UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Bernheim-Jeune, Gaston
Record 4 of 4

System Number: 09875
Date: September 1903[1]
Author: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[2]
Recipient: [none]
Repository: New York Public Library
Call Number: E. G. Kennedy I/55
Credit Line: Edward Guthrie Kennedy Papers / Manuscripts and Archives Division / The New York Public Library / Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Document Type: AD


This is à propos of Carmen[3] & picture stealing from the Studio. Of course, the whole was entirely imaginary, as next year the matter was tabooed.

When I say "imaginary", I mean that the man must have some excitement & he seized on the unfinished pictures which he had disposed of when hard up, to make it.

But an icily polite note from the picture dealer Bernheim[4] in Paris made him drop "impounding" pictures, as he had done in Forbes's case.

He was told that B. had paid Hessele[5] for it the picture, that it came from his W's studio, that he had sold it & been paid for it, & that they would bring an action for damages for slander at once unless the picture was released &c. &c. It was released, but [p. 2] W. was careful not to mention this to anyone. He went on however making accusations against anyone or everyone who might happen to have anything of his to dispose of.

Next year the matter was never heard of, the "organised conspiracy" being a Chimera, maybe fostered by that stupid Webb.

E. G. K.

Sept 1903

Of course, I did not see Webb. I had no time to waste.

[p. 3] Hessell is the man that Whistler says is the go-between: that is, the man who got pictures from Carmen & then sold them. Carmen was his Italian model when a child & young girl, & afterwards had a school which Whistler used to visit when the humor took him. As for regularity with him, that was out of the question.

This curious notion bluff that Carmen was a thief may be dealt with again sometime. The whole thing Whistler got up to throw dust in people's eyes. The facts are, that Whistler when pressed for money several years before this (1901), sold to Hessell from time to time a number of incomplete Canvasses. When, afterwards, they turned up in London, (some of them) one at McLean[6]'s (sold to Forbes[7]) and one at Marchant[8]'s in Regent St. (Goupil's formerly) he noticed how incomplete they were & said that they were incomplete, stolen, & c. but Bernheim[9] stopped that very quickly by threatening to bring suit for slander.


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Notes:

1.  September 1903
These two pages were written after JW's death but are commentaries on a letter dating from the autumn of 1901 (JW to E. G. Kennedy, #09822).

2.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].

3.  Carmen
Carmen Rossi, model, proprietess of the Académie Carmen [more]; see Rose et or: La Napolitaine (YMSM 505).

4.  Hessell
Charles Hessele (fl. 1892-1914), print dealer [more], bought several works including Violet and Blue: The Red Feather (YMSM 503) and Rose et or: La Napolitaine (YMSM 505).

5.  McLean
Possibly Thomas M. McLean (b. ca 1832), print dealer and publisher [more].

6.  Forbes
James Staats Forbes (1823-1904), railway manager and collector [more].

7.  Marchant
William Stephen Marchant (1868-1925), art dealer [more].

8.  Bernheim
Gaston Bernheim-Jeune (1870-1953), Paris art dealer [more].