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

the on-line edition

System Number: 03182
Date: 9 January 1893
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Edwin Austin Abbey[1]
Place: [Gloucestershire]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler LB 4/231/2-233/1
Document Type: MsLc[2]

110. Rue du Bac.

Jan. 9. 1893.

My dear Abbey -

After receiving your letter and the printed circular, I took "serious steps" to get the Chicago matter[3] started, as far as some of the pictures near at hand were concerned -

I sent one of the circulars to Mr Reid[4] of Glasgow who owns three full lengths of mine & who had promised to lend them - He wrote at once to Bourlet[5], and has received the following most astonishing reply:

"Dear Sir - In reply to your favour we have not yet got our instructions for Chicago (!) but refer you to Mr McClure Hamilton[6] Alpha House." -

Now on the circular it was stated that all works should be delivered to Messrs Bourlet by the 16th of this[7] month! - and here we are the 9th and Bourlet is still without instructions - What is to be done - for with me this is only the beginning as a lot more pictures are promised [p. 2] and were to go to Bourlet -

With the McClure Hamilton man I refuse to have anything whatever to do - He is a shocking creature altogether - a low intriguing base person - in every way ridiculous - which would only concern himself it is true, only that curiously enough he was especially occupied in plotting with that scoundrel Sheridan Ford[8] the "Pirate" who stole the "Gentle Art"[9] with a view to spurious and garbled publication - When I tell you that the first edition was to be dedicated to this McClure as a return for his housing and helping and comforting that villainous tramp while together they were hatching their filthy plot - indeed when I show you as I can, his foolish and obscure name on the front page of the proof ready for printing! - you will easily understand how hopeless it would be for Mr Hamilton to attempt any official communications with me - Moreover as you have doubtless already supposed Mr McClure has no illusions as to my opinion of him! that matter having been completely exhausted in a letter[10] to himself that left nothing to be desired! -

Can't you give orders to Bourlet to receive all works of mine, and insure them and send them to Chicago without further instructions? Of course all the owners have been told that their pictures would be insured and finally returned to them without cost of any kind - All this I know my dear Abbey must be an awful bore and I am sorry indeed to give you any trouble - Can you suggest any other way?

I was in London the other day, and would have gone down to see you - but the horrible weather and desperate fog filled me with despair and I hurried away! - My pilgrimage to Fairford would have been especially to thank you & Sargent[11] for all your kind and flattering offices in the affair of the Boston Library[12] - you have both been charming to me! - and Sargent's journey taken on my behalf [p. 3] filled me with admiration & affectionate gratitude - I tried to tell him how deeply I felt what he had done, but my words were a poor acknowledgem[ent] of such rare & noble camaraderie -

My best wishes to you all for this New Year! -
Always yours

J. McN. Whistler -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Edwin Austin Abbey
Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911), painter and illustrator [more].

2.  MsLc
This is a copy made by Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].

3.  Chicago matter
A reference to World's Columbian Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1893 for which Abbey was negotiating loans with JW (see E. A. Abbey to JW, #00001; JW to Abbey, #03182; #03183).

4.  Mr Reid
Alexander Reid (1854-1936), Glasgow dealer [more]. He was lending La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (YMSM 50), Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181) and Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242).

5.  Bourlet
James Bourlet (b. ca 1852), art dealer, of Bourlet and Sons, Ltd [more].

6.  Mr McClure Hamilton
John McClure Hamilton (1853-1936), artist [more].

7.  the 16th of this
'the 16th of this' is double underlined.

8.  Sheridan Ford
Sheridan Ford (1860-1922), poet, critic, politician and writer on art [more].

9.  Gentle Art
JW quarrelled with Ford, his original collaborator on The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, when he tried to pay him off and delay publication. Ford's reaction was to publish his own 'unauthorised' edition during the spring of 1890. Lewis and JW attempted to stop the publication but only with limited success. See Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890, and Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, ed. Sheridan Ford, Paris, 1890, for comparison of the two editions.

10.  letter
Perhaps JW to J. McClure Hamilton, letter dated 28 March 1890, #01950.

11.  Sargent
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), artist [more].

12.  Boston Library
In 1891, through Sargent and Abbey, JW was invited to submit plans for three decorative panels (Study for three decorative panels representing 'The Landing of Columbus', 'Queen Isabel la Catôlica of Spain', and 'Queen Elizabeth of England' for Boston Public Library, Massachusetts (M.1356)). A contract was drawn up in 1894. However, in 1895, the Library Trustees were obliged to withdraw their offer due to lack of funds.