UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01723
Date: [15 January 1888][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Editor[2], Sunday Times
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G89
Document Type: ALdS[3]


BEEFSTEAK CLUB,
KING WILLIAM STREET,
STRAND, W. C.

From the Master -

Sir -

Though it is not necessary that the "Art Critic" should distinguish between the real & the "reproduction", or other wise understand anything of the matter of which he writes, in that state of life in which it has pleased God to call him, yet, as I have before now pointed out, he might enquire. -

Had the expounder of Exhibitions[4], travelling for the "Magazine of Art," asked the Secretary[5] in the Galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists, he would have been told that the "Notes"[6] on the staircase, and in the vestibule, are not "delightful sketches in Indian ink and crayon ... reproduced in marvellous facsimile by Boussod, Valadon & Co[7]" ..... though "unworthy the glories of facsimile reproduction and imposing margin" .... while "the chief honours of the portfolio, however, belong to the publishers" - but, unnerving as it may appear, simple lithographs from nature drawn on stone upon the spot -

Thus easily provided with paragraph, he would also have been spared the mortification of rebuke from his well meaning Employers -

Let the Gentleman be warned - let him [p. 2] learn that the foolish Critic[8], only, looks, and brings disaster upon his paper - the safe and well conducted one, "informs himself."

Yours, Sir, pleasantly

J McNeill Whistler -

[butterfly signature]


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Notes:

1.  Editor
Unidentified.

2.  [15 January 1888]
Date of publication in the Sunday Times.

3.  ALdS
This is a draft of a letter published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 197-8. See #13200.

4.  expounder of Exhibitions
A reference to Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more] who appears to have been the author of a recently published short review of JW's lithographs 'Engravings & Prints' (The Magazine of Art, XII, December 1887, p. xii). See also Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, p. 196. The exhibition referred to was Winter Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887-1888 to which JW sent twenty-one works, including three lithographs (see note below).

5.  Secretary
Horace Henry Cauty (1846-1909), historical and genre painter [more].

6.  Notes
Early Morning (C.9); Gaiety Stage Door (C.14) and Reading (C.17).

7.  Boussod, Valadon & Co.
Firm of art dealers who published JW's set of 'Notes' - lithographs and one lithotint including C.14 and C.17 referred to above. The other lithographs were Limehouse (C.7); Nocturne (C.8); Victoria Club (C.15) and Old Battersea Bridge (C.18). The review in the Magazine of Art was rather ambivalent as well as ill-informed: 'Mr Whistler has issued a brown paper portfolio of half a dozen "Notes", reproduced in marvellous facsimile by Boussod, Valadon & Co. These "Notes" are delightful sketches in Indian ink and crayon, masterly as far as they go - but then, they go such a little way [...] however well the indications are carried out, and however delightfully they may be drawn, the "Notes" can only be regarded as painter's raw material, interesting as correct sketches, but unworthy the glories of facsimile reproduction and imposing margin [...] The chief honours of the portfolio, however, belong to the publishers.'

8.  the foolish Critic
The contrast between the wise and the foolish is a theme of the biblical books of wisdom; see for example Proverbs 10.14, 'Wise men lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction', or Proverbs 13.20, 'He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed'.