The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04167
Date: [22 November 1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Albert Joseph Moore[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler M437
Document Type: ALS


W. C.


Moore my dear brother professor I want you now as on an occasion of the kind you might want me and know that I should rush to stand by your side -

On Monday next my battle with Ruskin[3] comes off - and I shall call on you to state boldly your opinion of Whistler generally as a painter - colorist - and worker - In point of fact what I gather is that I must have with me some of my own craft to prove state that what I produce is Art - otherwise Ruskin's assertion that it is not, remains - Moreover he is prepared with an army[4] of volunteers ready to swear that Whistler's work is mere impudence and sham - and among these gentlemen prominent is Stacey Marks[5]. 'RA -' ready it is said to assert that he can paint a Whistler Nocturne in five minutes in Court!! - Now Moore mon ami I know you wont hesitate - and I write to prepare you for Monday - Meantime come and breakfast with me on Sunday at 11.30 - and [p. 2] take fresh confidence in your pal as a painter while you see again the works[6] I have gathered together in my studio! -

Mind you this is a chance for our side that may never occur again - come and suggest any thing in the way of fight -

We are sure to win -

Always Yours

J A McN. Whistler


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1.  [22 November 1878]
Dated from date of Whistler v Ruskin trial (see note below).

2.  Albert Joseph Moore
Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), painter [more]. Moore appeared as a witness on JW's behalf.

3.  battle with Ruskin
This is a reference to JW's libel suit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more]. The suit was in response to Ruskin's criticism of JW's works, especially Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170), in his periodical Fors Clavigera. On 2 July 1877, he accused JW of 'flinging a pot of paint in the public's face' in a review of the I Summer Exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery, London. See Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213. The following Monday was 25 November, the date of the commencement of the trial hearing.

4.  army
Ruskin's witnesses were Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more], William Powell Frith (1819-1909), genre and landscape painter [more], and Thomas ('Tom') Taylor (1817-1880), civil servant, dramatist, art critic, and editor of Punch from 1874-1880 [more]. In fact, there was not quite the 'army of volunteers' to testify on his behalf as JW made out. A few days before the trial, Ruskin's defence counsel was still having difficulty in obtaining the academician witnesses they had hoped for (see Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, p. 110).

5.  Stacey Marks
Henry Stacy Marks (1829-1898), history and genre painter [more]. According to Merrill, Stacey Marks was also reluctant to appear as a witness (Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, p. 110).

6.  works
Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 113), and Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140), were compared in court to Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170). See Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, pp. 171-76.

7.  [return?]
Written upside down at foot of sheet. Difficult to read, and might be 'redesign', or something else.