The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 03190
Date: 10 February 1901
Author: JW
Place: Ajaccio
Recipient: Charles Lang Freer[1]
Place: [Detroit]
Repository: Freer Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Call Number: FGA Whistler 46
Credit Line: Charles Lang Freer Papers, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.: Gift of the Estate of Charles Lang Freer
Document Type: ALS[2]


Feb. 10. 1901.

Dear Mr Freer -

You will be amused to find me calmly writing from Bonaparte's[3] Island! -

Happily you know that it is not my way to seek my effects in the glories of others! - Still "Napoleon and I" ..... Enfin! -

Curiously enough you speak of this health of mine - and it is in its supposed interest that I am away from my work shops - and have wandered so far seeking sun & warmth! -

We were neither [p. 2] of us very well when last together in town - and I am glad to know that your voyage has restored you completely - For myself the doctor refused all medicine! "You want no drugs" he said, "a trip at sea - and the rest that you never take in your affair!" - and for two months I have been attempting this rest! - Upon my word I don't think I manage it well - and I wish I had gone with you to Detroit! - I shall know better another time!

I am delighted to hear that the little Lady Sophie[4] has been behaving so well in her new country! -

And now it is time to think about the exhibition in Paris we talked over together - I should like then the pastels and the water colour figures - The Bognor[5] - & the Lady Sophie - & La Cigale[6] -

The "Southampton[7]" Harbour - (not Portsmouth) has already been exhibited in Europe -

Now I want much to make a beautiful show of the etchings - & if you can send me a chosen set of your proofs of course it will be perfect -

The lithographs I think I have, or can borrow in England -

I shall write Mrs Gardner[8] for some of her pictures - & pastels - and also to Mansfield[9] -

Among your dry points, you have a fine proof have you not? of Annie Haden[10]? - I mean the large full length in the cloak and hat? -

I need not tell you that I shall be deeply grateful to you - for this you know - but it seems to express so miserably my sense of this most charming act of friendship and courtesy & kindness on your part! -

I shall write again directly - but this little note I send off at once - for this place seems so oddly away from all usual routes, that I, who am, in the midst of this ridiculous idleness, filled with a new nervousness, fancy that not a day should be lost! -

Write to me always addressing Rue du Bac - and if I had a telegram to send I suppose [p. 3] that Freer - Detroit would reach you all right of course -

This Mediteranian [sic] business of summer sky & Southern atmosphere is, entre nous[11], all nonsense! -

And as I said the other day shows how little people know about climate at all! In short I have been simply frozen! and indeed, once for all, there is nothing Southern but the South! - and I ought to have gone to the West Indies immediately!

This place is full of beautiful things for panels or plates - but directly I look at one of them and stand for a moment, some Mistral or tra Montana[12] blows me into the hotel with a new little cold that just prevents my getting back to Paris!

These winter[13] "resorts" might be quite tolerable in the summer!

Always, believe me, affectionately Yrs

J McNeill Whistler

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1.  Charles Lang Freer
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more].

2.  ALS
Published in Merrill, Linda, With Kindest Regards. The Correspondence of Charles Lang Freer and James McNeill Whistler, 1890-1903, Washington and London, 1995, no. 44, pp. 133-35. The envelope that probably contained this letter is at #11583. A draft version of this letter is transcribed at #09088.

3.  Bonaparte's
Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821), Emperor of France [more]. JW visited Algiers, Marseilles, and finally Napoleon's birthplace, Corsica, in the winter of 1900 to 1901.

4.  Lady Sophie
Rose and Gold: The Little Lady Sophie of Soho (YMSM 504).

5.  The Bognor
Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor (YMSM 100).

6.  La Cigale
Rose and Brown: La Cigale (YMSM 495).

7.  Southampton
Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Southampton Water (YMSM 117).

8.  Mrs. Gardner
Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924), née Stewart, collector [more].

9.  Mansfield
Howard Mansfield (1849-1938), New York lawyer, print collector [more].

10.  Annie Haden
Annie Haden (K.62).

11.  entre nous
Fr., between ourselves.

12.  tra Montana
It., wind from the mountains.

13.  These winter...
From here to the end the text is added in the left margin of p. 1 at right angles to the main text.