System Number: 01448
Date: 27 September 1888
Author: Mary Bacon Ford
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler F380
Document Type: ALS/AD
29 Berners St - Oxford St. W.
Sept 27 - 1888:
Oh - you Party of the Second Part :
I rather looked for a letter from you this morning in answer to mine of Monday - but none has yet come:
I enclose you herewith the proposed contract - for reasons which I will explain later in my letter: (Behold that its vitals are merely sketched in with pencil) -
Beginning to read it - with Mrs Whistler's help - you will first find that Paragraph 2 covers about all any mortal can do - but this does not mean that you must do all these things unless you choose - Paragraph 3 states briefly in return what we would do for you - Paragraph 4 - a long one - goes into details as to your doings - namely 1st date of sailing (any date you choose) - 2nd details as to Etchings - that they be called Whistler's American Etchings - that you make 60 plates - (if agreeable) divided say into 5 sets of 12 each (each set to have a different name as for instance the New Orleans set etc etc) - with 150 proofs from each plate - (if feasible) - other & further reproduction to be made only on mutual agreement - 3rd that the plates become our property - 4th that our rights in paintings pastels and their reproduction extend for 2 yrs - 5th that you hold an Exhibition or Exhibitions (shortly before leaving America) - of the works produced there and those brought there (mentioning the most important of these latter): 6th that (shortly before leaving America) you deliver an Art Talk under the same favorable conditions that the 10 O'Clock was delivered here - if you care to - 7th that an Exhibition of these American Etchings - Paintings etc be held here next spring - and that such Ex - and any others of the American work likewise held anywhere for two years after the expiration of this contract (this date being the date of your return to England) - shall be subject to the terms of this contract - unless we mutually agree otherwise - Paragraph 5 goes on to say that you will remain in America 4 months (which is merely nominal) - that you will work in harmony with our suggestions - and that for 2 years after the expiration of this contract you will not return to America for any of these purposes - unless mutually agreed upon: Paragraph 6 reiterates again what we will do - briefly - Paragraph 7 states that we will keep accounts of all money matters - that we will advance all moneys for your expenses - $12.50 per diem being allowed for this - any amount in excess of which to be charged to you - that fair amounts will be advanced to you from time to time - that we advance money likewise for all the other expenses of the visit - Paragraph 8 says [p. 2] that after deducting the expenses from the gross amount received - that we pay you 40% of the remainder - Paragraph 9 that all books - vouchers - accounts will be open to your inspection at any time - and Paragraph 10 that in the event of a difference of opinion that we may seek such and such means of readjustment -
So much for the Contract:
Now listen: The position Mr Ford & I are in today is simply this - The six gentlemen in N. Y. who have put up the money for this matter are Messrs Allen - Hawkesworth - Henderson - Clarke - Harriman and Martin - all delightful fellows - The whole thing was started owing to their faith in Mr Ford & myself - backed by your cable of June 21st: Our honor and our future are wound up in this affair - If conjointly we (Mr & Mrs Whistler & Mr & Mrs Ford) make a success of it - then any further amount of money will be put up toward Mr Ford & myself opening a picture shop here - starting a paper here - or doing pretty much anything we please in the Art world - and we have given ourselves over to such work - and it has already cost us - almost our lives -
It is ten weeks since we sailed from New York for the purpose before us - Arriving in London - we - on our side gave little heed to the report of your intended marriage - had no idea that you were going to leave London - felt a delicacy after the event in hurling business matters after you - in lieu of slippers and rice - were distinctly told by Mr Lewis that he could do nothing until your return - were obliged to communicate upon various points with our N. Y. men - had no idea but that when you did return to London that you were going to remain - were called to Scotland for consultation in some Art matter expecting to be gone four or five days - leaving word that any communication from you upon your return should at once be forwarded - which would have brought us post haste to London:
You on your part probably did not know that there was any pressure of time in this matter - or that the confirmation of our statements to the N. Y. men can only be made tangible to them by the signing of the contract - and the possession of that contract by themselves -
The delays - which we can explain to ourselves - they can no longer understand - and the result today is that not only are Mr Ford & myself placed personally in a most [p. 3] embarassing [sic] situation - but the structure of the whole enterprise is in danger of tottering to the ground - We are holding it together - bravely -
Under the circumstances we can but lay the facts before you - and ask your cooperation and help -
Personally we can demand no more funds from N. Y. until the contract is signed and we are therefore practically cut off from supplies - But further than this our word and the whole enterprise is in serious danger - A cable from headquarters received yesterday read as follows : "Unless contract is signed and mailed by Umbria September 29th - matter will be abandoned and moneys withdrawn - "
This is why I send you the contract - This is why if it is not signed by above date - the clouds and rain will descend upon us - Of course it is impossible I'm afraid for the contract to be signed and returned in time for mailing Saturday evening - but if it is signed so that on Saturday we can cable "Contract signed etc" - all will yet be well - If you will sign and so telegraph us - mailing the document at same time - we can explain to them our default in catching the Umbria mail -
I can readily understand that you may have objections to signing this document without seeing Mr Lewis - But what else under the circumstances can be done - On this point I can only earnestly and faithfully guarantee you that the contract is fair and open - that we will always stand between you & the N. Y. men and see that you carry the day - that our desire and intention is to manage and arrange everything in accordance with your views - that the constant occurence [sic] in the contract of the words - "unless otherwise mutually agreed upon" allows of any necessary modifications - that on a rough estimate you will bring back with you between £4000 - & £5000 - (that sum continuing to increase) and that if £100 - would be of any use to you at the moment on account it is at your disposal after your name is writ and the fact conveyed to N. Y.
You may trust us - if you will - : We shall bear the honor unflinchingly -
The matter rests with you - Mr Ford & I - one or both - are ready to leave at a moment's notice [p. 4] for Tours - if anything could be gained thereby - But what could? Here is our word of hand which is as frank and living as our word of mouth - And Tours is far -
Mary: Bacon: Ford:
[separate document:] (p. 1) This Agreement  made and concluded this day of September - 1888 - between Sheridan & Mary Bacon Ford of the City of New York - United States of America - parties of the first part - and J. McNeil [sic] Whistler - of the city of London - England - party of the second part
That Whereas the said J. McNeil Whistler is graciously disposed to make a visit to the United States for the purpose of making a set or sets of American Etchings - painting - painting Portraits - decorating - holding an Exhibition of his Works - and delivering a talk upon Art conditions in America - etc - etc
And Whereas - the said Sheridan & Mary Bacon Ford will agree to assume the management of such a visit - and attend to all the business and practical details thereof - such as engaging apartments and studios - attending to travelling arrangements - making provision for the sale of Etchings and Paintings - obtaining subscriptions fro [sic] the Etchings or otherwise both in America and elsewhere - such as arranging for sitters - settling upon the times and (p. 2) places for the Exhibition of Pictures - and the delivery of the Art Talk and all the details connected therewith - and will advance the moneys requisite for these purposes -
Now Therefore the said J. McNeil Whistler in consideration of the sum of One Pound Sterling - to him in hand paid - and for other good and valuable consideration - doth hereby covenant and agree to and with the said Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford to go to the United States under the business management of the said Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford and to leave England for the United States on or before the day of 1888 and there to make a set or sets of Etchings upon American subjects to be called Whistler's American Etchings - it being understood and agreed that the said J. McNeil Whistler shall at least make 60 Etch
ingsed Plates (to be divided into 5 sets of 12 etchings each) and as many reproductions thereof up to 150 each as the said Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford may desire - other and further reproduction to be made only on mutual agreement - it being also further understood and agreed that all Etched Plates which shall be made by said J. McNeil Whistler during the duration of this contract and all reproductions thereof at any time shall be subject to all the terms and conditions herein contained as to the application of moneys received hereunder - the same to obtain of all Paintings (other than Portraits paid for by sitters) painted in America and sold or repro-(p. 3)duced anywhere within 2years after the expiration of this contract unless otherwise mutually agreed upon - and also there to hold an Exhibition or Exhibitions of his Etchings - Paintings - and Portraits - including those made in America and those conveyed there in number about and containing Carlyle - Sarasate - Lady Campbell? etc. etc. at such times and places and of such duration as they may deem best and desirable - and also to deliver a Talk upon Art as many times and at such times and places as they may deem best and advisable - and also to paint any Portraits, or decorate any rooms or dwellings that he may elect - it being also further understood and agreed that an Exhibition of Whistler's American Etchings - Paintings etc - be held in London in the spring of '89 - and that such Exhibition - or Exhibitions anywhere - for the space of 2 years after the termination of this Contract shall be subject to all the terms and conditions herein contained - unless otherwise mutually agreed upon -
paragraph 5 -
And the said J. McNeil Whistler further agrees to and with the said Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford that he will remain and stay in the United States for the period of at least 4 calendar months from the date of his arrival in New York should the said Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford so elect - and that during that time he will hold himself amenable to their desires in regard to Etching - Painting - Exhibiting his Etchings and Paintings - delivering his Art Talk - etc - (p. 4) etc - so far as the same are conformable to the terms of this Agreement - it being understood and agreed that for the space of 2 years after the termination of this contract the said J. McNeil Whistler will make no arrangements or agreements with any person or persons - corporation or corporations for any of the purposes herein expressed or that may give them any of the benefits that may accrue hereunder - nor will he for his own account for the space of 2 years after the termination of this contract visit the United States for any of the purposes herein expressed - nor otherwise do or cause to be done any of the things herein and hereunder agreed to be done by him - except and otherwise than as herein agreed upon -
And the said Sheridan & Mary Bacon Ford do hereby covenant and agree with the said J. McNeil Whistler that they will assume the entire charge and business management of the affairs of the said J. McNeil Whistler connected with a visit to the United States as aforesaid - That they will engage and hire ap
partments and studios - & attend to all travelling arrangements - That they will decide upon the best means for selling the Etchings to be made upon American Subjects as aforesaid so as to realize the best prices for the same - both in America and elsewhere - That they will arrange for sitters - engage and hire all halls and other places necessary for the Exhibiting of his Etchings and Paintings and for the delivery of his Art Talk - That they will attend to all transportation of Pictures and (p. 5) all necessary advertising and making known of said Exhibitions and Art Talk - and in every way use their best endeavor to make successful the visit of the said J. McNeil Whistler to the United States - both pecuniarily and otherwise - in all matters consulting the said J. McNeil Whistler's wishes and desires -
paragraph 7 -
That they will attend to all the expenditures connected with the visit of the said J. McNeil Whistler to the United States - keeping true and accurate accounts of all moneys received from the Exhibition or Exhibitions proposed to be held - from the sale of Etchings - of Paintings - of Portraits - from Art Talks - decorating - etc - it being mutually understood and agreed that the said Sheridan & Mary Bacon Ford shall advance all moneys required to meet all the expenses involved in the said visit of the said J. McNeil Whistler to the United States for the purposes herein above mentioned - which shall include the travelling and living expenses of the said J. McNeil Whistler to and from the United States and during his stay therein - said expenses to be rated as £2.10 sper diem - and any amount in excess of which to be charged against said J. McNeil Whistler - as also whatever fair amounts he may wish advanced to him from time to time - the expenses of taking to the United States the collection of Etchings and Paintings to be there exhibited and the expense of returning the same and the insurance (p. 6) thereon - the leasing of halls and other places for the purpose of Exhibitions and Art Talks - the mechanical cost of Etchings - and all incidentals immediately connected with the objects and purposes for which the said J. McNeil Whistler agrees with the said Sheridan & Mary Bacon Ford to visit the United States as aforesaid -
And the said Sheridan & Mary Bacon Ford further agree that all moneys received by them from any of the sources above mentioned shall be applied
First: to the payment of all expenses of any kind whatsoever incurred in connection with the said visit of the said J. McNeil Whistler:
Second that after the payment of all such expenses and advances as are herein provided for the said Sheridan & Mary Bacon Ford agree to and with the said J. McNeil Whistler to pay over to him Forty per cent of all and any such sum or sums as may remain in their hands by way of profits -
And the said Sheridan & Mary Bacon Ford agree to allow the said J. McNeil Whistler to examine at any time upon his request in writing the books and vouchers pertaining to all expenses incurred by them in connection with his proposed visit to the United States - and the statement of all moneys received from any of the sources herein above mentioned -
It is mutually covenanted and agreed by and between the parties hereto that any and (p. 7) all questions arising touching the contract or the performance thereof shall be referred to three competent and disinterested persons as arbitrators - one to be selected by each of the parties hereto and the persons so selected to choose a third before the question in dispute has been submitted to them - and the award and decision of any two of the said persons so selected shall be binding and conclusive upon the respective parties hereto -
In Witness Whereof the parties hereto have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year first above written
[reverse of p. 7] 'Sheridan Ford
29 Berners St
[sketches of doors and windows]
3. 10 O'Clock
See Whistler, James McNeill, Mr. Whistler's 'Ten O'Clock.', London, 1885.
Probably Frederick Hovey Allen (1845-1926), congressional minister and writer on art [more] (see his version of events concerning the Fords' contract, #00144). The other names are Hawkesworth, a member of Sheridan and M. B. Fords' syndicate; Henderson, an associate of Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford; Clarke, associate of Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford; Harriman, an associate of Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford; and Martin, an associate of Sheridan and Mary Bacon Ford.
7. [p. 3]
This page is numbered '2' in top left corner, although it is actually the third side of text.
8. (p. 1)
The contract is a separate document from the covering letter, with pages numbered from 1-7 (adopted here).
10. paragraph 2 ... paragraph 10
The note of each paragraph appears in the left-hand margin, in pencil. The deletions and additions in paragraphs 4, 5, 7 and 8 are also made by another hand, in pencil.
11. Sheridan Ford ... W.
Written on verso of page 7, in another hand, in pencil.