The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06172
Date: 13 December 1892
Author: William Webb[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W169
Document Type: ALS


E. C.

13th Decr 1892

My dear Niece

There can be no question about it. Mr Bancroft[3] can have no claim whatever [two illegible words] in the matter. He outreached himself and was outbid. His price was £600 and £650 were paid to Caravafy[4] [sic]. I think Mr Whistler is the man entitled to the pictures[5] if Mr Kennedy[6] wishes to sell [p. 2] them cheap or give them away, the man whose judgement on them has been verified & above all the man who created them.

Surely if there is any morality in the matter it is incomparably in favor of the man who painted these valuable masterpieces & received only a trifle for them. He is the man who ought to have their full value now that the golden age of morals is returning - What claim has Mr Bancroft? What has he done? Has he [p. 3] designed or worked at them? Has he paid any money for them?

He has neither invented worked nor done anything whatever, except tried to do a shabby thing. There is no morality for him and there is a huge pile of it against him.

If I were Mr Whistler I should object most strongly and Mr K should be made to understand that in addition to the above mentioned moralities in favor of the painter, there is that in favor of Mr Whistler as the [p. 4] man whose judgement enabled Mr Kennedy to make the handsome profit he is doing.

But I doubt whether Mr K is really mad as you put it & in the way of letting Mr Bancroft have the pictures for less than can be got elsewhere for them. I suspect another bargain accompanying, an exchange of pictures & cash, or the purchase of other painter's pictures from Kennedy at more than their value & a low price for these or something of that sort, to the advantage of Mr K, who may be willing for that reason to give Mr Bancroft an apparent triumph & an apparent moral victory - This suspicion seems horrible, but is not Kennedy a dealer? If so the thing is impossible except in combination with another transaction[7]

Kindest Regards

Your affect. uncle

I keep letters till you write again as you may want me to refer to them again.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  William Webb
William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more].

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Although webb addresses this letter to his 'dear Niece' and signs himself 'Uncle', the content makes it clear that the recipient is Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. See also #06177.

3.  Mr Bancroft
John Chandler Bancroft (1822-1907), politician, diplomat and collector [more]. This letter relates to Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville (YMSM 64) which Cavafy sold to Kennedy for £650 in June 1892. It was eventually sold on to Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924), née Stewart, collector [more] in November 1892 for 600 guineas. Se Bancroft's letter to E. G. Kennedy, 11 December 1892, #09844.

4.  Caravafy
Dr John Cavafy (ca 1839-1901), physician and collector, son of G. J. Cavafy [more].

5.  pictures
The Last of Old Westminster (YMSM 39), Battersea Reach (YMSM 45), Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56) and Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville (YMSM 64).

6.  Mr Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].

7.  with another transaction
'apparent ... with another transaction' was written at right-angles to the main text in the right-hand margin. 'I keep ... again' was written at the top of p. 1.