The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 03527
Date: 28 February 1889
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Robert Walker[1]
Place: [Glasgow]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler LB 7/61-62
Document Type: MsLd[2]

Feb. 28. 89

Feb. 28 - 89

Dear Mr Walker, ~

I am still waiting for further details as to the origin and source of the imposition practiced upon the Gentlemen of the Committee in the case of the sham Whistler[3].

Though they may think that I should be satisfied by their taking down what they ought never to have hung, and what they could not possibly have kept upon their walls, it still occurs to me that they might in some way assist me with information that will simplify matters for my lawyers in their action.

Meanwhile the Committee are of course morally responsible for the bad effect produced by the weight of their authority in receiving the spurious work, and I feel sure they will be only too pleased to afford me whatever reparation they may have in their power

I want to know how the painting came to be sold as one of mine - what is its story as far as Mr Kirkpatrick[4] knows - pray give him my compliments and beg him kindly to say who was the foolish if not dishonest, person who offered him this uninteresting and very mild production as one of Mr Whistler's "eccentricities"?

Or did Mr Kirkpatrick, from a congenial sense of mischief - lay this trap for the critic, into [p. 2] which the simple creature was sure to tumble?

In this case thank him for me - the awkward antics of the blundering one in trouble, give me still pleasure, though a little blasé perhaps with that kind of amusement, and I fancy it would at least be a change to send the forger or the dealer, as George Lewis[5] pleases, to the Galleys.

Therefore again I beg that the Committee kindly help me in the pursuit of this Piggott[6] of pictures

And I am,
Dear Mr Walker
Very faithfully,

(signed) J. McNeill Whistler

Tower House, Chelsea.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Robert Walker
Robert Walker (ca 1841 - d.1900), Secretary of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts [more]. See JW's telegram to Walker, 12 February 1889, #03521.

2.  MsLd
Written by Charles James Whistler Hanson (1870-1935), engineer, son of JW and Louisa Fanny Hanson [more].

3.  sham Whistler
See #00233.

4.  Mr Kirkpatrick
Andrew J. Kirkpatrick (d. 1900), merchant and collector, Chairman, Council of the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts [more]. He owned Anon., Dream of Morning off Gravesend(z207), which was exhibited as by JW in the 28th Exhibition of Works of Modern Artists, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Glasgow, 1889 (cat. no. 472).

5.  George Lewis
Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].

6.  Piggott
Richard Pigott (ca 1828 - d.1889), journalist and forger [more], forged a letter purporting to be by Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891), Irish Nationalist leader and MP [more], implicating him in the Phoenix Park murders. A facsimile was published in the Times in 1887. Parnell launched a libel action against the Times, which was heard in July 1888. This led to a Special Commission of Inquiry, which began proceedings in December 1888. George Lewis represented Parnell and the chief nationalist parties concerned and his investigation led to the exposure of Pigott's forgeries. A year later, Pigott shot himself. JW further refers to the scandal in a letter to Lewis, #02541.