The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06606
Date: [24 January 1892][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W599
Document Type: ALS


Well Trixie! -

No letters again! and after my telegram too - what can it all be? - Chinkie dear I hope there is nothing wrong! - My own darling Wam is not ill - I hope to Heaven that there is nothing really the matter - and that only in her own beautiful smooth round sunny southern way she has let the post run off from her without being absolutely ready! - But this will make me now three long days without a line from you Chinkie - for yesterday you contented yourself with popping the Fine Arts note[4] into an envelope, and tomorrow nothing comes from London! - Too bad of you Chinkie - You [p. 2] know how I miss you - you know how each morning I look forward to your talk with me - I doubt not you are very busy! - The dear "busy" Wam I can see from here, with paints and canvasses and boxes and furs and Bunnie[5] and the keys! - but you might write something! - If you only knew the love I have for the little notes - Well what is it all about? - Of course things here are endless - and the complications without termination! - Each day something - perhaps all to the good - but meanwhile most tantalizing - So that the work itself is not really properly got at - In the first I was only installed in the Studio of Gandara's friend[6] on Tuesday night - The next day, Wednesday I had an afternoon with Montesquiou[7] - very quiet - and doing I believe a great deal of good to the head - well then as I told you he announced that the Friday had to be given up to the "World" - whereupon I made up my mind that I would not touch the background and figure until afterwards - (p. 3) for I was determined to go through with the whole picture in one perfect final coating - for which I had been enabled to prepare the canvass with one last scraping, and pommice stoning and washing and the terrible bag of tricks that we know only too well! - Therefore I would only commence when I could be assured that we would be quite safe from further intrusion - Bon! - That was agreed to - Thursday consequently went for nothing - a little tinkering at the hand which only proved to me that I was right - Then Friday - and the beau monde - of which I am longing to tell you! - only let me get through my griefs first - for I must put all my troubles into the lap of my dear beautiful Luck - that she may do her great Obi always all so bold - that all may be well -

Well then it is arranged that the proper owner of this most fascinating studio shall know who is his guest - Whereupon on the Saturday (yesterday) there comes (p. 4) in the morning, his answer - to say that he is charmed to be of any service to Monsieur Whistler - for whom his admiration is very great - and he begs him to consider the place his own - for as long as he likes - This is all delightful - and looked upon as most becoming - and "respectueux" - and all the rest of it - but then - he the unknown host, - must come to Paris on the Sunday, and stay through until, at least the Tuesday! - So that again no chance of beginning - again the unfortunate black work toiled with and struggled back into its box - to be kept in hiding until this new comer shall have got himself away into the Country again! - Isn't it terrible! - So that after all these journies and mysteries I have only have one little sitting that at all is to the good - I try to think it all for the best - and propose to captivate this painter landlord - or rather host - by asking him to dinner - and then I may be permitted at last to begin on this next Wednesday, or even Tuesday and (p. 5) perhaps then carry it right through - dont you think so Chinkie? - I ought really to manage it in 3 or 4 days if I dont get to[o] demoralised! so you must do great Obis - and the "Blanche with the hump[8]" had better put up a candle -

Now then - Drouet[9] the little man came there the other night just as I was finishing my letter to you - and he it was who brought me the little old photograph - and while I was longing to ask him for it, he said of his own accord - take it and send it to your wife - and tell her that it [is] one that you have just sat for - "Car, mon cher,[10] vous n'avez pas du tout changé"! Wasn't it nice of him - And you didn't care for it Chinkie! - I thought it would have given you such pleasure - and not a word!! -

Well we went off and dined together at the old "Pérouse[11]" - you know on the quai - and afterwards back to the students ball - the "Closerie de Lilacs" - (p. 6) to see what it would all look like again! - for he also it appears had not been inside it "for years - and years - and years"! - Well Chinkie - it was probably not much changed - in character - if that be a way of looking at it - but any impression of the picturesque that I might have remembered had gone - The students themselves are much more like common place mashers or clerks - The Gavarni[12] kind of wonderful people in great hats and amazing trousers were gone - and the Grisettes with or without caps were no longer there - supplanted by the sort of appearances we both saw together that night at the other place - Still there were one or two "types" - I did see an amazingly tall hat or so with marvellous broad brim - and there were some costumes - it being about Carnaval time - but poor - and rather shamefaced & shabby - and then there was some dancing - two couples certainly amazing! - I should have liked you to see it - but still - upon the whole I was rather bored - and we came away - and "so to bed" like Mr. Pepys[13] - Drouet back to his damp Joan of Arc[14]! and I to my big red room - all in scarlet chinz - to think of his dear absent Wam - and to long for her - and to believe that the little souvenir of the early "Jim" would give her (p. 7) pleasure when she opened the envelope and found the surprise - and now she has said to him never a word - and he is woefully disappointed! -

Chinkie I am having a nice long talk with you - this Sunday afternoon - and yet I shall have scarcely time to tell you half - not that so much has happened - but I miss you so continually - without you I am forlorn - and you know it - and you are my own dear sweet bad Wam! - How can you leave me like this without your daily little letters! - They are delightful when they come - the last so charming - so dear to me - and so encouraging to the poor grinder - exiled with his big black mangle! - We are much to be envied though I know - for I look round and I see no others so happy as we two are in each other. - I suppose we are even a little spoilt in the luxury of this knowledge - and so the Wam bullies her man and says he is cross and beats him! -

On Friday then, le grand monde! - Breakfast with "the Count[15]" - and the (p. 8) "respectueux" business started for the day - Bignons on the Boulevards - and the old want of appetite! - These déjeuners in Paris are really terrible - you & Bunnie must never be without your pepsine[16]! - Enfin! We cross the street to the Vaudeville - carriages and "good people" without end - and at last we are seated - I am placed behind the "ra-vi-sante" Grefhule[17] - who is queen of the groupe - with Madame de Montebello[18] on the one side and a Russian Princesse[19], who speaks to me in English, on the other! - The Prince de Polignac[20] in front turns round and says most amiable things - I am introduced to the Prince de --[21] famous Italian - always in debt and always charming - I am fêted and made much of - and all the "respectueux" jiggery goes entirely to the winds!! The Comtesse asks if I stay long in Paris and I tell her that I am waiting for my own beautiful Wam - and I look well at them all and I know, as I always did know, that among them, there would be no one more "belle" as Drouet says, and no one more attractive from their own point of view than his own gypsie Trix! - and I am quite settled and superior in this matter and only wish she could have a peep at him in this "hoight of fine company" - In the midst of it all there appears "Monsieur le Ministre[22] de l'Instruction Publique et des Beaux-Arts" - and I am presented between two bars of the music - which after all turns out to be Bach[23], and not Wagner[24] - I dont see Chinkie how you will ever read all this long epistle! - I ought to stop - But I must tell you of the final triumph - An improvised party! Directly (p. 9) the Concert finished, Madame Gréfhüle, the Count of course, and a whole bouquet of Princes go over to Goupils! - and sit for two hours in Joyants[25] little entresol, and stare at the B.[26] who goes up in price - and up in chance of being gobbled by the fish! They look at the pastels and the little landscape and admire the lithographs and altogether the whole thing amazing! - Un succes colossale! to be spread all over Paris in the next few hours as Montesquiou said - who was enchanted! - He has quite settled that when the picture is finished we are to have a "five o'clock" in the studio "pour feter[27] l'arrivé de Madame Trixie et votre belle soeur" and then he will read his great piece!! - So there! - Now Chinkie your nice large envelope with your delightful little letter has just come - and we must I suppose give up scolding each other - it is only the time that is always ahead of us because of the clocks and things with which we have no connection - You and I are all right - and the post is in too great a hurry! - You ask me if I have seen Heinemann[28]? - I should think so! - I have dined with him and he has dined with me - and I went with him to the Moulin Rouge - [p. 10] which is big noisy and rowdy - and we also heard the famous Yvette Guilbert[29] - and she was not to compare with Chaumont[30] though I daresay Walter Sickert[31] might have at once proposed to paint her - Tomorrow morning I am to meet Heinemann again and go to Belfonds[32] - and I am afraid that the dear blind Bunnie has lost the contract she promised to pack off to Webb[33], for H. has never seen it yet - He is to leave tomorrow - and it is a mercy that he could not make out the name of my hotel until it was too late or he would have come there to stay with me -

And now Goodnight my own darling dear Chinkie Wam -
Do plenty of Obi and bless your own fond

[butterfly signature]

Love to Bunnie -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [24 January 1892]
Dated by the references to the studio, the day of the week (Sunday) and the sequence of letters. It could possibly have been sent on the following day, 25 January, in which case the envelope for it may be #06609.

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. JW calls her 'Trixie', 'Wam' and 'Chinkie'.

3.  21 Cheyne Walk
Embossed orange letterhead.

4.  fine arts note
M. B. Huish had written to JW on 21 January 1892 (#01239).

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

6.  Gandara's friend
Joseph-Félix Bouchor (1853-1937), genre and landscape painter [more], had a second floor studio at 22 rue Monsieur le Prince, where Antonio de la Gandara (1862-1917), portrait painter and pastellist [more], had his studio.

7.  Montesquiou
Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more]. He was posing for Arrangement in Black and Gold: Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (YMSM 398).

8.  Blanche with the hump
Not identified.

9.  Drouet
Charles L. Drouet (1836-1908), sculptor and collector [more]. What early photograph of JW he gave JW is not known.

10.  Car mon cher
'Car, mon cher ... changé', Fr., 'Because, my friend, you have not changed at all!'

11.  Perouse
Well-known café in Paris.

12.  Gavarni
Paul Hippolyte-Guillaume-Sulpice Chevalier Gavarni (1804-1846), designer and lithographer [more].

13.  Mr. Pepys
Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), diarist [more].

14.  Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc (1412-1432), saint. The statue has not been located.

15.  the Count
Montesquiou (see above).

16.  pepsine
Pepsine is an enzyme produced by the stomach; however, what JW probably means is some sort of patent medicine containing pepsine (such as Dr Caldwell's Syrup of Pepsin) to alleviate indigestion.

17.  Grefhule
Elisabeth, Comtesse Greffulhe (1860-1952), née Riquer de Caraman-Chimay [more].

18.  Madame de Montebello
Mme Marie Louise Hortense Madeleine de Montebello (m. 1873), née Guillemin, society hostess [more].

19.  Russian Princesse
Not identified.

20.  Prince de Polignac
Edmond, Prince de Polignac (1834-1901), composer [more].

21.  Prince de --
Not identified.

22.  le Ministre
Henri Roujon (1853-1914), alias 'Henry Laujol', writer and administrator [more].

23.  Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), composer [more].

24.  Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner (1813-1883), composer [more]. JW had expected to hear the opera Lohengrin (see #06605, #06607).

25.  Joyants
Maurice Joyant (1864-1930), art dealer, manager of Boussod, Valadon et Cie [more].

26.  B.
Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242). It did not find a purchaser in Paris.

27.  pour feter
'pour ... soeur', Fr., to celebrate the arrival of Madame Trixie and your sister-in-law.

28.  Heinemann
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more], hoped to publish a set of JW's lithographs, Songs on Stone (excat 19).

29.  Yvette Guilbert
Yvette Guilbert (1867-1944), caberet singer and actress [more].

30.  Chaumont
Céline Chaumont (1848-1926), singer, actress and dancer [more].

31.  Walter Sickert
Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), artist and writer on art [more].

32.  Belfonds
Lithographic printers. Heinemann and JW had the firm in mind to produce a series of lithographs, Whistler, James McNeill, Songs on Stone, London, [n.d.] (see Heinemann to JW, #02083).

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