The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05099
Date: 15 February 1886
Author: Harry Quilter[1]
Place: London
Recipient: University of Cambridge
Place: Cambridge
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler Q1
Document Type: PL[2]

To the Electors of the Slade Professor of Fine Art for the University of Cambridge.


February 15th, 1886.


I beg to submit my name to you as a Candidate for the Slade Professorship[3], and enclose herewith a few testimonials from very eminent men in evidence of my capacity for that post. I have also received favourable letters from the following gentlemen, which I will forward to you at once should you desire further testimony:- Right Hon. A. J. B. Beresford Hope, M. P.[4], Right Hon. John Morley, M. P.[5], L. Alma Tadema, R. A.[6], Marcus Stone, R. A.[7], Briton Riviere, R. A.[8], John Brett, A. R. A.[9], Henry Moore, A. R. A.[10], Alfred Hunt[11] (Royal Society of Painters in Water Colours), Rev. Stopford A. Brooke[12] (author of "Notes on Turner's Liber Studiorum"), Percy W. Bunting, Esq.[13] (editor, Contemporary Review), and others.

My experience in Art matters since I left Cambridge in 1873 (at which time I had already considerable acquaintance with pictures, and had studied drawing) has been briefly as follows:-

I have worked at the subject continually in Italy, having for that purpose travelled and stayed in that country at least a dozen times. I have also painted in France, Germany, and Belgium, in which last-mentioned country I was in a portrait painter's studio. At Rome I worked under an Italian sculptor, and in England, for a short time only, under Professor Legros[14] at University College.

I have also travelled for a year in the East, and studied Arabian, Indian, Chinese, and Japanese Art in their respective countries.

There are several pictures of mine[15] being exhibited in London at the present time, two of them at the Institute of Painters in Oil Colours.

I have also done practical work in design (chiefly for wall decoration), have made drawings for book illustration and the Graphic, executed a good deal of distemper painting, and some copper-plate etching.

I have had, as a lecturer upon Art, considerable experience - at working men's clubs, and at the Rev. Stopford A. Brooke's College for Men and Women, in London; at the Town Hall, Manchester; and in the country.

In 1880 I wrote a critical life of Giotto[16], of which two editions were published, dealing with his place in ancient Art, and the authenticity of the various works assigned to him by Cavalcaselle[17], Ruskin[18], and others. This book was illustrated by myself.

For the last ten years I have written every article upon Art which has appeared in the Spectator newspaper.

For two years I was the chief Art writer upon the Times.

Also during that period I have contributed essays and reviews on Art topics to most of the great reviews, magazines, and journals.

Indeed, since January, 1876, there has scarcely been a great picture or statue produced, an important Art question raised, or a great collection of pictures exhibited, upon which I have not written; and the whole of my working time has been for this period occupied in the above theoretical and practical study of Art.

I will only add that should I be elected I will spare no effort to fill the Professorship worthily.

Your most obedient Servant,


Trin. Coll., Camb.,
Barrister-at-Law, of the Inner Temple, Esquire[19].

[p. 2] 'Arry[20]'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Harry Quilter
Henry ('Arry') Quilter (1851-1907), advocate and art critic [more]. On 17 February 1886, the news of Quilter's candidature was published in the 'Atlas' column in the World and it challenged JW to respond (#11400). JW responded with enthusiasm and sent two mocking letters to 'Atlas,' one of them quoting extracts from this testimonial. See JW to E. Yates, #11401, #11402.

2.  PL
The whole of this letter is printed text, except for JW's note on p. 2.

3.  Slade Professorship
Sidney Colvin (1845-1927), Keeper of Prints and Drawings, British Museum [more], had been Slade Professor of Fine Art, Cambridge, 1873-1885. In the end, Quilter failed in his bid for the Slade Chair, and John Henry Middleton (1846-1896), architect, Director of South Kensington Museum from 1893-1896 [more], was elected instead.

4.  Right Hon. A. J. B. Beresford Hope, M. P.
Rt. Hon. Alexander James Beresford-Hope (1820-1887), MP [more].

5.  Right Hon. John Morley, M. P.
John Morley (1838-1923), Viscount Morley of Blackburn, MP, barrister, editor of the Fortnightly Review from 1867-1880, and the Pall Mall Gazette from 1880-1883 [more].

6.  L. Alma Tadema, R. A.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), painter [more].

7.  Marcus Stone, R. A.
Marcus Stone (1840-1921), historical genre painter and illustrator [more].

8.  Briton Riviere, R. A.
Briton Riviere (or Rivière) (1840-1920), genre and animal painter [more].

9.  John Brett, A. R. A.
John Brett (1830-1902), painter of coastal scenes and landscapes [more].

10.  Henry Moore, A. R. A.
Henry Moore (1831-1895), marine and landscape painter and etcher [more].

11.  Alfred Hunt
Alfred William Hunt (1830-1896), landscape painter and watercolourist [more].

12.  Rev. Stopford A. Brooke
Rev. Stopford Augustus Brooke (1832-1916), author, critic, and preacher [more].

13.  Percy W. Bunting, Esq.
Percy William Bunting (1836-1911), barrister, editor of the Contemporary Review [more].

14.  Professor Legros
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more].

15.  pictures of mine
Quilter painted landscapes, and between 1884-1892 exhibited eleven works at The Institute of Painters in Oil Colours (later the Royal Institute of Oil Painters) at the Piccadilly Galleries, 190 Piccadilly, London.

16.  Giotto
Giotto di Bondone (1267?-1337), artist [more]. Quilter, Harry, Giotto. An essay. With illustrations. , London, 1880.

17.  Cavalcaselle
Giovanni Battista Cavalcaselle (1820-1897), writer on art [more]. Cavalcaselle was co-author of works including A New History of Painting in Italy (1864-8) and A History of Painting in Northern Italy (1871).

18.  Ruskin
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more].

19.  written
Quilter was art critic of the Spectator from 1876-86 and of the Times from 1880-81.

20.  Esquire
Tripled underlined, perhaps by JW's hand.

21.  Arry
Written in pencil in JW's hand. Double underlined.