The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 00317
Date: 12 November 1901
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Oliver E. Bodington[1]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler B93
Document Type: Lfc


8 Fitzroy St

Nov 12th 1901

Dear Mr Boddington

I regret exceedingly that I am not by to make this matter clearer. I think that in a few minutes you would agree with me that our course of action is as simple as possible. Meanwhile Carmens[3] attitude is as I pointed out exactly what was to be expected

She probably believes that we were convinced by her decided statement of the second day, though in direct contradiction to her first declaration. I did not (p. 2) question or deny her assertion so as to give her full play and she certainly went the full length of her rope

There you have the limited cunning of the peasant in her for had she been an old hand or a more gifted criminal she might have thrown over Hessel[4], but had she stuck to her first admission that Monsr[5] never had allowed these canvases to go out of the Studio in such a condition which she would have been quite (p. 3) safe for Hessel could never give her away now, he never could say "why you brought them to me yourself"? - for he has written that he received them direct from my own hands with date and circumstances so that he is tied up for ever. - Doubtless Hessel had frightened her in some way and on her return she would hasten to report to Hessel that it was "allright" x x x that her story had been swallowed - Now (p. 4) "writes her right here" as the Americans say is our first failure ...... for your clerk missed the next morning tracing Carmen to Hessel. This would have been an easy business requiring neither dectectives nor expense .... and I had relied on it!


Now in my opinion we can leave both Carmen & Hessel where they are for the present. The action you see is not being brought by me at all. This I feel you have not (p. 5) quite understood. I[6] do not take the initiative. We have managed this rather well. Mr Reid[7] is in a manner forced to bring an action against me for stopping one of these canvases which he bought from Bernheim[8] & Bernheim is Hessell. Master Hessell will have to appear in Court here as a witness for Reid. To be cross-examined by us & Carmen he will probably bring over to testify for him - And now you see where we are, & that there is no question of Paris trial either civil or criminal. There may be developments hereafter[.] (p. 6) That is another thing. We may content ourselves with the case here. If you have got that commission examination which Mr Kelly[9] said was easy to obtain then you will have achieved what we want as far as Hessel is concerned. Has Carmen given you the details of her hypothecating the portrait? Is her confession to us? As I have told you I want to know where it is & that I can get it back [...][10]

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1.  Oliver E. Bodington
Oliver Eaton Bodington (1859-after 1936), barrister and author [more].

2.  Copy
Double underlined.

3.  Carmens
Carmen Rossi, model, proprietess of the Académie Carmen [more].

4.  Hessel
Charles Hessele (fl. 1892-1914), print dealer [more].

5.  Monsr
Monsieur, Fr., Sir, that is, JW.

6.  I
Double underlined.

7.  Mr Reid
Alexander Reid (1854-1936), Glasgow dealer [more].

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

9.  Mr Kelly
Kelly, lawyer, partner in Boddington and Kelly.

10.  [...]
The copy ends here; possibly there is a page or pages missing, or else the whole letter was not fully copied.