The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02209
Date: [1/4 July 1887?][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: William Henry Hurlbert[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H305
Document Type: ALdS


Dear Mr. Hurlbert -

I know that you are the busiest man in London - and that therefore your time should be respected - but I also know that although you are deeply occupied with State affairs, you entertain a tenderness for Art - and therefore I venture to suppose that you are especially interested in the Society of British Artists[4] - of which I have the honor to be President -

This Society is one of the oldest in the land - and the only one with a Royal Charter [p. 2] second in date, only, to that of the Royal Academy -

Now as a country man of yours I am going to ask your advice - appeal to your sympathies, while I ask so abruptly for advice - *[5]

I am then greatly interested absorbed in the welfare and state of the body that has chosen me for their leader - and it seems to me that on this occasion of the Jubilee Year it is becoming that the Society of British [Artists] recall itself to the knowledge considerations of Their their Sovereign[6] Her Majesty and propose itself as a candidate for her gracious distinction

It is our wish to receive be empowered from her Majesty the Title of "Royal" Society[7] - *[8]

for who so cunning in council [sic] as yourself - to whom all councils are open - to who so wise to advise as you


And you who to whom all councils are opened, and through whose right hand throbs the circulation of the World will give it

and no more cunning council [sic] than yours is hearkened to

[p. 3] 'To Hurlbert re RBA[9]'

[p. 4] * You see that I have the wit of my temerity & know to whom I am coming -
fFor who so cunning council as yourself & to whom all councils are open - and who hold all the situations of Europe & America in the palm of your hand! -

I am

* as a spe an indication of her especial favour and our loyalty - and I feel sure that if thro' the proper channel, our claims or ambitions be laid before the Queen, she will deign to entertain them - and among the Royal courtesies & privileges, at this moment, daily dispensed, the grant to the S. B. A, would certainly not be witheld [sic] -

Help me here with your guidance - point out to me those through whom this matter may be 'activated', for above all am I anxious that it should be accomplished rapidly & before my visit to America[10] - which you know is impending -

How will you forgive me for inflicting so much writing upon you! Recieve [sic] in any case my sincere thanks before hand

& believe me always
Very faithfully Yrs

J McNeill Whistler -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [1/4 July 1887?]
This must predate any other letters from Hurlbert to JW about the Society of British Artists, such as his letter of 5 July [1887] (#02211).

2.  William Henry Hurlbert
William Henry Hurlbert (1827-1895), journalist and author, editor-in-chief of the New York World from 1876-1883 [more].

The printed address is embossed.

4.  Society of British Artists
JW took office as President of the SBA in December 1886.

5.  advice - *
This paragraph appears to be completed by the first paragraph on page four, "You see..." (linked by asterisk).

6.  their Sovereign
Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of Great Britain [more]. The fiftieth Jubilee of her reign was celebrated widely, and many societies seized the opportunity to congratulate her.

7.  Title of 'Royal' Society
After the presentation of a congratulatory Address, and supplicatory Memorial, the Society was indeed granted the title of 'Royal'. Hurlbert helped negotiations to run smoothly.

8.  - *
This paragraph appears to be completed by the second main paragraph on page four, "as an indication" (linked by asterisk).

9.  To Hurlbert re RBA
Written in another hand, possibly that of Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

10.  my visit to America
A lecture tour that never materialised.