The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Grieg, Edvard
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 07147
Date: 16 April 1897
Author: Edmund Henry Wuerpel[1]
Place: St Louis
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W1135
Document Type: ALS



April 16th 1897

My dear Mr Whistler: -

Some reproductions of your recent work has [sic] reached me through the pages of the Art Journal[3] & I cannot forgoe [sic] the pleasure of writing to tell you how glad I was to see them and how much I liked them. You can probably not even estimate what it means to us heathens to see things of that kind. We are in a perfect desert here, as far as work is concerned, & the aridness of it is very rapidly drying me up. Thousands of canvasses are unloaded here every year, & it is a great event to find a hundred worth turning towards the light. It is enough to make a saint complain. But from reports which reach us, I should judge that I am [p. 2] a great deal more fortunate than the majority of fellows over here. I have never heard such universal complaints, as I hear now. From all sides comes the cry of "Hard times". Even in that prolific market of art refuse "Chicago", the same cry is heard. What we are coming to I cannot tell. I am only too thankful that I have a small but fixed income to depend upon. My work here is of very little satisfaction excepting in that respect. I may have a knack of telling people self evident truths in a more or less inoffencive [sic] manner, but I was never cut out for a teacher & shall hail with delight the day when I can drop it, & earn my salt at painting. If I were in Paris I should take the liberty which you have so kindly granted me in former [p. 3][4] times, to take some of my work to you for criticism. I am inclined to think that you would find change in in [sic] my work, & perhaps for the better. At least, on looking at some of the things I have shown you, I cannot help wondering how you could ever have given me any encouragement about them. I see so plainly how bad they were, & I am sure I did not realize it at the time, at any rate not in the same degree. Perhaps this is an improvement even though my actual work shows very little change. It would do me a tremendous amount of good to have you talk things over with me & I sometimes fight for hours against an insane sort of regret at things which cannot be [p. 4] changed. There is a small colony of artists here, who are fighting their way to obscurity, and I feel my self entirely out of sympathy with them. Not on the score of our mutual destination however, but because they have no feeling for subjects that I am fond of treating. Fellows with cold white high lights, and impossible blues & purples & greens. Some of the Glasgow fellows[5] have exhibited here in St Louis & I enjoyed their work & could not help but see the amount of influence you had had on them. It is that sort of thing which I miss. Zorn[6] has been here painting some high priced portraits which I have not seen, but which suits the taste of the people much better than and [sic] thing else could. Still I think they prefer a crayon portrait, or a 25¢ lithograph in gaudy colors, better even to a $1000.00 Zorn.

I am aching to get out of it all, but I feel pretty well anchored down [p. 5][7] with a wife & child[8] to take care of. They are lots of comfort to me anyway, and I am sure are worth any amount of selfish sacrifice. The little girl is developing very nicely & is ane endless source of pleasure to us with her winning ways & growing intelligence.

I wonder whether you are still at the rue du Bac. I am going to address this there at any rate & take my chances at having it returned to me.

How is Mrs Whistler[9]. Please tell her that I often recall with the greatest pleasure those evenings at the piano & "Grieg"[10]& the rest of them, and the bad 4th at whist I used to make. I hope she has forgotten the latter.

And her sister[11] too I often think of & wonder about.

[p. 6] I ran across some invitations to dine at 110 rue du Bac, the other day & wished that I were in a position to accept them. Perhaps in 1900 something may turn up à la Micawber or Coloner Sellers[12] & who knows - we may be able to visit Paris & see you again, Ojala! con gusto[13]!

Please give my kindest regards to all & believe me
as ever cordially yours

Edmund. H. Wuerpel.

3418 Lucas Ave
St Louis Mo.

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1.  Edmund Henry Wuerpel
Edmund Henry Wuerpel (1866-1958), artist and teacher [more].

Halsey Cooley Ives (1847-1911), painter [more].

3.  Art Journal
Perhaps a reference to Thomson, David Croal, 'New Pictures by Mr. Whistler,' Art Journal, LIX, January 1897, pp. 10-13.

4.  [p. 3]
Numbered 'II' by Wuerpel.

5.  Glasgow fellows
Probably James Guthrie (1859-1930), landscape and portrait painter [more], James Whitelaw Hamilton (1860-1932), artist [more], or David Young Cameron (1865-1945), painter and etcher [more].

6.  Zorn
Anders Leonard Zorn (1860-1920), painter, etcher and sculptor [more]

7.  [p. 5]
Numbered 'III' by Wuerpel.

8.  wife & child
Mrs E. H. Wuerpel, wife of the artist, and Miss Wuerpel, eldest daughter of the artist, E. H. Wuerpel.

9.  Mrs Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more], died on 10 May 1896. Wuerpel had been a frequent visitor when the Whistlers were living in Paris at 110 rue du Bac.

10.  Grieg
Edvard Grieg (1843-1907), composer, pianist and conductor [more].

11.  sister
Probably Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more].

12.  Micawber or Colonel Sellers
Fictional characters, the first, from Charles Dickens's novel, David Copperfield, the second, from Mark Twain's first extended work of fiction The Gilded Age, 1873.

13.  con gusto
Sp., God willing! with pleasure!