The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 07292
Date: 11 November 1897
Author: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[1]
Place: New York
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W1280
Document Type: ALS


H W & CO.
868 B'WAY N- Y-

Nov 11th 1897.

My dear friend,

I am very busy indeed & have just time (I make time) to say that the Howells[2] are back. I have not seen Miss Howells, but I sent the lithograph[3] to her yesterday with a note.

As regards the French decorations, I can quite see why it would be all the world to some painters. They need it. You don't. Who cares if you have a medal or a bit of ribbon more or less?

And, as I have always contended, if the French admire you so much more than we do (which I deny), why should you have [p. 2] to give them £1000/-/- worth of painting to make them see it to the extent of a decoration? This is taking you on the assertion you made to me "I will be made lord of the blue ribbon" or some such thing "for that"! I contend that these decorations should be given, and I'm sure you agree with me.

The French have had Enough. Do they buy Whistler's of any kind? If blathering through their hats, and talk - polite and steely - of all sorts would do the buying, yes, but lip service is poor stuff for practical purposes.

David[4] is very much obliged to you for remembering him and sends his respectful compliments. He hopes to see you soon here, and to hear that you have got [p. 3] over the notion of giving a picture, which some one will would buy for our Museum, to "these 'ere bloody Frenchmen," as Byron[5] says.

All of which is respectfully submitted.

I did "the busy one"[6] injustice, owing to the stupidity of my informant. He meant your letter to the Daily Mail[7] which was reproduced in the Commercial here. It is one of those misunderstandings which Cannot be explained, so pray excuse me for being the victim of another's error.

Business is picking up. I have [p. 4] three portfolios of Whistler's etchings & lithos. out on approval to different people & hope for sales. It is time to finish the etchings of Paris now, so as to make some noise. Tell me what is going on, "busy" is somewhat vague. Are you painting, & if so, what?

You will see the "Annie Haden" for Pollitt[8] at Lauser's[9], should you care to look at it

Remember me to your own immediate circle, to Mr. & Mrs Pennell[10], and any one else (there isn't) who inquires for me. I heard from Wuerpel[11] the other day, who will write to you soon. I suppose you do not know that Homer Martin[12] is dead. Poor fellow, he is.

As ever, with best regards I am,
Sincerely yours


J. McN. Whistler Esq.

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1.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more]. JW called him O'K.

2.  Howells
John Mead Howells (1868-1959), architect [more], and Mildred Howells (1873-1966), painter and poet [more].

3.  lithograph
A Portrait: Mildred Howells (C.112).

4.  David
David A. Kennedy, New York dealer, brother of E. G. Kennedy [more].

5.  Byron
Henry James Byron (1834-1884), dramatist [more].

6.  the busy one
Not identified; he was first referred to in a letter from E. G. Kennedy to JW, #07290.

7.  letter to the Daily Mail
See Whistler, James McNeill, 'Mr. Whistler's Character. Acquitted of Being Known at the Royal Academy,' The Daily Mail, 14 October 1897, p. 3. The letter concerned JW's amusement at receiving an envelope addressed to him as 'not known' at the Royal Academy. See also JW to the Daily Mail, #09263, and the envelope, #13247.

8.  'Annie Haden' for Pollitt
Annie Haden, with books (K.8) or Annie Haden (K.62). Herbert Charles Pollitt (1871/1872-1942), patron [more], owned several works by JW and posed for the unfinished Portrait of H. C. Pollitt (YMSM 452).

9.  Lauser's
Gustave Lauser (b. ca 1841), London print-seller [more].

10.  Mr. & Mrs Pennell
Joseph Pennell (1860-1926) and his wife Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855-1936), née Robins, JW's biographers.

11.  Wuerpel
Edmund Henry Wuerpel (1866-1958), artist and teacher [more].

12.  Homer Martin
Homer Dodge Martin (1836-1897), landscape and coastal painter [more].