UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02352
Date: 19 July [1899][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: John Lavery[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler I92
Document Type: MsLd[3]


To The Vice President & Committee -

Gentlemen -

I regret I shall be unable to attend the next committee meeting, as my doctor wishes me to leave town[4] -

The members of the Committee seemed to be sanguine the other evening, as to the success of their last scheme for averting the danger with which the Society is threatened.

I trust the plan may succeed - But the temporary calm that may momentarily follow narrow escape, must not be allowed to take the place of absolute security, and I feel it my duty to call the attention of the Committee to the consequences upon us of these amateur proceedings in the financial and business management of the Society, and I doubt if the serious nature of these same consequences have been as yet fully grasped -

To begin with Gentlemen, I as your President, had officially accepted from the Committee [p. 2] the fact that last year's deficit amounted to the not immoderate sum, for a first venture of about £300 - and further, officially, myself participate[d] in the raising of money under such representations, by the presence of my name at the head of the list of the Council and officially myself allow such representation for the purpose of raising funds -

Further, upon such understanding, guarantors[5] have come forward, with greater readiness probably than would have been theirs, had they been told, as I was yesterday, at the table, that £300 took the place of £900!

Now, Gentlemen, this is all very simple and naifs [sic], and possibly sufficient for myself and my distinguished confrères - but on sudden reflection might not suffice, for the less imaginative sympathy of the financier! - We ourselves evidently confess it, hence this distraught and hysterical attempt to acquire outer [sic] means, that the truth may escape him -

For Gentlemen it is evident to our own dignity that whereas, we might have approached, without unseemly strain, those who have helped us, with the acknowledgement that again this year, the sum of £300 required fatally to be covered and on their part [p. 3] every readiness to continue their pleasing position of Art patron for which they had prepared themselves at such a rate -

Very different indeed are we all aware will would be the effect upon the financial mind of the £800 or £900. deficit -

What then would be their further opinion when upon their obstinate investigation it were discovered that the discrepancy was not so much in the preposterous difference between the first and second year, as in the £300 represented on the circulars and the £900 in the books -

Such Gentlemen is the my impression of the grave situation into which the Society from want of technical counsel has drifted - and however overwrought it may be or however it may be modified by detailed explanations I would maintain that these explanations themselves are of a weariness that we might escape and should do without - being unpalatable to the artist whose sense of appreciation should be sufficient to save him from attempting the work of those who should protect him

thereby

Gentlemen however brilliant be our intelligence, it is grievous that we should exercise it to the detriment of our work, harrassing [sic] ourselves with responsibilities while those whose daily habits & profession [p. 4] it is to deal with these matters should be there to protect us - It is not sufficient that as in the present crisis we come abruptly upon a deficit of £800 or £900 and accept as final the overwhelming fact with its disastrous consequences complications

Analysis is absolutely necessary[,] each point should be met with investigation & question & step by step battle should be done with the enemy to whose charges it would seem we are expected to succomb without [comment?]

In this spirit of reflection

The demand itself of £1500 guarantee might have been met with proper derision by professional experience - for In this spirit of reflection

& I have, Gentlemen, the honour to be your obedient servant

(signed for) J McNeill Whistler -

E Whibley

July 19 -


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Notes:

1.  19 July [1899]
Year dated from context of International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers (see below).

2.  John Lavery
John Lavery (1856-1941), painter [more], was the Vice-President of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers. The first exhibition of the society was the Exhibition of International Art, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, London, 1898.

3.  MsLd
Written and signed in the hand of Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more], except the opening 'To The Vice ... Gentlemen', and a single line on p. 3, 'Gentlemen however brilliant be our', written by JW.

4.  leave town
JW convalesced from illness in Pourville-sur-Mer on the northern coast of France from July to October 1899.

5.  guarantors
Including Wynford Dewhurst (1864-1941), landscape painter and writer [more] (see also #02321, #02327, #02355).