UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01504
Date: 6 May 1892
Author: Charles Lang Freer[1]
Place: Detroit
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler F436
Document Type: ALS


77 Alfred St.
Detroit. Mich -

'May 6th 1892.'[3]

My dear Mrs. Whistler.

Owing to an absence of several weeks from home, your valued letter of March, 19th[4] written at Paris, did not reach me until about ten days ago, since then, I have visited New York and Chicago and at each place I have made careful inquiry of the persons I met who were likely to know about the commission rumored to be offered to Mr Whistler to paint a picture to commorate commemorate the Chicago Exhibition[5] &c. but thus far I have failed to learn of any decisive action having been taken -

On May 16th, one week from Monday next, a convention of american artists and art lovers is to be held in Washington for the purpose of organizing a National Art Association -

The desire being to remove the duty on art, to organize a Government Commission of Art and Architecture, and to make true art more accessible to the masses -

This convention promises to be attended by nearly all of the prominent collectors and amateurs of this country -

[p. 2] While at the convention I shall learn all that I can concerning the facts of the talked of commission to Mr Whistler, and if anything of note is brought out or developed in the matter, I will write you promptly and fully -

I heartily wish that such a work might be undertaken by Mr Whistler for it would stand [as] a lasting monument of the best art of this century - may I add of any century? - commemorating an event of the utmost consequence to the American people and furnishing inspiration in the years to come to countless thousands who are destined to study Art for its real value and enjoy collections of Art in this country second to none in existence -

The coming years will see extraordinary sums of American money spent for Art - The question of the day should be: what steps shall be taken to properly start a movement of such great educational and social importance -

How unfortunate that discrimination in such matters is so rare!

The beautiful lot of Lithographs give me increasing pleasure - I am particularly interested in the single single figures - the charming old bridge over the Thames[6] - the interior [p. 3] of the blacksmith shop[7] and the outdoor scene of the tea party[8], but it is very hard to choose when all are so beautiful -

May I soon expect the colored Lithographs[9] and the Venice Etchings[10]?

Is Mr Whistler doing any work in pastel this spring? I must have another some day to hang beside the extraordinary one[11] I brought home with me two years ago - It is what we americans call "great" - Also some day, I hope to have another water color - a companion for the Liverpool[12] from the Wunderlich Exhibition[13] - possibly I might be favored with a springtime landscape, showing the first flush and delicate tones of early spring[14], the new life, a resurrection thought you know - or perhaps this idea might be beautifully translated in a single figure in pastel - perhaps the same thought for each of the pictures, different of course in treatment as well as medium?

I have read many notices of Mr Whistler's London Exhibition[15] and am glad to know that it has been genuinely successful in the best way - Can you tell me how to secure a copy of the catalogue?

My sister[16] bids me thank you for your kind remembrance and congratulations -

With kindest regards to yourself and Mr. Whistler, I am,
Sincerely yours,

Charles L. Freer

May 6 / 1892


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Notes:

1.  Charles Lang Freer
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more]. Published in Merrill, Linda, With Kindest Regards. The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler, 1890-1903, Washington and London, 1995, no. 12, pp. 86-87.

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

3.  'May 6th 1892.'
Date added by Beatrix Whistler, in pencil.

4.  March, 19th
#11670.

5.  Chicago Exhibition
World's Columbian Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1893. JW exhibited six oils at the exhibition but did not paint a commemorative picture.

6.  bridge over the Thames
Old Battersea Bridge, No. 2 (C.13).

7.  blacksmith shop
The Farriers (C.27) or The Tyresmith (C.36).

8.  tea party
The Garden (C.40).

9.  colored Lithographs
JW had been working on Figure Study in Colors (C.39).

10.  Venice Etchings
Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice, 1880 (the first 'Venice Set') (K. 183-189, 191-195). (excat 5) or A Set of twenty-six etchings of Venice, 1886 (the second 'Venice set') (K.196-216, 233-237). (excat 6).

11.  one
Not identified.

12.  Liverpool
Grey and Silver - Liverpool (M.913).

13.  Wunderlich Exhibition
'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', H. Wunderlich and Co., New York, 1889.

14.  spring
See Spring (M.1397).

15.  London Exhibition
JW's retrospective exhibition Nocturnes, Marines and Chevalet Pieces, Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Goupil Gallery, London, 1892.

16.  sister
Emma Frances ('Frank') Freer (1845-1915), sister of C. L. Freer [more].