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 37 of 149

System Number: 08164
Date: [January 1884][1]
Author: JW
Place: St Ives
Recipient: Helen Euphrosyne Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 3/26/1
Document Type: ALS

14. Barnoon Terrace[3]
St Ives   Cornwall

You are quite my dear Nellie -

I have been shabby enough in not writing to you - and unwise too for I might have had more of your own nice letters in reply - But I am as you have divined in a very bad way indeed! -

The Country wearies me - I have exhausted the Ocean! - come now this is charming! - and the grasshopper is indeed a burden[4] - wherever he is! -

Dear me Nellie when I am talking to [p. 2] you I find I am quite brilliant again! -

Don't you think Atlas[5] ought to have those two things - about the Ocean - and the grasshopper?

Well - for dulness, this place is simply amazing! - nothing but Nature about - and Nature is but a poor creature after all - as I have often told you - poor company certainly - and, artistically, often offensive -

Upon this subject I shall be quite eloquent when you see me again - Indeed it must be made much of in my next brown paper pamphlet[6] - When shall I write that masterpiece! -

I wish enough I could run up to town again at once - but I don't know - the work[7] I am doing may make this exile worth while - I have such inspirations too! in the way of 'games' for other shows - indeed I am sometimes quite bewildered with my own sparkling invention -

Thank Willie[8] for sending me the ten pounds at once as I begged him to - Enclosed is my check for that sum - but do you know I really am on the verge of destitution again - Lots of wealth I suppose in the way of material - but like pastels[9] worth much if able to keep - What I want [p. 3] now is a portrait, that would pay me - I wrote to Jack Chapman[10] the other day and told him that if he would send me £200 at once, (a sum I happen to require) I would paint him a full length of his wife[11] when they come to town - I haven't heard as yet - but surely that is a good offer considering the value the picture will be to him - Don't you know any one? - but it requires great diplomacy to make it all right - Of course the Ross Winans[12] would be a good business by and bye when they come back - etchings and pictures & portrait - But I want somebody now - Also could you & Willie think of any one I might borrow from for the while - You see I dont want to go to the Fine Art Society[13]

Get the World[14] again this week - not quite sure - but may have another shot -

If you write me a line tomorrow it would be delightful

Always Affectly

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [January 1884]
Dated by address. JW spent January 1884 at St Ives in Cornwall working with Mortimer Luddington Menpes (1860-1938), artist [more], and Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), artist and writer on art [more].

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

3.  14. Barnoon Terrace
Written across top of page 1 and foot of page 3.

4.  grasshopper is indeed a burden
Alluding to Ecclesiastes 12.5 - 'Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets'.

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

6.  brown paper pamphlet
JW's pamphlets and catalogues, such as the forthcoming catalogue for 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884, were carefully designed and bound in brown paper covers.

7.  work
Numerous small scale paintings of St Ives, seascapes and landscapes, reveal this as an important period in JW's artistic development (see YMSM 263-288; M.915-921).

8.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more]. JW is clearly hinting that he actually needs more money (see also his letter to Waldo Story, #09420).

9.  pastels
JW's two main attempts to sell pastels were at Venice Pastels, The Fine Art Society, London, 1881, and 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Second Series, Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1886. He exhibited them in small groups in Europe and America. Some collectors such as Thomas Way (1837-1915), lithographic printer [more], and Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more], amassed important collections of pastels.

10.  Jack Chapman
Alfred Chapman (1839-1917), engineer and collector [more].

11.  his wife
As far as is known, JW did not paint a portrait of Mrs Alfred Chapman, wife of the collector [more].

12.  Ross Winans
This is probably Ross Winans, Jr, brother of W. and T. De Kay Winans [more]. He may have still been collecting prints, but was not, as far as is known, an important patron of JW.

13.  Fine Art Society
The Fine Art Society, Bond Street dealers, had published Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice, 1880 (the first 'Venice Set') (K. 183-189, 191-195). (excat 5), but JW was dilatory in printing the sets.

14.  World
JW's letter to 'Atlas', dated 27 December 1883, on the subject of Henry ('Arry') Quilter (1851-1907), advocate and art critic [more], was published in The World, 2 January 1884 (Getscher, Robert H., and Paul G. Marks, James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Two Annotated Bibliographies, New York and London, 1986 B.24; #11398).