The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Document associated with: Wuerpel, Miss
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 07148
Date: 9 March 1900
Author: Edmund Henry Wuerpel[1]
Place: St Louis
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W1136
Document Type: ALS



St Louis

March 9th 1900

My dear Mr Whistler: -

When my friends came back from Europe last October, & told me how kindly you had received them, I assure you it made me feel as though after all I was not entirely forgotten by you & yours. That I appreciated your kindness & cordiality I need not say, & I only wish that I had had the oppertunity [sic] of seeing you instead of them. I had a sort of hope that I might in some way manage to get over there this summer, but I see not only no prospects for this summer, but none for several summers to come. I should imagine that the collection the french would gather for this Exposition would be even more interesting than that of 1889, & for that reason, if no other, I regret that I have not been asked to go abroad in some capacity. You may have heard that by some strange misadventure I was put on the National Jury for this country, and however undreamed of this honor (?) may have been, I enjoyed meeting some of the men very much. Mr Chase[2] took some of us over to his studio & showed us the work he was doing, & I saw a good deal of Mr Duveneck[3], & in the company of these men whom you had known I almost felt that I had come in touch with you once more. I was in New York only two days, having urgent calls to return to St Louis as soon as possible. So I did not get much out of my trip except the rubbing up against people of sympathetic spirits, which in itself was worth something though rather short[-]lived -

[p. 2] I found my friend Davis[4], whom you may possibly recall as the last & quietest sharer of my rooms in the rue de Vaugirard, sick in the hospital on my return & he has only just returned to his work here in the school. So all winter, day & night, I have been doing his work & saving his place & salary for him. The poor fellow needed all the help he could get, for his hospital experience was a long & costly one. So I have had to peg away constantly to get through with my work. I have been doing the work formerly done by three men & I presume if Mr Ives[5] found more work for me to do the foolish ass would still bear up & do it. Davis is back now & I have just begun to paint a little for myself something I have been deprived of all winter. I have a number of things on hand, principally landscapes, for I cannot afford to hire models & landscapes are always ready to pose. I am however busy with a figure study for which a friend is posing. But "friends" pose so attrociously [sic] that one can rarely get anything from them. Such at least has been my experience. Perhaps I treat them too politely. I am invariably discouraged & blue after trying anything of the [sort?]. My landscapes worry me too, but there I am positive that the only one to blame is myself, so when things go wrong I can fully account for it, & grin & bear it. One of my landscapes has gone over to Paris, & I wonder whether you will accidentally come across it; & I wonder still more what you will say of it when you see it. I am conscious of its deficiencies, but I hope that there is some raison d'être in the thing. Perhaps in some way I shall find out whether you have seen it & what you think of it.

[p. 3][6] I believe that if I could have more time & energy to devote to my work I could do more work & of a better quality. But as long as one has to dig for bread & work for pleasure the bread has to come first. My bread is not thickly buttered, but there is always a little to spare & I am forced to be content. There are those whose bread is scarce & who have to work in hunger.

I suppose that there is a good deal of philosophy to be observed in the ways of art as well as everything we undertake in these times of ours. But I do not seem to be philosophically inclined.

I am anxious to be done with the school work for this year & to get away from the city - but I have no idea where I can go, as with a wife & two children[7] it is not so easy as to gad about as by oneself. But whatever I do, I shall have time to paint & that is the main thing. I have been boring you with my personal grievances, for which I ask your pardon. In a life like mine, the events of the day usually are grievances -

I am going to try & find a copy of your new book[8] which I have, in my dense ignorance, only recently heard about. I shall enjoy it I know. - I have also been told that you are having a class, & needless to say, are having much success as a teacher. I wish that you had brought yourself to teach while I was in Paris. That is another thing I have missed.

In spite of your message to me, I am still going to look for a few lines from you some day. From Miss [p. 4] More's[9] account of you, I should judge that Miss Philip[10] is still with you. If it is so, I am sure that you will give her my kindest regards & tell her that I often think of her, as I do of all of you.

Believe me as ever my dear Mr Whistler yours with affection

Edmund. H. Wuerpel.

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

2.  Mr Chase
William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), painter [more].

3.  Mr Duveneck
Frank Duveneck (1848-1919), painter, etcher and art teacher [more].

4.  Davis

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

6.  [p. 3]
The printed address header is repeated at the top of this page, as on page one.

7.  a wife & two children
Mrs E. H. Wuerpel, wife of the artist; Miss Wuerpel, eldest daughter of the artist, E. H. Wuerpel; and Miss Wuerpel, second daughter of E. H. Wuerpel.

8.  book
Possibly referring to Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: the Baronet & the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, London, 1898.

9.  More's

10.  Miss Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].