The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 06255
Date: 14 May 1899
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: George Webb[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W250
Document Type: ALS[2]

110. Rue du Bac. Paris

May 14. 1899

Dear Mr. Webb -

Your letter recieved [sic] -

You state the fact of Simpkins[3] demand, but I miss you[r] advise [sic] - I suppose you must be writing me some other letter with full counsel and advising exactly what to do -

Simpkins I understood demands also second guarantor - Do they now give this up? - and would my security of £300 - suffice? - Will he [put?] [p. 2] Will they put the book[4] on the market immediately say tomorrow, Monday 15th., on your promising to place in the hands of their Solicitors securities to that amount directly the book is out - This you can do - But of course you will be fully guaranteed by them - on their part - they undertaking there shall be no further delay - and it will be understood and settled that the sum or securities so deposited should only be touched in case of action - (I mean that if Simpkins throw up the work - or apologise and withdraw the book, in case of proceedings taken against them, no part of the sum shall be used for trade expenses - or to cover their losses with Publishers etc - etc)

How In short I want of course your advice upon Mrs. Whibleys[5] communication to you - It was impossible for me to see you as she will have told you and I wondered if you could come over on short visit?

But meanwhile and at once why not if you think necessary send over for a day your clerk - I mean Cleary[6] -

However, what I cannot make out is that you do not write more fully - Perhaps you did not see Mrs. Whibley?

In short what do you advise? -

My belief is, gathered from rumours about town, that the Baronet[7] is madly bent upon proceeding against everyone until he can get at me - For that reason the book was transferred to Paris - Now you understand the letter published about "Napoleon and I" —

This of course is our private admission!

[p. 3] You can say to Messrs Simpkins that you are prepared to place in their Solicitors hands securities to the amount of £300 - on the conditions above mentioned - and meanwhile you can yourselves guarantee that this shall be done -

Very sincerely Yours

J McN. Whistler.

Please wire result advice tomorrow morning and write fully -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  George Webb
George Webb (b. ca 1835), of G. and W. Webb. lawyer [more].

2.  ALS
Written on deep-bordered mourning paper.

3.  Simpkins
Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., a London firm of publishers and newsagents, located at the 317 Strand, London, W. C. and 4 Stationer's Hall Court, E. C.

4.  book
JW's account of his dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more]: Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24]. It was published on 13 May 1899. The dispute concerned Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), a commissioned portrait of Eden's wife. On 14 February 1894, with the picture seemingly nearing completion, Eden sent JW a 'Valentine' cheque for 100 guineas. But JW was dissatisfied with his work and refused to hand it over to Eden, believing it was the artist's right to withhold a picture in such circumstances. When Eden instituted legal proceedings against him in November 1894 in order to retrieve it, JW returned all monies that had been paid to him. However, the dispute dragged on until December 1897 when JW, on appeal, was permitted by the Cour de Cassation in Paris to keep the picture provided that he did not make use of it.

5.  Mrs. Whibleys
Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more].

6.  Cleary
Cleary, clerk to G. and W. Webb, lawyers.

7.  Baronet
That is, Sir William Eden.