The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04622
Date: 16 April [1903?][1]
Author: Robert Goodroe Harper Pennington[2]
Place: Baltimore
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P262
Document Type: ALS

April 16th '1903?[3]'


My dear Jimmy:

If Waldo[4] did sail, as he said he was going to, you will have seen him ere this reaches you, & - if you thought of me - he gave you all my news.

After a whole year of absence, here I am once more in the family [buzzence?]. It is as deliciously peaceful as Arcady. My parents, my wife & the four small daughters received me gloriously; & now they are trying to gorge me with all the goodies which are indigenous to this soil. To say that I stuff at every meal is not a figure of speech. How I will ever get a waist again, Lord knows.

I heard your "Girl in a White Dress"[5] quoted at $25,000. the other day. How that silly Tom[6] must gnaw his mercenary fingers! Just think what a rage he [p. 2] must be in! You know, I begged him not to sell the picture - tried my best to make him understand the wonder of it & the honor it was to own such a work, to pass it down as an heirloom -

It was in 18745 that I saw it first, here, at an exhibition. Today, all (the most dull & ignorant included) who saw that show remember for the most part only[7] that picture and "The Coast of Brittany."[8] It is always my strongest argument against the few old "bald-eagle" Philistines who still survive the excellent food & whisky of this club. Just a few of the gouty old bucks still hang on [pen and ink sketch[9]], taking their daily toddy, their gentle "constitutionals", and daily prattle about unimportant local trifles - They go on living because it has [p. 3] become a habit. These wonderful old cocks are a type apart - and Gawd! - how immensely dull & ignorant they are! Their delight is to talk art, of course. They describe to me pictures they have seen - one or two remember "when Leutze[10] was painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware"[11] - ah! Ouiche! You guess at the conversation?

I took some pleasure in writing a pretty sharp letter to a certain editor, not long ago, about some idiotic remarks of his "Art Critic" concerning your work. There was no answer - naturally!

Oh! Jimmy - I do want to see you so very much. But, my dear fellow, I am anchored here so firmly that it is impossible for me to trip & sail away for even a few weeks. Still - I am forever hoping that I can steal a few weeks out of my summer-time for the express purpose of hearing you laugh once more. [p. 4] Every now & then some etchings or a few of your pictures are to be seen either in the shops or galleries. There was one which Kennedy[12] had, lately, a most marvellous impression of that "Annie Haden"[13] plate - the one in hat & cloak, full-length. I do not know when anything has given me so much pleasure.

Enfin! - The paper is giving out - & I am afraid of boring you. My letters must do that, since you never take any notice of them. I would not write any more if I was not always

Your grateful & affectionate


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1.  16 April [1903?]
The year is added in another hand.

2.  Robert Goodroe Harper Pennington
Robert Goodloe Harper Pennington (1854-1920), artist [more].

3.  1903?
Added by another hand, in pencil.

4.  Waldo
Thomas Waldo Story (1854-1915), sculptor [more].

5.  Girl in a White Dress
Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38) was owned by James Henry Whitehouse (1833-1924), banker [more]

6.  Tom
Thomas Delano Whistler (1857-1921), engineer, JW's nephew [more].

7.  only
Double underlined.

8.  The Coast of Brittany.
The Coast of Brittany (YMSM 37).

9.  pen and ink sketch
Drawing of two old men with bowler hats and sticks walking towards each other.

10.  Leutze
Emanuel Leutze (1816-1868), artist [more].

11.  Washington Crossing the Delaware
Leutze's depiction of Washington's attack on the Hessians at Trenton on 25 December 1776, was a great success in America and in Germany. Leutze began his first version of this subject in 1849. It was damaged in his studio by fire in 1850 and, although restored and acquired by the Bremen Kunsthalle, was finally destroyed in a bombing raid in 1942. In 1850, Leutze began this version of the subject, which was placed on exhibition in New York during October 1851. At this showing Marshall O. Roberts bought the canvas for the then-enormous sum of $10,000. In 1853, M. Knoedler published an engraving of it. Many studies for the painting exist, as do copies by other artists. [ website; accessed 2003.02].

12.  Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].

13.  Annie Haden
Annie Haden (K.62).