The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 07462
Date: [March 1895?][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: [newspaper editor][2]
Place: [London?]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler X36
Document Type: ALdS

Eden versus Whistler.[3]

Sir -

May I beg that, you will allow me to correct, through in your columns, certain errors now prevalent upon important points in this litigation -

First let me state emphatically that I did not confine myself to wiping out the face of the original portrait[4] -

I scrubbed out and pomeystoned off the entire picture - I then repainted entirely, from nature, upon the same panel, the what might be called a new picture - I placed my furniture, my background, and my accessories etc in the same disposition. I took the same furniture sofa - and, for background, hung behind it, the identical gold coloured curtains, of the former portrait. Another lady[5] took upon the sofa, as far as possible, absolutely the same pose, dressed in analagous [sic] colours - happily possessing a gown of a similar tone of brown - though naturally of a different nuance - Fairer and more golden, decidedly, [p. 2] The large sle[e]ves were of the same fashionable cut - A fur collar of the same sort of note - the muff carefully in the same place - The bottines of the same sort of yellow - the hat also had its feathers, and was posed, upon the sofa, in about the same spot - Now there was one marked difference in the costume of the two ladies, which I pointed out to the Judge - The first wore a jacket, whose furred edge ran accross [sic] the figure, and on the other side, continued beyond the knee, and lay upon the sofa, hanging slightly over in front - In the case of the second lady there was no jacket. The dress was all in one, and the lines of the figure were uninterrupted - Having now arranged my new work, I began, and painted from nature again the entire panel, producing this time the portrait of the second lady as carefully and as faithfully as before I had the portrait of the first lady - [In?]

Of the picture now seen the whole surface has be is new - The portrait doesn't exist no hundre[d]th part of an inch remaining of of the old & disputed portrait remaining!

And wWhen Sir William Eden swore in the Council [Ch?] that he recognised as the Judge said "le figure [illegible]", of his wife, he was again the victim of his eagerness! -

2nd The cheque cheque for hundred guineas which the Court orders me to return beside the picture (!) [p. 3] have always been at his disposal from the moment of the legal proceedings - but without the picture -

3rd - The picture that had been confided to the court for inspection was returned to me - and I gave my word not to touch it, "avec le pinceau[6]" as the President explained to me, until judgement given after it had been submitted to experts - Not at all as wrongly reported, did I engage myself never to touch the picture again -

J McN Whistler -

Paris -

[p. 4] Le tribunal[7] ayant manifeste [sic] publiquement cette [pensée?] qu'il pourrait avoir recours a une expertise a demande a Mr W s'il [réuga?] en lui remettant le tableau qu'il ne convenait renoncait a au lieu de le garder dans la chambre de [Conseil?] s'il s'engageait a ne pas y Ar le modifier jusqu'a la deci l'expertise. Mr W a pris cet engagement et non un autre

le juge en disant qu'il s'est engage a ne pas modifier le portrait sans fixer de limite à cet engagement semble aller au dela de la parole donnée par Mr W et pourrait donner lieu a des interpretations contre les quelles il proteste davance

Il serait d'ailleurs inadmissible, Mr W ayant declaré son tableau inachevé, qu'on lui impose a jamais et jusqu'a la fin des siecles de laisser son oeuvre en cet etat sans jamais y toucher.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [March 1895?]
Dated by the reference the Eden v Whistler case (see below).

2.  [newspaper editor]
Unidentified. The letter does not seem to have been published.

3.  Eden versus Whistler
Double underlined. The case brought against JW by Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], opened at the Civil Tribunal on 6 March 1895. The verdict on 13 March went against JW, who appealed to the Cour de Cassation. The appeal opened on 17 November 1897, by which time JW had defaced and repainted the painting. On 2 December JW won his case and was permitted to keep the picture. In a final appeal in April 1900 Eden was ordered to pay all expenses.

4.  portrait
Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), for which sittings began on 9 January 1894; in May the portrait was exhibited at 4th Exhibition, Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Paris, 1894. JW had refused to hand over the painting because he considered the payment insufficient. JW published an account of the whole affair: Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24]. See also Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, pp. 163-65, 196-99.

5.  Another lady
Margaret Curzon Hale (1872-1948), née Marquand, wife of H. D. Hale [more].

6.  avec le pinceau
Fr., with the brush.

7.  Le tribunal
Remainder written in an unknown hand, the other way up from the rest of the text.