The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Deschamps, Charles William
Record 10 of 54

System Number: 00830
Date: [10/22 November 1873][1]
Author: Charles William Deschamps[2]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler D36
Document Type: ALS[3]


My dear Mr Whistler,

Before answering your letter, let me express my satisfaction at hearing that your health is improving. Believe me not only myself & my wife[5], but everybody who heard of your illness, sympathized with you; though I have not sent any one to enquire, for the last week or so, I was constantly hearing about you. -

At the back of the picture of the "Yacht Race"[6] is a small white ticket or label with the following inscription:
"The Yacht Race
A Symphony in B Sharp.
(Signed) J. Whistler.["]

[p. 2] I naturally copied this same inscription, wishing to give your own title & knowing how particular you are about such things. -

You really do the "Club", if you mean the Hogarth, injustice! You will find no body of men more sympathetic to you and more respectful with regard to your work. - As to myself, I am astonished that you should have ever dream't for a moment of my playing you a "hoax", or indulging in a joke at the expense of a work of yours. -

Poor Observer[7] critic! It does not require much mind to find out puns in a serious man's wordings. - What a boon for the Observer critic to have found out some joke to dwell upon and gloat over!

[p. 3] If I have done wrong, it is because I followed your own instructions to the letter. -

The Yacht Race even as it is, is a beautiful picture; for my own part I prefer the frame[8] as it is; rough, simple, ugly even, but it holds a jewel. - You cannot think how the picture has been admired, and how my wife has been envied for possessing it. -

I send you this, my justification, by bearer, who will, if necessary, testify to the existence of the above mentioned label signed by yourself. -

I sincerely hope your convalescence will be a short one, and that you will be able to take up with renewed vigour the marvelous quantity of beautiful work you have in hand.

A word by bearer to -

Yours most sincerely

Chs W Deschamps.

[p. 4] I forgot to say that, should it be your wish, I will instantly withdraw the picture for from the gallery. - I[t] will be delightful for me to have it back again at home. -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [10/22 November 1873]
This is a reply to JW's letter (#13487) and must date from after a review in the Athenaeum (Athenaeum, 8 November 1873, p. 601) but before publication of JW's letter on 22 November (Whistler, James McNeill, [Letter to the Editor], The Athenaeum, no. 2404, 22 November 1873, p. 666, #13150).

2.  Charles William Deschamps
Charles William Deschamps (1848-1908), art dealer [more].

3.  ALS
This was written in reply to a letter from JW (#11192).

4.  Society of French Artists
This letter is about the 7th Exhibition, Society of French Artists, London, 1873.

5.  my wife
Christina Deschamps (b. ca 1848), wife of the art dealer, C. W. Deschamps [more]. The letter suggests, further on, that it was actually she who owned the painting under discussion.

6.  Yacht Race
Trouville (YMSM 70) was exhibited at the 7th Exhibition, Society of French Artists, London, 1873 (cat. no. 110) as 'The Yacht Race - A Symphony in B sharp'. In 1891 he sold the picture back to JW (see #00833).

7.  Observer
London newspaper; reference not located.

8.  frame
JW had started to use frames painted with a design of feathers or scale-patterns, and signed with a butterfly.