UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01650
Date: 7 February 1878
Author: Louis Gonse[1]
Place: Paris
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G16
Document Type: ALS


GAZETTE DES BEAUX-ARTS
COURRIER EUROPÉEN DE L'ART & DE LA CURIOSITÉ
CHRONIQUE DES ARTS / ET / DE LA CURIOSITÉ
SOCIÉTÉ FRANÇAISE DE GRAVURE

8, RUE FAVART, 8
PARIS,

LE 7 février 1878

Monsieur,

Grand admirateur moi-même de votre remarquable talent de peintre et d'aqua-fortiste, je serais dans l'intention de demander à l'un de mes collaborateurs un travail sur votre oeuvre pour la Gazette des Beaux-Arts. Si cette idée vous agréait je vous demanderais de me mettre dans la possibilité d'avoir sur la matière tous les renseignements desirables, soit en m'indiquant à Paris un amateur qui possède votre oeuvre gravé, soit en m'envoyant en communication[2] [p. 2] une série d'épreuves de vos principaux travaux. Je vous demanderais ensuite pour l'illustration de l'article de vouloir bien nous aider un peu; j'entends par là de pouvoir donner dans le texte un ou deux facsimile héliographiques et un peu réduits d'eaux-fortes et de mettre sous les yeux de notre public une eau-forte originale[3] (faite si possible à cette intention). C'est ainsi que nous avons procédé lorsque nous avons fait des études sur Legros, Seymour-Haden, Méryon, Edwards et Eversched[4]. Il est bien certain que pour faire un bon plat il faut une sauce et pour parler d'un artiste il faut en donner [p. 3] au moins un spécimen de son talent.

Je vous soumets mon projet pour ce qu'il vaut. S'il vous semble pouvoir avoir une suite, je vous serai obligé de me dire dans quelle mesure il vous serait possible de nous en faciliter l'exécution

Veuillez agréer, Monsieur, l'expression de mes meilleurs sentiments
Le Directeur de la Gazette des Beaux-Arts

Louis Gonse


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

7 February 1878

Dear Sir

As a great admirer of your remarkable talent as a painter and etcher, I should like to ask one of my collaborators for a study on your work for the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. If you are in favour of this idea I would ask you to give me as much access as possible to all the significant information on the subject, whether by giving me the name of an amateur who possesses your engravings, or by sending me as a communication [?] - [p. 2] a series of proofs of your principal works. I would then ask you to be so kind as to help us a little with the illustration of the article, by which I mean being able in the text to give one or two copies of etchings that have been heliographed and a little reduced and to give our public a sight of an original etching (if possible made for this purpose). This is what we did when doing studies of Legros, Seymour-Haden, Meryon, Edwards and Eversched. It is certain that a sauce is necessary to make a good dish and to talk about an artist one should give at least [p. 3] one example of his talent.

I submit this project to you for what it is worth. If you feel it could be pursued, I should be obliged if you would tell me to what extent it would be possible for you to assist us with carrying it out.

Yours faithfully
Director of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts

Louis Gonse


Notes:

1.  Louis Gonse
Louis Gonse (1846-1921), writer and art critic, director of the Gazette des Beaux-Arts [more]. Gonse wrote again on 12 June, and this letter plus JW's reply, in which he claimed that he could not afford to be published in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, were published as 'The Opportunity Neglected', in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890, pp. 181-83 (see JW's later comment in a letter to Simpson, #05452).

2.  en communication
Double underlined.

3.  eau-forte originale
It was not until 1881 that an original etching by JW appeared in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts. Alderney Street (K.238) was steel-faced, and printed by Cadart for Duret, Théodore, 'James Whistler,' Gazette des Beaux-arts, vol. 23, April 1881, pp. 365-69.

4.  Legros, Seymour-Haden, Méryon, Edwards et Eversched
It was hardly tactful of Gonse to admit that JW came after these artists. Charles Méryon (1821-1868), etcher [more], was first, with an article by Philippe Burty (1830-1890), critic [more], 'L'oeuvre de C. Méryon', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1863, vol. 14, pp. 519-33; and vol. 15, pp.75-88. Burty wrote also about Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more] (1864, vol. 17, pp. 271-87, 35-366). Edwin Edwards (1823-1879), lawyer, painter and etcher [more], figures in an article in 1868, II, pp. 72, 275-76. Finally Dr Arthur Evershed (1836-1919), physician, landscape painter and etcher [more], was represented in 1876, II, pp. 438 ff, with two original etchings. Also mentioned is Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more].