The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05418
Date: 18 September 1892
Author: Frank Short[1]
Place: Friesland
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S62
Document Type: ALS

Hindelopen Huis
Hindelopen - Friesland

Septr 18th 1892.

Dear Mr. Whistler

Your letter has been forwarded, on to me here and has only just reached, so I hasten to send you the formular [sic] for the Dutch bath, and trust it will reach you in time.

It is:-

2 parts Chlorate of Potash[2] 10 parts
10 " Hydro-chloric acid 2 "
88 "   Water 88 "
100     100


I have lately been using it of double strength (that is, of course, using 44 instead of 88 parts of water) and I think it does quite as well and saves time. The only thing against it is that the pungent smell of the chlorine is stronger and rather unpleasant.

As to the Perchloride of Iron[3] bath, [p. 2] I have somehow gott got out of the habit of using it. It certainly bites a very good line, but you can see no signs of the action taking place and the bath requires to be tilted back forw backwards and forwards, because if it is allowed to stand still some deposit forms upon the copper and the "biting" stops. It is a yellow liquid and gets darker & somewhat opaque with use, so altogether I do not expect you would care for it - It is, I think, always used for biting photo-gravure plates.

I have been wandering about Holland & Friesland for some weeks Etching & painting. There does not seem to be much in Friesland that comes up to Holland. We leave here tomorrow to try one or two of the more northern towns, and if these are not good we shall go back into Holland - I have been looking out for old paper[4], but have yet only got one book - and that in Amsterdam -

As to that noble array of signatures upon vellum, I thought you had it long ago. I kept it in the studio for a week or two [p. 3] after our evening[5] for several of the members who were anxious to sign it; and when this was done, gave it to Stirling Lee[6], who was to take it down and give it to Mrs Whistler[7].

But perhaps you had then gone to France? However, as soon as I get home again I will see that it comes along - I wish the writing of the heading was worthier the occassion [sic].

Yours always sincerely

Frank Short

P. S. I forgot to say in speaking of the Dutch bath, that the chlorate of potash should be first dissolved in hot water, and the acid to be added as soon as it is the liquid is cool -

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1.  Frank Short
Francis ('Frank') Job Short (1857-1945), printer and print-maker [more].

2.  Chlorate of Potash
Potassium chlorate (KClO3). Dutch mordant bites a deep line in the copper plate.

3.  Perchloride of Iron
Ferric chloride, or iron(III) chloride (FeCl3).

4.  old paper
Short and JW collected old Dutch paper for etching.

5.  evening
A dinner given in JW's honour at the Chelsea Arts Club on 19 December 1891 to celebrate the purchase of Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101) by the French Government and his appointment as an Officier of the Légion d'Honneur. JW was also presented with a parchment signed by a hundred members of the Club. See Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, p. 117.

6.  Stirling Lee
Thomas Stirling Lee (1856-1916), sculptor [more].

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