The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 04762
Date: [5 December 1899][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Rosalind Birnie Philip[2]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P402
Document Type: ALS

[Chatham coat of arms with motto:] BENIGNO NUMINE


Tuesday - Eveg
'Dec. 6. 99.'

[sketch[3] of five paintings on a gallery wall]

Well, Major, that's about it - ! -

and, Ma'ame[4], it appears that Paris has gone simply wild about the "Wistleer" group at the exhibition[5] of which this is the opening night! -

Young Stevens[6], the son of Alfred Stevens[7] - you remember the handsome sister - has just been in - it is now about 10 o'clock -

He says that there is "un monde fou[8]"!, an excited [p. 2] crowd in front of the Whistler pictures! so great that it is impossible to see them! But that the whole group or "panel" looks superb!! -

Notwithstanding the mass of people, he was still able to distinguish - you will be pleased to hear, Major - a lady with a very short nose, and blonde brown hair, who was standing about prominently and holding forth with authority - and I think you and I might recognise, in this vivid description the retiring attitude and demeanour [sic] of the bashful Apprentice[9] -

Well well! I wish you had been here, for you should have gone with Miss Reubell[10], the dear! -

Of course I didn't go at all! - and that also is beautiful! for every body was expecting me - but -

I sent my work - and myself remain in mysterious absence! -

The President[11] of the Republic went at two o'clock with his staff to the Gallery - and very properly every body was there to receive him - Well, I sent my profound regrets, and my centre picture - (beautiful - and you know what I must think when I say such a thing.) just in in [sic] time for his arrival - -

Already this evening, on my return to the hotel, I find a note, from the Secretary[12] of the Gallery, wishing to know immediately the prices of these wonderful pictures, as it was most important that he should be able to answer the many demands in the course of the afternoon!! - This was followed by an anxious and important visit from the Secretary [p. 3] himself, who couldnt wait! Well, I said, what is the use, my prices are simply enormous!! - Whereupon he was more determined than ever! - -

In short I gather that the General has come out among them all in the most stupendous, and autocratic West Point[13] way! and Trixie[14] would be delighted!

Of course this kind of assertion has been consecutively made in London over and over again - but nobody knew it[15]!!!

The difference is that here it becomes an event!! -

Stevens said that one of the artists said to him "Pearls! they are pearls in the sty[16]!"! -

Well, you know Ma'ame, I like this sort of appreciation, and respectful attitude after all those years of dull execration in the Island - I must see about your getting out of that soon, for you are evidently suffering from your long exile! - but tonight I can only write about myself! - So à bientot! Write Major, and write always[17] -


the General -

Business next time

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[Chatham coat of arms and motto:] BENIGNO NUMINE

Miss Rosalind Birnie-Philip
Dhu House
36. Tite Street -
London - SW -
[postmark:] PARIS-81 / R. DES CAPUCINES / 2E 6 / DEC / 99


1.  5 December 1899
Dated from the almanac, for 5 December was a Tuesday in 1899. The postmark and date added on the letter by the recipient refer to the day of posting.

2.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. JW called her 'Major' and himself 'General'.

3.  sketch
Five paintings at the Galerie Georges Petit (M.1600). It includes Variations in Blue and Green (YMSM 84) and Symphony in Blue and Pink (YMSM 86).

4.  Ma'ame
Frances Philip (1824-1917), née Black, JW's mother-in-law [more].

5.  exhibition
Société Internationale de Peinture et de Sculpture, Galerie Georges Petit, Paris, 1899, which had its preview on Tuesday 5 December 1899.

6.  Stevens
Jean, son of the painter Alfred Stevens.

7.  Alfred Stevens
Alfred Émile-Léopold Stevens (1823-1906), history and portrait painter [more].

8.  un monde fou
Fr., a lot of people.

9.  Apprentice
Inez Eleanor Addams (fl. 1898-1927), née Bate, painter [more].

10.  Miss Reubell
Henrietta T. Reubell (ca 1839-after 1904), wealthy American hostess [more].

11.  President
Émile Loubet (1838-1929), President of France [more].

12.  Secretary
Letter not located.

13.  West Point
JW was a cadet at the US Military Academy from 1851-54 but failed to graduate.

14.  Trixie
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

15.  nobody knew it
Double underlined.

16.  pearls in the sty
'Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.' Matt. 7.6.

17.  write always
Continued in the left margin, at right angles to the main text.