condition - and the furniture from Louis XIII - XIV - and XV to some of the most delightful sofas of the [p. 4] empire that you would at once have wanted to carry away! - Well there was a day - perhaps not really lost - Thought nothing definite really managed about the [Dentist man[9]?]! - Mallarmé however is greatly vexed and said that he should write at once and say that his own position in the matter is a disagreable [sic] one - and that no more tardiness should be possible - ! Well we will see - And so home late at night like Mr Pepys[10] and to bed -

A note from Montesquiou[11] - and today passed with him - breakfast! and garden & Japonese [sic] tree[12] - and endless talk - and every thing charming - and very much about you - and Bunnie[13] & the red Lady - and all but he thinks that the return to the portrait would be in September - about - So the great sums must be coming from other sources in our good fortune - Well - upon the whole I daresay it is just as well - I confess I am rather relieved - There is first the Rosie[14] series to grow - and then the sea pictures which I have great faith in - and if we have warm weather[15] doubtless we should be couped [sic] up with the black portrait and perhaps a little bored - eh? -

Montesquiou is coming back for me to dine & perhaps we are to go to the Grefülhe's[16] [sic] - which - I rather would upon the whole do without! -

He missed you greatly at his little coquetish [sic] entertainment this morning - I enclose his last night's note[17] - & now must leave the rest together with the account of Degas'[18] breakfast until my return -

Goodbye for today my own dear Trixie -
God bless the Wams! -

[butterfly signature]

Love to Bunnie

I hope Webb[19] & William[20] are all right -

The panels have come -

This document is protected by copyright.


Mrs J. McNeill Whistler -
21. Cheyne Walk
London -
[postmark:] PARIS 49 / R. MARSOLLIER / EG 14 / JUIN / 91
[postmark on verso:] LONDON - S.W / V A / JU 15 / 91


1.  [14 June 1891]
Dated from postmark.

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. JW calls her 'Luck' and 'Chinkie', and for both of them, the 'Wams'.

3.  Hotel du Helder
'Hôtel ... 1891' was written at a later date by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. This information is confirmed by the postmark. Although he was in Paris, JW used his own notepaper with its orange embossed letterhead.

4.  Obi
A voodoo-type invocation or ritual originating in Africa.

5.  Stevens
Alfred Émile-Léopold Stevens (1823-1906), history and portrait painter [more].

6.  Petit
Georges Petit (1856-1920), Paris art dealer [more].

7.  Fountainbleau
Palace of Fontainebleau.

8.  Mallarmé
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), Symbolist writer and poet [more].

9.  Dentist man
Not identified.

10.  Mr Pepys
Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), diarist [more].

11.  Montesquiou
Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more]. He was posing for Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (YMSM 398).

12.  tree
Edmond de Goncourt, who visited Montesquiou soon after JW, observed: "Un petit jardin fantasque, qui a pour arbres une demi-douzaine de ces chênes et de ces thuyas en pot qu'il a achetés à l'exposition japonaise, arbres nains qui ont cent cinquante ans et qui sont de la grandeur d'un chou-fleur..." Journal, 7 July 1891.

13.  Bunnie
Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more]. She posed for several portraits including Red and Black: The Fan (YMSM 388).

14.  Rosie
Rose Amy Pettigrew (b. 1872), a model, later Mrs Warner [more].

15.  warm weather
The rest is written in the margins of p. 4.

16.  Grefülhe's
Elisabeth, Comtesse Greffulhe (1860-1952), née Riquer de Caraman-Chimay [more].

17.  note
Not located.

18.  Degas'
Hilaire-Germain-Edgar Degas (1834-1917), artist [more].

19.  Webb
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more].

20.  William
William Bell, JW's secretary [more].