The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 08114
Date: 12 June 1892
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Stephen Richards[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/44/2
Document Type: ALS[2]

33. Rue de Tournon. Paris

June 12 - 1892 -

Dear Sir -

I have just received the five small paintings[3] on millboard - (sketches of figures & sea) - that you have cleaned & varnished for me. They look pure and brilliant as on the day they were painted! -

But while you were about it, I wish enough you had seen to the condition of their backs - They were put down upon other cardboards some time ago, and they are all loose and bent about now -

In short they had been badly done -

. . . . Also how is it that they [p. 2] come back to me without their frames? ! ! -

How could you let them leave your place, clean and freshly varnished as they were, unframed!

This is so unlike your usual thoughtfulness and great care! I was horrified! However happily they are unharmed. -

About the large Nocturne[4] of Cremorne that comes with them - What did you do to this? -

I wanted you to clean it and take off whatever varnish there may have been upon it - and send unvarnished, that I might paint upon it. I have not examined it closely - but at first sight it doesn't seem as if you had done anything to it at all? -

Now[5] I understand that you will have brought to you, almost directly, four more[6] pictures by me; I have said that you are the only man fit to touch my work, therefore, you must prove again how right I am, in having this full confidence in you. You will clean and take off the varnish with the utmost care and tenderness - Two of the pictures have not been cleaned since they were first painted. They ought all to come out in the most brilliant condition. One, - "The Balcony" you can use your own judgment about. The little Thames picture and the seapiece are painted as well as I remember, in one go [p. 3] and consequently are not so much impasted, therefore will require your utmost care -

Let me have a line from you telling me how you get on with them, and above all no one is to know that you are occupied with them, and not a soul is to see them.

Very truly yours,

J McN. Whistler

To Mr. Richards, Berners Street

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1.  Stephen Richards
Stephen Richards (b. ca 1845), picture restorer [more].

2.  ALS
Written in purple ink. Published in Grasberger sale catalogue, c.1926, p. 4, item 7.

3.  paintings
Venus (YMSM 82), Symphony in Blue and Pink (YMSM 86), Symphony in White and Red (YMSM 85), Variations in Blue and Green (YMSM 84), and Symphony in Green and Violet (YMSM 83).

4.  Nocturne
Possibly Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169), about which Whistler had written to D. C. Thomson in May (#08202, #08204).

5.  Now ... Very truly yours,
Written in hand of Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. The letter is then finished off by JW.

6.  four more
The Last of Old Westminster (YMSM 39); Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville (YMSM 64); Battersea Reach (YMSM 45); Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56).