System Number: 04166
Date: [12/19 September 1870]
Recipient: Albert Moore
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M436
Document Type: ALdS
My dear Moore -
I have something to say to you which in itself difficult enough to say, is doubly so to write - Indeed for the last few days I have several times sat down to the matter and losing courage given it up - however it must be done at once or set aside forever as your precious time may not be lost - This is an awful opening rather and the affair is scarcely worthy of such solemnity - The way of it is this - First tho' I
must would [p. 2] like you to feel thoroughly that my esteem and for you and admiration for your work are such that nothing could alter my regard and in return I would beg that if I am making an egregious mistake you will be indulgent - enough to and forgive - believe that I do so with great timidity wishing for nothing more than to be put right - and would rather anything than that a strangeness should come about in our friendship through any stupid blundering letter I might write - - Well then your two [p. 3] beautiful sketches were shown to me by Leyland, - and while admiring them as you know I must do every thing of yours - more than the production of any living man - it struck me dimly - perhaps - and with great hesitation that one of my sketches of girls on the sea shore, was in motive not unlike your yellow one - of course I dont mean in scheme of color but in general sentiment of movement and in the place of the sea - sky and shore &c - - Now I would stop here and tare [sic] this letter up as I have done others if I were not sure that you could not impute to me self sufficiency [p. 4] enough to suppose that I could suggest for a moment that any incomplete little note of mine could even unconsciously have remained upon the impression of a man of such boundless imagination and endless power of arrangement as yourself - Also I am encouraged a little to go on and send this to you by my remembering that one day you came to me and told me that it was you[r] intention to paint a certain bathing subject and that you were uncertain whether a former sketch of mine did not treat of the same subject - and there upon told me that it would annoy you greatly to find yourself at work upon anything that might be in the same strain as that of another -
[p. 5] Now what I would propose is that you should go with Billy Nesfield down to my place and together look at the sketch in question (it is hanging up on the wall in the studio,) where you will be at once admitted without the necessity of mentioning your purpose) [sic] - The one I mean is one in blue green and flesh color of four girls careering along the sea shore, one with a parasol the whole very unfinished and incomplete - But [what] I want you two to see is whether it may be dodged
that we may each by any suggestion of yours that we may each paint our picture without harming each other in the opinion of those who do not under-[p. 6]-stand us and might be our natural ennemies [sic] - Or more clearly if after you have painted yours I may still paint mine without suffering from any of the arrangement either of the sea and shore or the mouvement [sic] of the figures - Will you do this like a good friend and if I have made an ass of myself in this rashness
If however Nesfield and you find that I am unecessarily [sic] anxious and that I am altogether mistaken
will I will be more than satisfied and acknowledging my error still hope that you [p. 7] will consider all that I have written unsaid -
Again in every case begging you to excuse anything that may appear to you 'inconvenant' in this letter believe me my dear Moore Ever yours affectionately
J M W -
[p. 8, monogram:] FRL
Published in Spencer, Robin, ed., Whistler: A Retrospective, New York, 1989, pp. 85-86; and in Thorp, Nigel (Editor), Whistler on Art: Selected Letters and Writings 1849-1903 of James McNeill Whistler, Manchester, 1994, and Washington, 1995, pp. 40-41.
10. former sketch
11. Billy Nesfield
William Eden Nesfield (1835-1888), architect and designer [more]. He replied that JW had no cause for concern, his paintings being in essence different from Moore's (see #04263, op. cit.).
13. Will you
'Will you ... rashness' heavily crossed out and enclosed by a bracket in the left margin.