The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Search for People > Document Display

return to search results

Documents associated with: Whistler, Helen
Record 11 of 149

System Number: 06690
Date: [20 February/March 1880][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Venice]
Recipient: Helen Euphrosyne Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W684
Document Type: ALS

Well for once my dear Nellie I do not think that your news is as complete as I have always declared it to be! - You tell me that at last the mystery of the "Three Girls"[3] is cleared up - and proceed to absolute silence on the subject! - You say that neither Leyland nor Howell[4] was at the bottom of the matter - and leave me gasping for the names of the criminals and the story of their crime! - Willie[5] then writes, and upon the falacious [sic] plea that "Nellie has told me all the news" limits himself to statements in no way concerning the affair - while Elden[6] from whom at least I still hoped - doesn't write at all! - I should so much like to understand the whole thing Nellie - do tell us the whole history - Way[7] seems to have curious scruples about the non appearance of the "lobsters &c &c"[8] at the sale, and wishes to put them up at public auction: - Well - I don't [p. 2] mind that - on the contrary - I shall rather like it, as you might well suppose - so Elden needn't shake his head and be grieved about it - The 'frilled lobster' by Caldecott[9]' would be good fun - but I must say I don't see how all this led to Waddell's[10] coming down to Wimpole Street [11]again in his capacity of "looking round" - I cannot understand what brought him and at whose suggestion - He would seem to have been rather nicely inclined towards me all throughout - and now I daresay would go without giving much trouble - Tell Willie not to let him ask a lot of bothering questions - Give him a bit of lunch or be sure to open a bottle of that Muscatel if you have any left and generally be jolly with him - What on earth Way wanted to stir up anything for I cannot imagine! - However we must take it all as lightly as we can - and I wish I might know when the Lobsters are to be put up, so that I might get something into the World[12]! - Of course you have seen Miss Caird[13] and heard all about her visit here! - also how amazed I was at suddenly seeing her - without the slightest preparing hint from you - for Willie's post card[14] - and why post card? - only came the day after - She will tell you though - and you must write me an account of the tea taking and chatting and all - and anything else you can possibly think of - for you know I always look forward to your letters as the most perfect of the lot! - Do try and tell us all the scandal you know and any tit bits about everybody - for I am just a wee bit down again in comparison - A superb chap I had posing for me must needs get an awful cold, fell into the hands of one a couple of the native doctors, who discover pleurisy or pneumonia or whatever it may be involving lungs and thereupon bleed him to within an inch of his life! The priest is sent for and he is going to leave me, with my unfinished picture, for another and a cheaper world when I come in one morning and give him a milk punch, throw open the windows and let in the sun which happened not to be frozen at the moment and persuade him to stay - but it will be some time before he is off his bed poor fellow - and my swell Gondolier[15] must wait! - It is well nothing has been said about it - However you know I am irrepressible - and so have started something else - You see I have such lots - and could stay here forever only I am so homesick! - Now mind - all this is between you and me - and I daresay by the time I get another letter from Wimpole St - I shall be all jolly again. Huish[16] is preparing fifty frames! for the pastels[17] which are, and remain even in my present depression, lovely! [p. 3] Just think fifty - complete beauties! - and something so new in Art that every body's mouth will I feel pretty soon water - Tissot[18] I daresay will try his hands at once - and others too - By the way has Woods[19] called upon you yet? He promised me that he would - Willie would find him though every evening at the Arts Club. I should like to hear all the Mackenzie[20] letters. I daresay they will be capital - and I doubt not Willie will get the best of the fight[.] There is nothing like a good fight! It clears the air - and the only thing is not to have any half measures - for that gives a chance to the enemy who think you are showing signs of timidity, and so gather courage themselves for a general rush against you - The mistake I have sometimes made in my battles is that I have left my man alive! - He invariably gets better and worries you again, or at any rate remains a regret! - What in the world has that old Ass Ruskin[21] been gabling [sic] about now - really I must call him deliberately Ass - nothing else in English so describes him as [I] feel him to be - and what can dear Mme Coronio[22] think she understands in his prattle! Ah well wait till I come back and I will explain this apparently violent language - Don't put off sending my address book Nellie - I want to try and remember a lot of my friends whose names I fear I have forgotten! - The Bronsons[23] by the way have come back and I dined with them last night. They are very nice, and Bronson himself is very funny - Miss Chapman[24] too with them - and very kind in visiting my sick Gondolier - Now Goodbye - This is a long letter again - I am so very glad to know that the Mother[25] is better and I send her a note with this - Tell Elden to write - and any news there may be of Howell let me have -

[p. 1] Love to all -
Ever [Affectionately]

Jim -

Tell Elden to address his letters to me Café Florian -[26]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [20 February/March 1880]
Dated from references to subjects mentioned in other letters to the same recipient (#06689, #06688).

2.  Helen Euphrosyne Whistler
Helen ('Nellie') Euphrosyne Whistler (1849-1917), née Ellen Ionides, JW's sister-in-law [more].

3.  Three Girls
The Three Girls (YMSM 88).

4.  Leyland nor Howell
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more], and Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

5.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

6.  Elden
Matthew Robinson Elden (1839-1885), artist [more].

7.  Way
Thomas Way (1837-1915), lithographic printer [more].

8.  lobsters &c &c
The Loves of the Lobsters (YMSM 209), The Gold Scab (YMSM 208), Mount Ararat (YMSM 210).

9.  Caldecott
Leyland had visited the White House with Rosa Laura Caldecutt (1843?-1890), mistress of F. R. Leyland [more]. The reference probably does not involve Randolph Caldecott (1846-1886), illustrator [more].

10.  Waddell's
Messrs. Waddell and Co.

11.  Wimpole Street
The home of the recipient.

12.  World
London society journal.

13.  Miss Caird
Ellen Caird, friend of Mrs F. Leyland, possibly a sister of Sir James Caird.

14.  Willie's post card
Not located.

15.  Gondolier
Giovanni, JW's gondolier and model. JW's painting of A Gondolier (YMSM 216), was probably never finished.

16.  Huish
Marcus Bourne Huish (1843 - d.1921), barrister, writer and art dealer, Director of the Fine Art Society [more].

17.  pastels
Venice pastels (see M.725-828).

18.  Tissot
Jacques ('James') Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), painter and etcher [more].

19.  Woods
Henry Woods (1846-1921), genre and landscape painter and illustrator [more]. At the suggestion of his brother-in-law, Luke Fildes, Woods had settled in Venice in 1876 as a painter of Venetian life.

20.  Mackenzie
Dr Morell Mackenzie (1837-1892), surgeon, founder of the London Hospital for Diseases of the Throat [more]. He must have been involved in a dispute with W. G. Whistler.

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

22.  Mme Coronio
Aglaia Coronio (1834-1906), née Ionides, wife of George Coronio [more].

23.  Bronsons
Katherine Coleman Bronson (1834-1901), née De Kay [more]. She was related to Whistler's early patron, Thomas De Kay Winans (1820-1878), locomotive engineer and collector [more]. Whistler, like Browning and Henry James, enjoyed their hospitality.

24.  Miss Chapman
Possibly Rose Chapman, a relation of the collector Alfred Chapman of Liverpool.

25.  Mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

26.  address his letters to me Café Florian -
The famous café on the Piazzetta by San Marco in Venice.