The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Whistler, Helen
Record 15 of 149

System Number: 06999
Date: [19/26 October 1880][1]
Author: JW
Place: Venice
Recipient: Helen and William McNeill Whistler[2]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W988
Document Type: ALS

Dear Willie & Nellie -

Two words for I am awfully pressed -

I think I shall turn up at last in about a couple of weeks!. - only keep it dark and on the strict QT. - for I dont want any body to know until I am in full blaze - I shall bring only my etchings - and my pastels[3] - the pictures later on -

It is the result of letter from Huish[4] - there is to be great Etching Game in Bond Street shortly - the Twelve greatest living etchers[5]! though as I said to him where [the] devil do they all come from - and I have promised to turn up on condition that of course I have the centre of the whole thing for myself! - It will be great fun - and also a capital rentrée for me ! - Huish is to be quiet about [p. 2] my return and the painter chaps are to suppose that things are unsatisfactory in Venice - But if Ridley[6] is in town then you may tell him in strict confidence - and he must get the press ready and in perfect working order - having oils for ink and boards for pressing proofs all nicely prepared for me for I shan't have a day to lose -

love to both & all -

Have you had the N. Y. Tribune Sept. 12 - it is enclosed in the letter to Edmund Yates[7] - read and put back - seal and kindly deliver at his door in Portland Place

Notice especially that in this I had made one little change - viz: this theatrical denouement I must also put aside with sorrow. Make this correction in your copy -

I had Hamertons letter[8] to me all right and have sent him his answer - charming! - amazing ! -

Get me the Tribune with his answer to my first letter by the way - I had sent my letter [9]originally to Scribners with the prayer that if it arrived too late for the Sept. number they would not keep it over but send it at once to the best N.Y. paper - this is how it appeared in the Tribune -

Yours Affectly -

Jim -

Love to the Mother[10][.] I shall write to her at once -

[Written diagonally to left of signature:] What of Elden[11] ? Did you read him my letter -

Do get Nellie to write now a good cackly letter with all the bits in it - Of course you must send a cutting from the Tribune to Haden[12] - Get somebody to address the envelope -

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1.  [19/26 October 1880]
Dated by reference to New York Tribune (see below).

2.  Helen and William McNeill Whistler
Helen ('Nellie') Euphrosyne Whistler (1849-1917), née Ellen Ionides, JW's sister-in-law [more]. William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

3.  etchings - and my pastels
JW's output in Venice included etchings (K.183-232, 240), pastels (M.725-828) and oils (YMSM 211-222).

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

5.  Twelve greatest living etchers
JW arrived during this show at the Fine Art Society, but did not participate in it.

6.  Ridley
Matthew White Ridley (1837-1888), painter and etcher [more].

7.  Edmund Yates
Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894), novelist, 'Atlas' columnist and editor-proprietor of the World [more].

8.  Hamertons letter
Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894), author, critic and artist [more], whose reply was published in the New York Tribune, 11 October 1880, reprinted in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890, pp. 88-9. A sentence was also used in Whistler's 1883 Venice catalogue.

9.  my letter
See JW's letter to the New York Daily Tribune, [16 August 1880], (#04281).

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

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

12.  Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. A letter from Haden appeared in the New York Tribune on 17 October 1880, stating that although Delâtre printed the 'French Set', Frederick Standridge Ellis (1830-1901), author, publisher and book-seller [more], had them steel-faced (see Getscher, Robert H., and Paul G. Marks, James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Two Annotated Bibliographies, New York and London, 1986, pp. 29-30, B.12).