The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 05898
Date: [11 July 1889][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Upton and Britton[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler U27
Document Type: Ms and ALd[3]


My dear Mr Upperton, Gentlemen -[4]

I have to apologise to you for not answering your letter before. In the matter of the business transaction with your client, Sir Henry Meux[5], the amenities customary in correspondence would I fear savour of sarcasm. I recall the methods of that cheery sportsman, and acknowledge that in the way of wiliness he certainly scored. You are doubtless also not without remembering how he withdrew to the banks of the, I really believe narrow, Nile and from the top of a distant Pyramid haggled in safety over the cheque to be paid for my work!

Acting upon your own kind and disinterested advice I accepted as a pis aller the sum offered - and thought myself lucky in receiving 400 gns. apiece for the pictures (p. 2) instead of the 500 that was completely understood as the price

Not caring to go to law as I ought to have done and this again is a lesson to the gentle in spirit - I took the twelve hundred instead of the fifteen I should have had for the three paintings and acknowledged the wisdom of him who said autres gens autres moeurs - My loss at the moment was 300 gs. counted upon de bonne foi

Sir Henry's cunning argument at the time I remember was based upon beer - which wholesale is cheaper than in the glass - Wherefore three full (p. 3) length portraits should be less in sum than one by itself! -

Of the three fine pictures, two were completed before the flight into Egypt, and are in the possession of Sir Henry Meux. They have been exhibited with the recognition that is now history and are now finally & fataly consigned to the reckless care of the merry baronet and his joyous companions - risking the post prandial pot shot, I suppose during the shooting season daily!

The third portrait I have done my best to finish but the whims and uncertainttiesies of the lady[6] made it impossible and the work itself has been Without wearying you with many details, let me refer you to one of many the following last interchanges of telegrams -

This answer No attention was vouchsafed to this [paintigs proposal?] of mine was never and years of silence have gone by - been obliged to intervene - !

Here I would have you mark that indifference & neglect in this business, was were initiated and habitually practiced by your clients - not by [any?] discourtesy practiced bought about by unwillingness of mine as they who cannot be is apparently surprised that I should (p. 4) let me refer you to the last inter change of telegrams s [sic]:

To this generous proposal of mine no attention was vouchsafed! —

Here I would have you mark that indifference & neglect in this business were initiated and habitually practised by your clients, who are apparently surprised that after something like two or three years silence I should not still be waiting their pleasure, and be able & ready to place myself at their disposal at any moment and forever at their disposal - -

However I am ready However I am willing to terminate the matter à l'amiable - but my very proposal but as Sir Henry Meux seems to think fighting that it would make a good fight, and as I am no match for his astuteness, I had better refer him to Geo George Lewis[7] the great and good, whose sense of justice outstrips even his knowledge of Law! - -

And I am Gentlemen
Yrs -

(p. 5)[8] 2y . 86 4.

[...] not [follow?] still be waiting his pleasure at any moment and forever place myself at their immediate disposal -

Meanwhile my telegram which was conclusion has been & still remained unanswered -

However I am of coursewilling to terminate matters à l'amiable -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [11 July 1889]
This is one of two drafts (with #05897) of a letter so dated, #03549. See latter for full annotation.

2.  Upton and Britton

3.  Ms and ALd
This starts in an unknown hand, possibly that of Charles James Whistler Hanson (1870-1935), engineer, son of JW and Louisa Fanny Hanson [more]. JW started to make amendments on p. 3, and pp. 4-5 were written by him.

4.  Gentlemen -
'To' at top left, and correction, added in pencil, possibly by JW.

5.  Sir Henry Meux
Sir Henry Bruce Meux (1857-1900), 3rd Baronet, brewer and patron [more].

6.  lady
Lady Valerie Susan ('Susie') Meux (1847-1910), née Langdon, collector and patroness [more].

7.  George Lewis
Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].

8.  (p. 5)
The author has mistakenly numbered this page as '4'. This is written on the reverse side of p. 1.