The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 01843
Date: [11 August 1887][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: [Henry Matthews][2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G208
Document Type: MsLd[3]


It will doubtless have been brought to your knowledge that I lost no time after my return to London, in calling upon you to thank you personally & in the name of the Royal Society of B A for your exceeding kindness and consideration shewn to the Society in the matter of our Memorial to Her Majesty[4].

Aware as I am of the great pressure of official duties upon your time I have abstained from adding unnecessarily to that pressure by a second visit. And but I have now the pleasure of informing you that at a Special assembly of the Society last night held Her Majesty's most gracious condescending & favourable response received through you was laid before the members together with Her royal gracious commands that the Society be henceforth Styled & known as the Royal Society of British Artists. And it is now my agreeable privilege Sir, to offer to you thus formally in offering you the deep cordial & sincere thanks of the Society to ask that you will enhance the obligations already laid upon us by conveying at such time in such manner as may seem to you opportune to Her Most Gracious Majesty [p. 2] the profound and sincere gratitude of all the members of the Society for the signal mark she has deigned to give us of her royal interest and goodwill. And to I beg you Sir assure Her Majesty in our behalf that no efforts will ever be spared by us & by our successors to serve and advance those best interests of British Art which throughout Her Majestys long & glorious reign have found in Her steadily prospered and made progress under Her enlightened patronage & protection.

And I am
Your most Obt

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1.  [11 August 1887]
Dated by reference to RBA meeting of 10 August 1887 as 'last night' (see below).

2.  Henry Matthews
Rt Hon. Henry Matthews (1868-1874), QC, MP, Home Secretary [more].

3.  MsLd
Probably written by William Henry Hurlbert (1827-1895), journalist and author, editor-in-chief of the New York World from 1876-1883 [more]. This is one of two drafts (#01841) and a copy (#01842) of JW's letter.

4.  Memorial to Her Majesty
On 27 July JW attended the Jubilee Naval Review at Spithead. He made a set of twelve etchings, the 'Naval Review set', (K. 316-331) that was presented to Queen Victoria in a specially designed album (see M.1132-3, 1138-45). Whistler then sent an illuminated Memorial to the Queen requesting that the Society be called 'Royal'. The SBA received a Royal Charter, thus becoming the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA). JW announced the new title to the Society on 10 August 1887 (JW, 9 August 1900, quoted by Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, pp. 65-67: RBA Minutes).