The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 02789
Date: 29 July 1878
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Charles Augustus Howell[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler LB 11/67
Document Type: ALS[2]

[circular stamp with motif of crown over shield between roses:] 'CC / 1 / 30 / 7 / 78 / SIX PENCE'


Dear Howell -

I am too seedy to dine with you today and think it better to send you this at once, in case Mr Graves[4] were to turn up -

I have thought over every detail of your proposal - and cannot undertake the painting for less than a thousand guineas - To any one else, including copyright, I shall demand two thousand -

I propose to paint it as a pendant in size to the Carlyle[5] - a seated figure in appropriate attitude - with ribbon and order of the Garter showing - [p. 2] treating the work from the point of view of its being engraved -

As you know, Lord Beaconsfield[6] is really tired and worn with work - a fact which places me entirely at his mercy respecting the sittings - that is, I shall have to keep myself in readiness to suit not only his need for rest but the constant official calls upon his time - I may also add that for the last four months he has persistently refused to sit to anyone - and had determined not to do so again -

Let me have a line as soon as you think this out - as I am planning my work for my new Studios[7] -

Ever Yours

J A McN. Whistler

The White House -
Tite Street - Chelsea Embankment -

29. July. 1878

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Charles Augustus Howell
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

2.  ALS
The letter was stuck in the first of two albums of documents by Howell (see #02788). It bears a special delivery postmark.

3.  '6d'
Added in another hand in pencil.

4.  Mr Graves
Messrs H. Graves and Co. agreed to give JW £1000 for a portrait of Disraeli and the copyright (Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, I, p. 227).

5.  Carlyle
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137).

6.  Lord Beaconsfield
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1882), Prime Minister of Great Britain [more]. On 19 September 1878 A. S. Cole recorded that JW had visited Disraeli at Hughenden but he 'declined'. JW remembered the visit: ' "If I sit to any one, it will be to you, Mr. Whistler" were Disraeli's last words as he left me at the gate. And then he sat to Millais!' (Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, I, p. 227).

7.  new Studios
JW had just moved into the White House.