The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05419
Date: 18 June 1902
Author: Bernhard Sickert[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S63
Document Type: ALS

Wed. June 18th 1902


Dear Mr. Whistler,

I have been approached by Dr Williamson[2] on behalf of Messrs Bell[3] the publishers with a view to my writing a "small book on Whistler[4] for their miniature series". Whilst admitting that such a book must n[e]cessarily be inadequate as a representation of the master, I should be inclined to undertake it for that very reason [p. 2] as a humble tribute within my scope, if I could be sure that the writer is not personally objectionable to yourself.

And therefore I take the liberty of asking your permission to proceed, for without it I should not undertake such a work. I see no reason why the breach with my brother Walter[5] should extend to his family, but as I do not wish to have my scalp added to your ever growing collection, I have taken [p. 3] the step I should naturally have taken if there had been no such possible objection. On all other counts I think there is none, my being a painter & not a writer being perhaps rather an advantage in your eyes, & my insignificance the best guarantee of my peaceful disposition!

Of course your assistance would be most valuable but not exactly indispensable in case you were not disposed [p. 4] to extend it.

Please excuse my troubling you on a matter which although it refers to your life & work cannot be of such importance to you as to myself, & believe me

Always your sincere admirer

Bernhard Sickert

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1.  Bernhard Sickert
Bernhard Sickert (1862-1932), painter of landscape and still life, author [more].

2.  Dr. Williamson
Probably Dr George Charles Williamson (1858-1942), collector and writer [more].

3.  Messrs Bell
Messrs George Bell publishers, Covent Garden, London.

4.  book on Whistler
JW was greatly disturbed when approached by Nancy Regina Emily Bell (1844-1933), née Meugens, writer, wife of Arthur Bell [more], who appears to have been the second choice of Messrs Bell (see Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Whistler Journal, Philadelphia, 1921, pp. 258-61). Bell's book was eventually published after JW's death (Bell, Nancy R. E., James McNeill Whistler, by Mrs Arthur Bell, London, 1904). Sickert's book was eventually published by Duckworth's (Sickert, Bernhard, Whistler, London and New York, 1908).

5.  my brother Walter
Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), artist and writer on art [more].