UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04112
Date: May 1889
Author: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac[1]
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M382
Document Type: ALfS[2]


[...] J'eusse mieux fait que de bien vouloir: bien aller, avec Helleu[3], s'il ne se fut trouvé dans de particulières et idéales circonstances pastellistes, dont vous jugerez. Car c'est vous qui viendrez pour constater l'état d'amour recrudescent dans lequel nous plonge la mise en présence de votre tableau[4] toujours inattendu, même pour les mieux préparés. Cette toile qui a l'air non pas faite, mais mûrie par un soleil artiste. Cette chose dont il faudrait dire qu'elle est la plus jolie des peintures, si ce n'était pas encor mieux - La plus jolie des choses.

Cette peinture matériellement persuasive, invitante et déroutante qui donne tout d'abord envie de l'embrasser - et puis de la manger!

A Dieu cher Diable[5]

RMF

[Design of flowers[6]]

mai 89


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Translation:

[…] I should have done more than wishing: I should have gone, with Helleu, if he had not found himself in particular and ideal pastellist circumstances, as you will see. Because it is you who will come to assess the state of re-awakening love in which the still unexpected presence of your picture has plunged us, even for the best-prepared. This canvas which gives the feeling of having been not made, but ripened by an artistic sun. This work of which it must be said that it is the most beautiful of paintings, if it were not even better - the most beautiful of things.

This materially persuasive painting, inviting and distracting which arouses an immediate desire to kiss it - and then to eat it!

Go with God, dear Demon

RMF

May 89


Notes:

1.  Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac
Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more].

2.  ALfS
The first page of the letter is missing. Published in Newton, Joy, La Chauve-Souris et le Papillon. Correspondance Montesquiou-Whistler, Glasgow, 1990, no. 18, pp. 55-56.

3.  Helleu
Paul-César-François Helleu (1859-1927), painter and etcher [more]. He worked extensively in pastel, as indeeed did JW.

4.  votre tableau
Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56) and Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242) were exhibited at Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1889.

5.  à Dieu cher Diable
Oscar Wilde had described JW as a 'miniature Metistopheles'. Sometimes JW signed his letters with a butterfly that had a stinging tail.

6.  Design of flowers
The paper bears a printed design of pink and blue hortensias.