The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Graham, William (1817-1885)
Record 13 of 17

System Number: 13783
Date: [11 April 1886][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: [Edward Dicey][2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PL[3]



In your report of the Graham Sale[4] of pictures at Messrs. Christie and Manson's rooms, I read the following :

"The next work put upon the easel, was a 'Nocturne in blue and silver,' by J. M. Whistler. It was received with hisses."

May I beg, through your widely spread paper, to acknowledge the distinguished, though I fear unconscious, compliment so publicly paid.

It is rare that recognition, so complete, is made during the lifetime of the painter, and I would wish to have recorded my full sense of this flattering exception in my favour.

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [11 April 1886]
Date of publication in the Observer (see below).

2.  [Edward Dicey]
Edward James Stephen Dicey (1832-1911), barrister, author and journalist [more]; he was editor of the Observer from 1870-1889.

3.  PL
First published in Whistler, James McNeill, [Letter to the Editor], The Observer, 11 April 1886; republished in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, p. 176, under the heading 'Early Laurels'. Our transcription is taken from the latter. An incomplete manuscript copy in another hand, with minor variations, is at #11342.

4.  Graham Sale
The auction of the collection of William Graham (1817-1885), MP and collector [more], took place on 2 and 3 April 1886. It included important works by contemporary artists including Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more], and George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), painter and sculptor [more]. Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140), then known as 'Nocturne in Blue and Silver,' had been owned by Graham since 1877. The report published in the Observer stated that when displayed before the crowd, 'it was received with hisses.' The picture was purchased by Robert Hichens Camden Harrison (1837?-1924), collector [more], for 60 guineas. See also a report in the Saturday Review, 10 April 1886, and reference in Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, p. 59.