The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 00594
Date: [c. 1 September 1885][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: William Merritt Chase[2]
Place: [New York]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C95
Document Type: ALd[3]

Dear Col Chace [sic] -

I am sure that [If?] you now are of course convinced that I have sponged with my wonted facility, all traces of the past few weeks from my memory! - and that the Colonel[4] and his kindliness and good companionship have all ceased to exist for me!

"No! Noo! Noo!["] - You were too Your visit stay here[5] was charming for me and I am only fear that you may have carried away an impression of intolerance and disputatiousness as my characteristics that it will be difficult for me to do away with by even the mildest behaviour when I come to return your visit[6] [p. 2] in New York - Our little trip to Holland[7] too was charming and I only wish I could have staid [sic] longer - and indeed if I had only gone with you to the Gallery in Ha[a]rlem I had meant to yeild [sic] many a point and be quite sweet about the pictures for after all there is "Nothing mean or modest about me!" - My dear Chace that is really quite perfect! I have never been so daintily appreciated - - and I shall insist upon the insertion of this resumé of Whistler's rare qualities in the the biography of that great painter a century or two
hence -

[p. 3] And now I must thank you again for the delicacy and kindness and good feeling you have shown about the other pictures at Graves[8]! First it was so nice and kind of you to leave it entirely to me to think out - whereas any one else might have taken the occasion of the pictures[9] being, for the time, out of my posession [sic], to obtain them simply without consulting me at all -

You will quite sympathize with me then I am sure, when I tell you that upon reflection I think I should like always to keep those things for myself - I shall [p. 4] get them again from Graves with my Carlyle The Carlyle I will sell of course - but the others are more personal - as indeed I have always meant to do - [but?] but what will you! - so many things have been going on that I scarcely [...]

Well my dear Colonel[10], you see Our two pictures the World must will have still to wait for -
We rather handicapped each other!

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [c. 1 September 1885]
Dated from W. M. Chase to JW, 3 September [1885], #00593, and references to Holland. Chase's letter may be a reply to this letter draft and the published version, #13337 (see note below).

2.  William Merritt Chase
William Merritt Chase (1849-1916), painter [more].

3.  ALd
A fuller version of this letter was published in Roof, Katharine Metcalf, The Life and Art of William Merritt Chase, New York, 1975, pp. 140-43 (see #13337).

4.   Colonel
JW's nickname for Chase.

5.  stay here
Chase had recently met JW during a brief stopover in London which turned into a longer stay, largely due to JW's suggestion that they paint each other's portraits. JW's Portrait of William M. Chase (YMSM 322) has disappeared but Chase's portrait is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

6.  return your visit
While JW declared his intention to visit America on a number of occasions the trip never materialised. However he did publish a letter in the World on 13 October 1886 indicating his proposed arrival in New York in December. He also mocked Chase's dandified portrait of him as 'a monstrous lampoon' (see Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 184-85).

7.  Holland
JW joined Chase in Holland in August where they visited Haarlem and the International Exhibition in Amsterdam.

8.  Graves
Henry Graves (1806-1892), print dealer and founder of H. Graves and Co. [more].

9.  pictures
JW still had pictures on deposit at Graves as security for loans, including Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) and Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101). It seems that JW intended to send YMSM 137 to America, perhaps with Chase as agent. On 11 October 1884, Algernon Graves wrote of it to JW: 'My father says that if you like to pay the balance (250£) due on the picture you can then ask any price you like and let it go to America.' See A. Graves to JW, #01813.

10.  Well my dear Colonel...each other!
This text is cross-written on the right of page one.