The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 08306
Date: 15 August [1895][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: David Croal Thomson
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC
Document Type: ALS[2]

110 Rue du Bac

15 August '1895'

Dear Mr Thomson -

Would you really like to find yourself quoted in the second volume of the Gentle Art[3]?! - I had never thought of refering to you in any way - either in that noble work, or in any correspondence with the Art Gentlemen who are turning my pictures into large monies - which according to you the poor innocents themselves never touch!! -

[p. 2] Let me undeceive you about one thing - I have no "gossip" with you "about the prices" at which these people are selling my pictures -

All facts concerning my work belong to history and are for publication of course[4] - Nothing is to be done in a corner by these people - No shady transaction of theirs shall be hidden - no matter through what house it pass - Your very anxiety shows how furtive and questionable the whole business is felt to be -

But the facts themselves are not yours[5] - They must come to me, whether you give them me or no - Directly a picture is sent to you to sell, its price must be revealed to the purchaser - Why do you tremble? - I ask you what pictures have you now of Mr Chapmans[6] for sale, and what are their prices? - You must tell me in proper course of business - I may want to buy - I have bought before my own work from you - As to all the rest information always comes to me from the gentlemen who buy and who are delighted to tell me all I ask - Mr Pope[7] told me about the 1000 gns for the Potter picture[8] - and so with the "Little White Girl[9]" - the Nocturne and the others -

You have no right to withold from me names and prices of what you actually have in your shop, any more than from any other purchaser - "Sea and Rain[10]" which by the way the Gazette[11] did not call a Nocturne by chance - is openly announced as for sale at 300 gns - Mr Ionides[12] gave me £20 or £30 for it -

I have a perfect right to ask you, as director of Messrs Goupils business in London, any question about the sale of pictures of mine that are put into your hands - and very curious it would appear if Messrs Goupil's Director made any mystery about it! - Wherefore I ask you again for the name [p. 3] of the purchaser of my "Old Battersea Bridge[13]" - and what he paid for it? - Why should Messrs Goupil try to hide from me the whereabouts of pictures of mine they have sold - as though the transaction were a nefarious one!! - -

As you seem not to have delivered my message to Mr Ionides, I shall manage that myself - Indeed that was only casual in its intention - You may not meet again for years - if he have no more to sell! You have still the Tanagra[14] I suppose though -

The Tadema lecture[15] I thanked you for - and you saw the result in the Pall Mall of the 9th[16] -

I hope[17] you are now quite comfortable -
Very sincerely

J McN Whistler

Is Mr[18] Prange[19] in town?
I am pleased to know that my portrait after all belongs to a Scotchman[20] - -
Oh! I quite forgot about Mrs Williamson[21] - Have you seen her? -

This document is protected by copyright.


To - D. C. Thomson Esq
The Goupil Galleries
5. Regent Street
[postmark:] PARIS 80 / R. DU BAC / 7 E / 15 / AOUT / 95
[postmark on verso:] LONDON. S.W. / FI A / AU 16 / 95 / 2


1.  15 August [1895]
Dated from the postmark and the year written in another hand.

2.  ALS
'64C' is written in an unknown hand in red ink at top left and '145' in pencil at bottom right of p. 1, and also on the envelope.

3.  Gentle Art
Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890.

4.  course
Triple underlined.

5.  yours
'yours' and 'you' are double underlined.

6.  Chapman
Alfred Chapman (1839-1917), engineer and collector [more]; see JW to Thomson, 12 August 1895, #08362.

7.  Pope
Alfred Atmore Pope (1842-1913), manufacturer and collector [more].

8.  Potter picture
John Gerald Potter (1829-1908), wallpaper manufacturer and patron [more], who had sold Blue and Silver: Blue Wave, Biarritz (YMSM 41).

9.  Little White Girl
Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52).

10.  Sea and Rain
Sea and Rain (YMSM 65).

11.  Gazette
Actually the Speaker, not the Pall Mall Gazette: George Moore, 'The End of the Season', Speaker, 27 July 1895, p. 98.

12.  Ionides
Alexander ('Aleco') Ionides (1840-1898), businessman [more].

13.  Old Battersea Bridge
Brown and Silver: Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 33).

14.  Tanagra
An album of photographs of the tanagra figurines in the Ionides' collection was used by JW in an attempt to help sell them in 1894 (see Sketch after a Greek terracotta figure (M.1419)).

15.  Tadema lecture
Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), painter [more], had given a lecture to the students at the South Kensington Museum, which was published as 'Mr Alma Tadema on Art Training,' Times, no. 34,639, 26 July 1895, p. 8 (see #07527).

16.  Pall Mall of the 9th
Whistler, James McNeill, 'L'Influence du Jaune dans les Arts,' The Pall Mall Gazette, no. 9477, vol. 61, 9 August 1895, p. 2; see #10852.

17.  I hope
'I hope ... J. McN. Whistler' is written in the left margin of p. 3 at right angles to the main text.

18.  Is Mr
The remainder of the text is written in the left margin of p. 1 at right angles to the main text.

19.  Prange
Francis Gerard Prange (b. ca 1843), London art dealer [more].

20.  Scotchman
George McCulloch (1848-1907), collector [more], had bought Arrangement in Grey: Portrait of the Painter (YMSM 122) (see #05823).

21.  Mrs Williamson
Mrs Williamson, a companion or servant of Lady A. Campbell.