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

the on-line edition

System Number: 06601
Date: [28/29 October 1891][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W594
Document Type: ALS


LE '15 Juin[3]' 189'1'

Of course I am not here Chinkie my own dear Luck -

but for the moment seated at this Café with Mallarmé[4] who sends messages wrapped in the latest rose leaves, I send you two words after this very busy day - most of it has been passed with the Belfonds[5] and the lithographs[.] I think they are well on the way - and tomorrow morning I shall be there to see the work begun on the stones - Meanwhile I have been - both of us together, Mallarmé and I to the Goupils[6] and I am to see Geoffroy[7] tomorrow - The Luxembourg is I really believe not so far off - for Proust[8] is no longer the Ministre des Beaux Arts, but an intimate friend of Mallarmé holds that post! - and the matter will be seen to at once! - Your letter my darling wicked Wam was none too long - and you will have to write and tell me all sorts of things - I certainly [p. 2] expect tomorrow morning an account of tonights Fagan[9] - You dont say that Webb[10] has promised to go with you both - but I hope he will -

Strange that there is no answer from Mr Orchar[11] about the etchings etc? -

The Antwerp business was amazing! - Of course it is francs - not pounds! -

But they told me that it is rare indeed that such a large sum for Belgium as 3000 francs should be awarded as damages[12] -

Harry[13] I saw - and went on to Brussels with him - Tomorrow there will be a full account of the affair - which is considered a great triumph - My Maeterlinck[14] is the cousin of the new Shakespeare[15] who was at dinner on Sunday to meet me - A great festival of immense ceremony! - You would [p. 3] have been delighted - I was in good humour and said a few things! - ! - not too many - There was the English Consul General[16] and every thing was most official! - ! Madame Maeterlinck[17], an Englishwoman - very nice - and quite good looking - also another lady youngish and pretty -

Everything very gay - and the ladies in powder!! At last I have seen it -

Well I don't know - It was droll and perhaps not bad after all -

The dinner really perfect -

Maitre Picard[18] came from Brussels on purpose and altogether a most important business! -

Well I shall get through as fast as the Belfonds will let me and be back directly - I fear that Geoffroy and Bing[19] have each had the Song on Stone[20] now that I think of it - So that I should give the etching to Bing, for I shall go there and promise something to the other -

[p. 4] Goodbye Chinkie dear, for today -

Mallarmé is enchanted with your idea of finishing the house with a thousand pound screen from Bings! -

I am going with him to dine and the Madame Méry[21] where I am to meet Huysmans[22] also - Of all that you shall here [sic] tomorrow - I wonder if the etchings will be at all advanced by this!!

Have you called upon the Bigelows[23]? The letter did not come from America -

Have you written to Stevenson[24]?

I enclose scrap from N. Y. Herald. They have only given part of sentence -

I am glad to hear of little woodblocks[25] - they will be lovely!

Love to both -

Tell me again about the roasting machine - I might perhaps manage -

Your own fond

[butterfly signature] -

Hotel du Helder -[26]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [28/29 October 1891]
Dated from reference to dinner (see below).

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. 'Chinkie', 'Luck' and 'Wam' are pet names for Beatrix.

3.  15 Juin
This date and year were added in another hand, probably that of Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].

4.  Mallarmé
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), Symbolist writer and poet [more].

5.  Belfonds
Lithographic printers in Paris.

6.  Goupils
Discussions on the purchase of Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101) for the Musée du Luxembourg had been initiated at the suggestion of David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more], then manager of the Goupil Gallery in London. JW was now going to see Thomson's counterpart, Maurice Joyant (1864-1930), art dealer, manager of Boussod, Valadon et Cie [more].

7.  Geoffroy
Gustave Geffroy (1855-1926), journalist and writer [more]. He contributed an article to Le Gaulois on 4 November 1891 on the importance of buying a work by JW (for a full account of the campaign see MacDonald, Margaret F., and Joy Newton, 'The Selling of Whistler's 'Mother',' The American Society Legion of Honor Magazine, vol. 49, no. 2, 1978, pp. 97-120).

8.  Proust
Antonin Proust (1832-1905), journalist, collector and politician [more]. He had been replaced as Ministre des Beaux-Arts by Henri Roujon (1853-1914), alias 'Henry Laujol', writer and administrator [more].

9.  Fagan
Louis Alexander Fagan (1845-1903), diplomat, writer on art, amateur artist, assistant in the Department of Engraving at the British Museum [more]. He had apparently dined with Beatrix and the Birnie Philips.

10.  Webb
JW's solicitors, G. and W. Webb.

11.  Mr Orchar
James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1888), engineer and collector [more]. His etchings are now in Dundee Art Gallery.

12.  damages
JW had brought an action against Sheridan Ford (1860-1922), poet, critic, politician and writer on art [more], to prevent publication of Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, ed. Sheridan Ford, Paris, 1890. JW won the case, Ford was fined 500 francs, with 3000 francs damages, and the 2000 copies of the edition were confiscated (see also #06600, #03761).

13.  Harry
Gérard Harry (fl. 1877-1890), journalist for L'Indépendance Belge [more].

14.  Maeterlinck
Maître Albert Maeterlinck, attorney in Antwerp [more], acted for JW in the case along with Maître Edmond Picard, whom Mallarmé also knew. A reception and dinner were held for Whistler on Sunday 25 October 1891.

15.  new Shakespeare
Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck (1862-1949), writer [more].

16.  English Consul General
Not identified.

17.  Madame Maeterlinck
Mme A. Maeterlinck, wife of the attorney [more].

18.  Maitre Picard
Maître Edmond Picard (1836-1924), lawyer, advocate and author [more].

19.  Bing
Siegfried ('Samuel') Bing (1838-1905), Paris art dealer and specialist in oriental art [more].

20.  Song on Stone
Songs on Stone (excat 19).

21.  Madame Méry
Méry Laurent (1849-1900), née Anne-Rose Louviot, actress and courtesan [more].

22.  Huysmans
Charles Marie Georges ('Joris Karl') Huysmans (1848-1907), author, poet and critic [more], who recorded a favourable impression of JW from this dinner with Méry Laurent.

23.  Bigelows
Charles Bowen Bigelow (1859-1924), secretary of the American Art Association [more].

24.  Stevenson
Robert Macaulay Stevenson (1860-1952), painter and art critic [more]. The letter that she was to write was probably a reply to one that Stevenson had written to JW from Liverpool earlier in October (see #05595).

25.  woodblocks
Beatrix, encouraged by JW, was working on some woodblock illustrations for William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more], B. Whistler, Illustrations to F. van Eeden, 'Little Johannes' (z225). They were never published.

26.  Hotel du Helder -
JW had stayed at the Hotel du Helder, in the rue du Helder, earlier in the year. In 1892 they were to establish themselves in Paris in a house of their own, at 110 rue du Bac.