The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 08748
Date: 3 December [1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: [none]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 4/24 or 4/28
Document Type: ADS

Dec. 3

[butterfly signature]

Potage[2] Paysanne -
   Turbot -
     Compote de Pigeons -
       Gigot de Mouton - haricots -
          Alouettes en canapé -
             Mince Pies -
                Compote de Pommes -


Miss B[3] was [illegible] house [illegible word] 22d June 1878
At [two illegible words] [sunday?]


Huddlestone[4] drunk = asked the policeman his name[.] Paul said the peeler[5][.] Ah said Hudd[,] did you ever hav[e] an answer to your Epistle to the [Corinthians?]

[p. 2, written in another hand:]
Albert Mansions[6]
15 Holland Lane
Kensington -

[written over the address, in former hand:] Ruskins witnesses saw the Titian[7] and began to abuse it thinking it was one of Whistlers

Howell[8] said he thought he would have won the cause - Yes said Whistler if you had been a witness we should all have been [hanged?].

The stuttering [story?] to Whistler Coxcomb[9] why Ruskin is a C C C Cox c o m b and as to Impostor you should have called Mrs. Millais[10] the world has proven he was an Impos pos pos ppp tor

[p. 3, written in another hand:] The Titian ah said Howell I know the Titian it was bought in Piccadilly

As to the story of the Judge & Geo III[11]

Merritt[12] kept it as a [two illegible words]
Howell owes £5
Old [Forrest?] said if I shit on a canvass [sic] they would buy it

'21   &   21*'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  3 December [1878]
Year dated from butterfly signature, and from context of court case (see below). JW bought turbot and shrimps from J. S. Charles the fishmonger on 3 December 1878 (#08849).

2.  Potage
The menu, written partly in French, consisted of a country vegetable soup, turbot, pigeon stew, a gigot of mutton with haricot beans, larks, mince pies, stewed apple, and coffee. It was an elaborate menu, possibly to celebrate the outcome of the Whistler v. Ruskin trial of the previous week.

3.  Miss B
Possibly Alice L. Bird (b. ca 1833), sister of Dr George Bird [more]. 'Miss B... [sunday?]' is written on the right side of the page, side-on, in another hand. The remainder of this document was written in this other hand, possibly that of James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more]. It was possibly a record of conversation during the meal, and gradually becomes increasingly incoherent.

4.  Huddlestone
Sir John Walter Huddleston (1817-1890), High Court Justice, Exchequer Division [more]. This paragraph is written on the upper-right side of the page, side-on, in another hand. According to Merrill, 'Huddleston's remarks had at times been so obtuse, repetitive, and contradictory that Anderson Rose surmised the judge had been drunk', and cites this note as an example of Rose's opinion. However, although it may well reflect general opinion, it appears only to be a note by Rose of an after-dinner joke (Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, p. 202, n. 5).

5.  peeler
Popular name for a policeman, named after the founder of the police force, Sir Robert Peel (1788-1850), British statesman and Prime Minister (1834-1835, 1841-1846) [more].

6.  Albert Mansions
This document was continued on scraps of paper and an envelope. Both JW and Rose knew several people who had apartments in Albert Mansions on Victoria Street, Westminster. A possible recipient of the envelope would have been Emmanuel Maguire Underdown (1831-1913), barrister [more].

7.  Ruskins witnesses saw the Titian
In 1864 John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more], had bought a painting attributed to Titian, Vincenzo Catena, Portrait of the Doge Andrea Gritti (z64). Despite doubts over its condition and authenticity, it was brought to the Whistler v. Ruskin trial on 25-26 November 1878 by Arthur Severn at the request of Ruskin's solicitors. As Merrill recounts, 'When the portrait was brought into the dark chamber - upside down, according to Whistler - one of the jurors is said to have exclaimed, "Oh, come, we've had enough of these Whistlers!"' Burne-Jones called it 'a beautiful example of Titian's work [...] a highly finished work,' whereas JW's work, he said, showed 'want of finish.' However, it was generally considered a ridiculous comparison, which, if anything, bolstered JW's case. Now fully restored, and attributed to Vincenzo Carena, the portrait is in the National Gallery in London (Merrill, 1992, op. cit., pp. 127-28, 174-75, 191, 208, 250, 268-69, repr. pl. 9).

8.  Howell
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

9.  Coxcomb
Reviewing 1st Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1877, Ruskin wrote: 'For Mr. Whistler's sake, no less than for the protection of the purchaser, Sir Coutts Lindsay ought not to have admitted works into the gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of the artist so nearly approached the aspect of wilful imposture. I have seen, and heard, much of Cockney impudence before now, but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face.' (Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213).

10.  Mrs. Millais
Euphemia ('Effie') Chalmers Millais (1828-1898), née Gray, formerly Mrs John Ruskin [more]. Ruskin's impotence was the chief cause of their marital break-up.

11.  Geo III
George III (1738-1820), King of Great Britain [more]. Rose seems to have left out the punch line, assuming there was one.

12.  Merritt
Merritt, unidentified.