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

the on-line edition

System Number: 06766
Date: [15 July 1878][1]
Author: Alan Summerly Cole[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W760
Document Type: MsN

We got to talking about Venice, when his admiration for Tintoret & Veronese[3] flashed out in its reality - "Did you see Ruskin's guide[4] to the academyia there?" said he "and his partisanship with the Inquisitors[5] who dragged the painter before their court for sacrilege, in introducing dogs and various in his great picture of 'Jesus in the house of Levi'[6], (by the way the indictment itself was funny - dwarfs, dogs, germans & other indecencies)? Well, there you have typical Ruskinism - The sympathy of Mr Ruskin proves him the Philistine - He has no joy in the painter's work - How should he? no understanding of the decorative arrangement in the picture - For his literary appreciation, incident alone is [...][7]

[p. 2] 'Beginnings of two Artistes'[8]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [15 July 1878]
Dated from diary entry of A. S. Cole. On 15 July, Cole noted in his diary: 'J. turned up and I noted some of his remarks on Art for him.' See Alan Cole's Diary, #13132.

2.  Alan Summerly Cole
Written in the hand of Alan Summerly Cole (1846-1934), textile expert and museum official [more] (see note above). This note relates to JW's preparations for his libel suit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more], which took place from 25-26 November 1878. See also #06757-66, #12001.

3.  Tintoret & Veronese
A reference to Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti) (1519-1594), Venetian painter [more]; and Paolo Veronese (1528-1588), painter [more].

4.  guide
John Ruskin, Guide to the Principal Pictures in the Academy of Fine Arts at Venice, Venice, 1877.

5.  Inquisitors
A reference to an appendix in the Guide in which Ruskin quotes the story of Veronese's appearance before the Roman Inquisition on 8 July 1573 from Edward Cheney's translation Original Documents relating to Venetian Painters and their Pictures. On being asked the reason for his summons, Veronese is supposed to have replied: 'For the reason which the Reverend Prior of SS. Giovanni and Paolo, whose name I know not, told me that he had been here, and that your illustrious lordships had given him orders that I should substitute the figure of the Magdalen for that of a dog; and I replied that I would willingly have done this, or anything else for my own credit and the advantage of the picture, but that I did not think the figure of the Magdalen would be fitting (!!)* or would look well, for many reasons, which I will always assign whenever the opportunity is given me.' See John Ruskin, The Works of John Ruskin, E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn (eds.), 39 vols., London, 1906, vol. 24, p. 187. See also pp. 188-90.

6.  'Jesus in the house of Levi'
That is, Paolo Veronese, Paolo Veronese, Feast in the House of Levi (z80), then known by Ruskin as The Supper in the House of Simon.

7.  [...]
The text breaks off at this point.

8.  'Beginnings of two Artistes'
These words are written in pencil in another hand (possibly that of Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]).