The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05608
Date: [14/18 September 1887][1]
Author: JW
Place: Brussels
Recipient: Thomas Waldo Story[2]
Place: London
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S254
Document Type: ALS[3]

Too bad Waldo! -

Fancy deserting the whole show just at the moment of triumph[4]! - Well well - what is the use! - However of course you must be forgiven - how else! - You shall hear all about it - only it can't be done over again you know - and you have lost an amazing business! -

Where am I now? - well of all places - in Brussels[5]! - I wish enough you were here with me - The place is simply lovely - and I only wonder how it is that I should never have discovered it before! -

But the droll thing is that the people themselves - the [p. 2] painter fellows and the rest of them have no idea of it themselves - and I will have to invent their town for them as I did the Thames for the Londoners[6]! -

The work that I am doing is, I believe, far away beyond all that I have done before - and I shall be awfully disappointed if you dont think that what I am about is not even newer, and more amazing than the Naval Review[7] -

Well I can't write - but when I see you in a few days from now we will have a lot to talk about -

Dieu propose - et la femme dipose![8] - I know this - still it is no excuse - and mind you dont fail me this time -

You are to stay in London for this next General Meeting[9] any how[10] - and then we may see about establishing a Colony in Brussels!!!!! -

It would beat all the Fleets on the River! - Where are you going to stay? - Why not come to the Vale[11]? - Why not! Why not?!?!? -


[butterfly signature]

I shall go back to town probably on Wednesday or Thursday -

Go and see Mr. Hanson[12] at the Vale meanwhile and tell him where you are -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [14/18 September 1887]
Dated by JW's trip to Brussels.

2.  Waldo Story
Thomas Waldo Story (1854-1915), sculptor [more].

3.  ALS
Written on paper with a printed grid.

4.  moment of triumph
Story, proposed by JW, had become a member of the Society of British Artists under JW's Presidency. During Queen Victoria's Jubilee Year, JW sent her a Memorial requesting that the SBA be called 'Imperial'. This was then amended to read 'Royal'. The SBA received a Royal Charter, thus becoming the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA) (see G. Lushington to JW, 9 August 1887, #13418).

5.  Brussels
While in Brussels, JW etched the 'Belgian set', 1887 (K.349-367).

6.  Thames for the Londoners
He may mean A Series of Sixteen Etchings of Scenes on the Thames, 1871 (the 'Thames Set') (K.38-44, 46, 52, 66, 68, 71, 74-76, 95) (excat 4) or more recent etchings such as the 'East London Set' (K.283-302). The reference to 'painter fellows' might suggest that he means oil paintings of London, Nocturnes for instance, but only one oil of Brussels is known, Brown and Gold: The Curé's Little Class (YMSM 455).

7.  Naval Review
'Naval Review set', 1887 (K.316-331). 'Belgian set', 1887 (K.349-367) (excat 8) included a series of handsome etchings of the Grande Place in Brussels, as well as studies of landscape and figures.

8.  Dieu propose - et la femme dipose!
Fr., God proposes - and woman disposes!

9.  General Meeting
The Memorial had been shown to the RBA at the previous meeting on 5 September 1887 (#01841, #01842).

10.  any how
'any how' is double underlined.

11.  Vale
JW's London address at this period, No. 2, The Vale, off the Fulham Road in Chelsea.

12.  Mr. Hanson
Charles James Whistler Hanson (1870-1935), engineer, son of JW and Louisa Fanny Hanson [more].