The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06258
Date: [June/October 1899][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: George Webb[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W253
Document Type: ALfd[3]

[Chatham coat of arms with motto:] BENIGNO NUMINE


Dear Mr. Webb -

Well may you wonder what has become of me! Knowing, as you do, that I would never propose to tackle the difficulties, or pleasing surprises of life, without the counsels of my best and wisest adviser, you must have supposed that my career had become of the tamest! -

Where as here I am with my hands full! -

Let us begin with the "Swan" Company - or rather with Mr. Thomson[4] - My other letter to yourself, is one of several! begun at moments - and interrupted -

I send this one - because of the episode of the devoted Apprentice[5], which will amuse you -
but perhaps the letter to the excited Father[6] may wait -

The "Swan" business is an affair of money that "wee Thomson", (whom you met, and with whom you held pleasant converse, in the course of which you elicited his expression of devotion to myself) clearly means to acquire through my work! -    Hitherto I have often out of amiability given him permission to have tiny reproductions of pictures of mine, produced in the Art Journal - But at least he asked - Now however you see he takes it all for granted -and boldly proceeds with the Swan Co. having even the amazing calmness to tell them to send me on the proofs for correction! - that he may further benefit by my known fastidiousness with my work! - And this is my first intimation of the affair! - -    "Affair", I may well call it! for the picture [p. 2] reproduced is the well known one "At the Piano[7]" - You may remember it at the "International[8]" last year? - And the Swan people are making a kind photogravure of it, upon an important scale!    I shall send you on a proof at once - & you will see that it could well be bought to frame and hang - I don't know what permission Thomson may have from Mr. Davis[9] who just lately bought the picture, for more than £2000 - probably a good bit more! through Thomson - who had to get his commission after the last owner had taken the £2000! - Though I suppose I have no copyright in the picture.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [June/October 1899]
Dated from reference to At the Piano (see below).

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

3.  ALfd
Written at right-angles to printed address.

4.  Mr. Thomson
David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more].

5.  Apprentice
Inez Eleanor Addams (fl. 1898-1927), née Bate, painter [more].

6.  Father
Presumably the father of a pupil at the Académie Carmen; possibly Wellington I. Addams (fl. 1855-1909), businessman, father of Clifford Addams [more].

7.  At the Piano
At the Piano (YMSM 24).

8.  International
Exhibition of International Art, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, London, 1898. The picture was cat. no. 177.

9.  Mr. Davis
Sir Edmund Davis (d. 1939), patron and collector, bought the picture from John James Cowan (1846-1936), paper manufacturer and collector [more], through Thomson on 24 May 1899.