The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05423
Date: [24 March/April 1885][1]
Author: Walter Sickert[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S67
Document Type: ALfI[3]

[...] sake don't attempt to repaint the whole picture[4] to the boy's present condition but merely touch details. The picture is finished.

I wonder if you saw the day before yesterday - Thursday's Telegraph. Damned good touch in an account of the drawing room about the refined eye of the Master -

[Albert Moore?]

I have tried the Petroleum oil on a lifesized canvas: it is perfect: not sticky like turps: keeps wet: doesn't sink in: yet works quicker somehow, and [p. 2] fresher: five of it to one of burnt oil: and I wish you would try it -

My sister[5] says Cambridge was astounded[6] and enchanted. She heard a man say
"Certainly, he has the most extraordinary capacity of making two & two make five."
to which an old don drawled
"I'm not so sure that his two & two don't make 4 -"

There you have the effect you have had mathematically on the mathematical University. Classically they are amazed [p. 3] not to have found a flaw: such style & such familiarity with the Lemprière[7] was a thing unlooked for in a man they had always imagined as more or less a rowdy long shore pirate -

Nellie[8] heard it herself & was enchanted -

W. S -

[p. 4] 'Cambridge[9]
after "Ten O'clock"'

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1.  [24 March/April 1885]
Dated from reference to JW's 'Ten O'Clock Lecture.'

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

3.  ALfI
It appears that probably two pages have been torn away and lost from the beginning of this letter.

4.  picture
Arrangement in Grey: Portrait of Master Stephen Manuel (YMSM 321). This was a portrait of Stephen Manuel (1880-1954), civil servant, JW's nephew [more]. According to Sickert, JW 'was not quick enough for the child, who was wearied with the number of sittings' (see Sickert, Walter, 'L'Affaire Greaves,' The New Age: A Weekly Review of Politics, Literature, and Art, vol. 9, no. 7, 15 June 1911, pp.159-160, p. 160).

5.  sister
Helena Swanwick (1864-1939), née Sickert, journalist and suffragette [more].

6.  Cambridge was astounded
This refers to the second occasion on which JW gave the 'Ten O'Clock Lecture,' a manifesto of his aesthetic ideas. The lecture took place on 24 March before an audience of students, dons and the University Fine Art Society. See H. F. Wilson to JW, #07075, #07076. A version of the text of the lecture may be found at #06791.

7.  Lemprière
John Lemprière (1765?-1824), compiler of Bibliotheca classica: or, a classical dictionary (1793) [more], (Bibliotheca classica: or, a classical dictionary ; containing a full account of all the proper names mentioned in antient authors ; to which are subjoined, tables of coins, weights and measures, in use among the Greeks and Romans).

8.  Nellie
Ellen Melicent Sickert (1848-1914), née Cobden, writer [more].

9.  Cambridge ... Ten O'clock
Note written in JW's hand, in red ink.