The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 08205
Date: 2 May 1892
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: David Croal Thomson[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 3
Document Type: ALS

33. Rue de Tournon. Paris -

May 2 - 1892.

Dear Sir -

I have received your telegram - and hope the Fire wheel[2] will be here all right by tomorrow night - or Wednesday morning - Also doubtless Mr J. J. Shannon[3] will kindly lend you his Sea Piece - which even if it leaves tomorrow would still be here to be hung before Friday -

Photographs[4] - Arrived all right - My first impression of their appearance is upon the whole a good one - One or two however want slight retouching - and some are much too dark in printing -

I should think indeed that with more time and good light better proofs of many might be obtained -

There is a much finer[5] proof of Mr Potters[6] little White Girl, at my brother's - Dr. Whistler[7], 17. Wimpole St. Borrow it - and I have no doubt that Mr Potter will let you have the picture again so that you can at once take another photo. of the same size[8] as Dr. Whistlers - for that negative is lost - Also you ought to get a better photo. of Mr. Potters "Nocturne Cremorne lights[9]" - The present one is entirely to [sic] murky and dark - It might also be smaller -

His Blue Wave[10] on the other hand is beautiful -

The Fur Jacket[11] - is much too dark - Mr Sickert[12] has a proof of the picture (in an earlier state - but that doesn't matter) showing how much finer it would be -

The Lady Meux[13] ought to give a sharper result -

The Carlyle[14] should be much fairer in the printing -

The Music Room - ought to be done again . - Smaller[15] - It is an early work and comes out too hard - As you have the picture you can take it at leisure -

Mr Orchars Nocturne[16], has a blemish - white spot, by [p. 2] the boats - this ought to be got rid of in the negative -

Mrs Leylands Nocturne[17] - might be clearer - (Mr Alexander[18]'s is perfect!) perhaps you had better borrow the picture again - it is so very bright - The photograph gives no true rendering of it -

I am sure the Miss Corder[19] ought to give a much finer and lighter result - See how well the portrait of my Mother[20] came out in the photograph done in Paris -

Indeed the Portraits all are too hard and purple black - They ought to be fairer and more golden brown -

The two firework picture[s][21] are marvellous! - and are wonderful proof of the completeness of those works.

Album - Now what about the get up of all this? - Of course the mounts will be of much finer quality - They ought to look like hand made mounts - the whole thing ought to be luxurious in its appointment - even if the price be higher - It should certainly not have a poor cheap appearance -

Graves[22] . You are now in complete error as to the royalty you believe you are to pay him - I thought I had written to you telling you of Mr Algernon Graves'[23] visit to me in Paris, and that he entirely withdraws all claim whatsoever - We are not to give him one penny -

I cannot at this moment enter into all the details of the conversation - but you may simply accept the fact. There is never to be a question about it again - for this I have his word -

I wish you would write me more in detail of all that you have thought about the form of publication -

You ought to get an old portfolio from Huish[24] or the Dowdeswells[25] (on your own hook!) that I brought out with the Venice[26] Etchings - that would give you a starting point - Of course I should improve upon the original -

This must go at once.

Yours very truly

J. McN. Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  David Croal Thomson
David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more].

2.  Fire wheel
Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169).

3.  Mr J. J. Shannon
James Jebusa Shannon (1862-1923), genre and portrait painter [more] owned Sea and Rain (YMSM 65).

4.  Photographs
A selection of photographs of the oils that had been shown at Nocturnes, Marines and Chevalet Pieces, Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Goupil Gallery, London, 1892.

5.  much finer
Double underlined.

6.  Mr Potters
John Charles Potter (1854-1920), wallpaper manufacturer and collector [more], who owned Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52).

7.  Dr. Whistler
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

8.  same size
Double underlined.

9.  Nocturne Cremorne lights
Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Cremorne Lights (YMSM 115).

10.  Blue Wave
Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz (YMSM 41).

11.  The Fur Jacket
Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181).

12.  Mr Sickert
Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), artist and writer on art [more].

13.  The Lady Meux
Arrangement in Black: Lady Meux (YMSM 228).

14.  Carlyle
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137).

15.  Smaller
Triple underlined.

16.  Mr Orchars Nocturne
James Guthrie Orchar (1825-1888), engineer and collector [more]. He owned Nocturne: Grey and Silver - Chelsea Embankment, Winter (YMSM 205).

17.  Mrs Leylands Nocturne
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more] owned Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 113).

18.  Mr Alexander
William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), banker and patron [more] owned Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea (YMSM 103).

19.  Miss Corder
Arrangement in Brown and Black: Portrait of Miss Rosa Corder (YMSM 203).

20.  portrait of my Mother
Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101).

21.  firework picture[s]
Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169) and Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170).

22.  Graves
Henry Graves (1806-1892), print dealer and founder of H. Graves and Co. [more].

23.  Mr Algernon Graves'
Algernon Graves (1845-1922), of H. Graves and Co., print dealers [more].

24.  Huish
Marcus Bourne Huish (1843 - d.1921), barrister, writer and art dealer, Director of the Fine Art Society [more].

25.  Dowdeswells
London art dealers.

26.  Venice
Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice, 1880 (the first 'Venice Set') (K. 183-189, 191-195). (excat 5), or A Set of twenty-six etchings of Venice, 1886 (the second 'Venice set') (K.196-216, 233-237). (excat 6).