Chinckie : - my own dear sweet Chinckie -
"I am talking to you Chinckie" - at breakfast - ! - by myself - I think I must get a little black book and talk to you on the leaves from time to time during the day as I go on - so that you will hear from me at different places and so to speak be with me - When I arrived this morning I sent off to Stevens[.] But after my bath - yes I knew that bath would at last happen - and of course the Coiffeur's - I came away from the Coiffeurs completely wonderful! - after all this I found a note from poor old Stevens regretting that he could not breakfast with me - of all things he would have wished to be in my company for he has l'âme bien triste! and so I combined the solitude of [p. 2] the occasion with the always latent sense of sax [i. e. six] pence, and instead of the Boulevards came down to our little Marchand de vin in the Place Gaillon - you remember - where I have done "extremely well" - Indeed as I look in the glass, I fancy that you would say that I have rather "silly eyes"! - On my way I could not resist walking through Durand Ruels' - and there I saw again that horrible "lampoon" of Chase's - Shocking - I told them so - The place for the first time seems to be full of people! - The young son tells me that all Americans go there - I shall see what I shall say to him about my possible exhibition - but I shall be careful - Oh! but Renoir! - There is a little room full of Renoirs - You have no idea! - I dont know what has happened to the eyes of every body - The things are simply childish - and a Degas absolutely shameful!! - If you were with me the two wams would hold each others hands as they thought of the beautiful Rosies and Nellies in the little drawer on the sofa!! - Take care of them Trixie - take the two drawers, just as they are, and carry them up stairs - dont let them be shaken, and cover them over with a little drapery and wait till I come back - We have no idea how precious they are! -
I don't seem to be in any hurry to bother about Montesquiou - but doubtless I shall go out to him tomorrow or the day after - I shan't stay many days - but I shall try and get at Mallarmé and settle about the Lemercier people for the lithograph business - William must send the framed etching all right to the Hotel du Helder - and by post parcel also send me two small copies of the Gentle Art - and two large copies - probably making two parcels of them - The journey across was like a mill pond - and the Stewart [sic] furnished me with ruggs [sic] - The wicked Bunnie - to whom many amiable things - of course gave me no silk socks! - perhaps a pair might be put over the glass of the etching -
Rosie had better be told to give Monday to some one else - after that I shall be back before Wednesday. Paris is lovely - !! - We must come here directly - and the Wam shall get garments for the sea side - [p. 3] I am off now - the rest later -
My dear Chinkie I have just come back from the Exhibition! - Oh! Chincks!!!! - Well you cannot imagine it - Bad - so jolly bad! - it is really stupendous how every thing is not only bad, but going on to the bad! baddest without stopping for breath - just galloping down - I don't believe that in London we would notice it so much, simply because there, nothing is of any quality whatever - there every thing is absolutely beneath notice and cannot even excite your contempt - There is the quiet trade of painting Parishoners [sic], beadles and Workus [i.e. workhouse] boys - and one year is what all years have been & will be - but here the painters you are forced to look at - and they seem to be gone stark staring mad after the Bad!! - The Impressionist analines (I can't even spell it) seem to have been spilled over all the palettes - Even the man Dannat, who by the way is right next to the really holy Valparaiso has mauve and ultramarine running into the huge legs of his Spaniard - and, by the same token, there is no B to be found any where - They must have got through with her! - But beyond this, the drawing is marvellous in its blatant badness! - The men seem to [have] thrown all tradition and discipline to the winds, in the crazy hope that something else shall take its place - Sargent's "Boy" that was supposed to be a masterpiece is horrible! - Boldini has some bad paintings & some hysterically clever pastels - but wildly out of drawing - My imitator Gandarini, of course I fancy I see something in - but I hope you would n't! - The Rosa Corder naturally is very austere and grand among these strange strugglings - but - we have better - and Oh horrors it struck me suddenly that she looked short! - I wonder? - Well well my dear Luck more tomorrow -
I shant stay long - I want to be at work with luck in my pocket again! - We must never stop, for we have much farther to go -
My own Trixie -
Love to Bunnie and do get Truth, Labby is splendid about Baccarat - His argument is of course word for word that of the Solicitor Genl. which makes you feel that logically Sir E. Clarke won the battle -
Hotel du Helder, Rue du Helder -
1. [11 June 1891?]
Dated by reference to the 'Baccarat case' (see below).
Published in Thorp, Nigel (Editor), Whistler on Art: Selected Letters and Writings 1849-1903 of James McNeill Whistler, Manchester, 1994, and Washington, 1995, no. 44, pp. 121-24.
5. l'âme bien triste
Fr., a sad soul.
JW planned two portraits of Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more]: Impressions de gris perle: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (YMSM 397) and Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (YMSM 398).
16. Gentle Art
Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890.
1st Exhibition, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1891.
28. Love to Bunnie
'Love to ... battle' is written at right angles to the main text in the left margin, and 'Hotel du ... Helder' in the right margin.
The Baccarat scandal originated in September 1890, at Tranby Croft, home of the shipbuilder Arthur Wilson. During a game of Baccarat with the Prince of Wales, another guest, Sir William Gordon-Cumming (1842-after 1907), army officer [more], was seen cheating. He signed an agreement to renounce gambling, in exchange to the silence of all present. However, the story became public and Gordon-Cummings brought a civil action for slander against his accusers. The case was heard before the Lord Chief Justice in June 1891. The Prince of Wales was subjected to merciless cross-examination, and there was general disapproval of his gambling, and rumours that he had acted incorrectly. The game of Baccarat was considered 'foreign' and gambling itself as immoral. Gordon-Cummings lost the case and was forced to leave the Army (see 'The Baccarat Case', The Times, 10 June 1891, p. 10, and 'Tranby Croft and Baccarat', The Times, 15 June 1891, p. 6).