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

the on-line edition

System Number: 06607
Date: [19 January 1892][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W600
Document Type: ALS



LE      189    

What can you think of the enveloppe[3] Chinkie dear! - still there it is - all so absolutely "other"! - I do wish you were here - Chink! though you know I ought to have had all sorts of things from you this morning - for I sent my telegram yesterday early - but you were all out - with Edward[4]!! - !!! - seeing him off at the Docks or something and didn't get back until too late for the post! - Chinkie my own dear Wam the news from der Paulus[5] is lovely! - and here Mallarmé[6] tells me that there is later on to be an immense! banquet to be given to me by the "Temps"[7] - at which there will be present at least 150 of the great [p. 2] litérateurs of France - on the occasion of the Rosette! - that is settled - but I am of course frightened to death! - what shall I say! - You will have to sit up on a throne and do Obi! with all your arms full of bouquets! - Well to begin back - Montesquiou[8] came in the morning - expecting to meet you - beautiful of course - and with the most marvelous arrangement of flowers especially tortured out of their natural condition - Pinks and sweet peas - all blue and green!! Certainly wonderful - He was hugely disapointed - because of course there he was - and what was he to do with his hands full of this amazing garden for you! - However he means to try it again - and indeed his intentions seem to involve all sorts of difficulties of toilette - for he had engaged a box for our arrival at the Opera!! - Lohengrin[9] and I dont know what all! What do you think - can you look up [p. 3] any of the old Nicolls[10] "frocks"? or must I say that we are only here incognito! and that you wont go out this time - He also looks forward to the astonishment and joy that Miss Philip[11] shall testify upon her first visit to Paris! - I think he fancies that after all we must be well off! - What with the buying of new houses and building and all that - - He was much impressed by my refusing to go to the Luxembourg[12] without you - and so he ran in himself while I was at the telegraph office to bring me news that I might tell you - and was much pleased to find, in contemplation, a high well born Lady, the Princesse[13] de ... some connection I suppose! - so that we can be secure in the knowledge that we appeal to the bluest blood while the rest standing about were "respectueux[14]" - and becoming in their demeanour! -

I have seen the studio[15]! - Very well - but I am not quite sure - I am rather afraid [p. 3] that it differs too much in light - "however" - The hotel is well enough - but I think I shall have to find something else - This I will of course let you know - I am glad that the background is all right - but I am afraid the fullers earth has been forgotten - Can you send the lithographs and frames? - I called on the Winans[16] - but did not see them - their baby is ill -

Find me Reids[17] letter - and Maus[18]? -

I dined here last night alone, and the garçon called me Monsieur le Comte!!? Really Foyots is the best and cheapest restaurant of the whole lot - but how funny the change in the old quartier Latin - all the men mashers! in porcelain white collars & ties! - I called on Drouet[19] and if you could only have been with me you would have had fits of laughter over him and a new statue of Jeanne d'Arc[20]! it reminded me of the old time with the colossal Gericault[21]! - I send you two papers that you must send on to Whibley[22] - Whistler you see every where - My own darling write every day to your loving

[butterfly signature]

Send me[23] Paulus' telegram -

Love to Bunnie[24]!

The elegant blind Bunnie! You should see the things she has packed together in the trunk! -

Really my rags are perhaps a little too bad! - Starr[25] was very nice -

This document is protected by copyright.


Mrs. J. McNeill Whistler
21. Cheyne Walk
[postmark:] PARIS. 6 / R. DE VAUGIRARD / 8E / 19 / JANV / 92
[postmark on verso:] LONDON S. W. / K F / JA 20 / [illegible]


1.  [19 January 1892]
Dated by postmark. JW had just arrived in Paris, hence the reference to unpacking his trunk.

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

3.  enveloppe
Fr., envelope; the envelope is very small, so the sheet was folded four times to fit.

4.  Edward
Edward Godwin (b. 1876), son of Beatrix and E. W. Godwin; JW's step-son [more].

5.  der Paulus
Adolf Paulus (b. 1851), business manager of the Kϋnstlergenossenschaft and instigator of the Munich Secession in 1893 [more], had sent a telegram to JW on 16 January 1892 (#04212).

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

7.  Temps
On 30 January 1892, JW heard officially that he had been promoted to the rank of Chévalier de la Légion d'honneur (#05252). Reported in the Paris Figaro, 31 January 1892 (GUL, Whistler Chronological Press-Cuttings).

8.  Montesquiou
Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more]. JW was hoping to complete his portrait (see #06606, #06603, #06608 and #06003). This section of the letter was published in Newton, Joy, 'La Chauve-souris et le Papillon: Correspondance Montesquiou-Whistler,' Nottingham French Studies, vol. 20, no. 1, May 1981, p. 152.

9.  Lohengrin
Richard Wagner's Romantic opera, first performed in 1850.

10.  Nicolls
Possibly Henry John Nicoll, clothier and outfitter at 114, 116, 118 and 120 Regent Street.

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

12.  Luxembourg
Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101) had been bought by the French Government for the Musée du Luxembourg.

13.  Princesse
Not identified.

14.  respectueux
Fr., respectful.

15.  studio
JW borrowed a studio from a friend of Antonio de la Gandara (1862-1917), portrait painter and pastellist [more], in order to paint Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1855-1921), Symbolist writer and poet, and collector [more].

16.  Winans
It is not known which members of the extensive Winans family, originally from Baltimore, were in France at this point.

17.  Reids
Alexander Reid (1854-1936), Glasgow dealer [more]. His letter of 11 January 1892 discussed the opening date of a possible exhibition of pastels (#05126).

18.  Maus
Octave Maus (1856-1919), advocate, writer and art critic [more]. No letter from this date has been located, but this may have related to the Libre Aesthetique (see #09316).

19.  Drouet
Charles L. Drouet (1836-1908), sculptor and collector [more].

20.  statue of Jeanne d'Arc
Drouet's statue of Joan of Arc has not been identified.

21.  Gericault
Drouet worked for years on a large model of Théodore Géricault (1791-1824), painter [more].

22.  Whibley
Charles Whibley (1859-1930), writer and journalist [more].

23.  Send me
'Send ... telegram' was written in the top left margin, at right angles to the main text, and 'Love ... very nice' in the top right corner of p. 1.

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

25.  Starr
Sidney Starr (1866 or 1867-1925), painter [more].