The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Wisselingh., Elbert Jan Van
Record 20 of 27

System Number: 07856
Date: 9 November 1897
Author: Rosalind Birnie Philip[1]
Place: Paris
Recipient: Joseph Pennell[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 272/10/7
Document Type: ALS[3]

110 Rue du Bac
Paris -

Nov: 9th 1897

Dear Mr Pennell. -

Mr Whistler has been able to attend the Court to-day.

He wishes me to tell you that everything is going excellently well.

The Case will come on definitely on Tuesday next; therefore if you have any chance of coming over here, yourself and [p. 2] Mrs Pennell[4], he hopes you will take it.

Now he has written to Mr Webb[5] to put himself into communication with Mr Van Wisselingh[6] as he did with Mr Thompson[7] [sic], in order that the answer may have a certain legal reason for the Court here.

He wants you kindly to see Mr Van Wisselingh, so that he may not be allarmed [sic], and to tell him to write in reply to Messrs Webb a letter like this:

Gentlemen. - In reply to your letter I have to say that at the request of Mr Brown[8], one of the managers of the Fine Art Society, I went down to the see a portrait [p. 3] of a little daughter of Sir William Eden, painted by Mr Swann[9].

The Society had been asked by the picture from Sir William Eden to sell for him, and I was invited to make an offer a bid. I did not see my way I did not however buy the picture.

Your truly

Mr Van Wisselingh has already written[10] this kind of thing to Mr Whistler, but not exactly in the right shape.

As to the official proceeding through the French Council Mr Whistler says that Mr Pauling[11] will kindly see to this, if you tell him, as he did with the other -

Mr Whistler sends his [p. 4] kindest regards to Mrs Pennell & yourself and all his thanks.

He hopes you will go round Chelsea, and send him back any news!

Yours sincerely.

R. B. Philip.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. This letter concerns JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], over Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408). It began in February 1894 when JW, dissatisfied with his work, refused to hand it over. By November 1894, Eden had instituted legal proceedings against him but the case was not resolved until 1897. The dispute would drag on for a few more weeks until 2 December when JW, on appeal, was allowed by the Cour de Cassation in Paris to keep the picture. See Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24].

2.  Joseph Pennell
Joseph Pennell (1860-1926), printer and illustrator, JW's biographer [more].

3.  ALS
Written on mourning paper.

4.  Mrs Pennell
Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855-1936), née Robins, JW's biographer [more].

5.  Mr Webb
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more].

6.  Mr Van Wisselingh
Elbert Jan Van Wisselingh (b. ca 1848), art dealer [more]. In October 1893, Eden asked D. C. Thomson to dispose of the portrait (by John Macallan Swan (1847-1908), animal painter and sculptor [more]) as he disliked it; see W. Eden to D. C. Thomson, #01032. In 1897 just before the appeal in his libel action with Eden, JW learned the story. However, he believed that Eden offered it to Van Wisselingh (JW to J. Pennell, #07857). Van Wisselingh claimed, on the other hand, that the painting had not been offered to him but to the Fine Art Society (E. Van Wisselingh to JW, 3 November 1897, #07105).

7.  Mr Thompson
A mis-spelling of David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more]. JW also seems to have got hold of the story that Thomson offered to purchase JW's portrait of Lady Eden (see letters between D. C. Thomson and G. & W. Webb, #08427, #08428).

8.  Mr Brown
Ernest George Brown (1853 or 1854-1915), assistant manager at the Fine Art Society [more].

9.  Swann
A misspelling of Swan (see above).

10.  already written
See #07105.

11.  Mr Webb
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more].

12.  Mr Pauling
Sidney Southgate Pawling (d. 1922), business partner of the publisher W. H. Heinemann [more].

13.  Huish
Marcus Bourne Huish (1843 - d.1921), barrister, writer and art dealer, Director of the Fine Art Society [more].

14.  Mr Dunn
A. Homeyer Dunn, employee of the Fine Art Society.