The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 09149
Date: [4 November 1898?][1]
Author: JW
Place: [Paris]
Recipient: William Heinemann[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PLfc[3]


[...] Go I were [sic] to see George[4] - I might effect him for the time - and I believe I should do so. He would better understand my strength, and the clear sense of right that I could impress upon the Court. Still nothing shall upend [sic] his own knowledge of that Court - and to begin with it's expenses. [sic] I only mean that he himself would understand that I have a right to keep my reputation clean. [...] Still I do regret the tilt in the arena and the tearing up of The Baronet[5] before the people publickly [sic] for righteousness sake! I should have won over the Judge - and you must tell George of the foreman of the jury having furtively crept near as I came out of the Low [sic] Courts, after the Pennell Trial [6][...] Meanwhile we cannot alter a word of the beautiful work. And also you would more like to be out of it. This then you shall manage [...]

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [4 November 1898?]
Dated from the reference to the Eden v. Whistler cases (see below).

2.  William Heinemann
This may be a draft or version of a letter either to William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more] or Elisabeth Lewis (1844-1931), née Eberstadt, wife of G. H. Lewis [more]. The reference to 'a beautiful work' suggests that the letter was addressed to Heinemann, and referred to the publication of Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24]. JW told Heinemann that he had written a letter on this subject to Lewis, [4 November 1898], #10809. The letter to E. Lewis also contains similar phraseology, #10985.

3.  PLfc
This excerpt was published in a sale catalogue, American Art Association, New York, 8-9 February 1927 (lot 321) described as '2pp. 4to'. It is obviously inaccurate, because it contains several mis-spellings and meaningless phrases.

4.  George
Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].

5.  Baronet
This relates to JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], over Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), a portrait of Eden's wife. JW was dissatisfied with his work and refused to hand it over, claiming that it was the artist's right to withhold a picture in such circumstances. Eden instituted legal proceedings against him which dragged on until December 1897 when JW, on appeal, was permitted by the Cour de Cassation in Paris to keep the picture provided that he did not make use of it. In Paris on 13 May 1899 JW published his account of the Eden case: Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24].

6.  Pennell
The libel action between Joseph Pennell (1860-1926), printer and illustrator, JW's biographer [more], and Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), artist and writer on art [more]. Sickert had publicly alleged that Pennell's method of drawing on transfer paper instead of directly onto the lithographic stone could not be regarded as true lithography (Sickert, W. R., 'Transfer Lithography', Saturday Review, 26 December 1896; and see also Sickert, W. R.,'The Master of the Transfer Lithograph, The Speaker, 13 March 1897). The editor of the Saturday Review, Frank Harris, backed Sickert, and published correspondence relating to the dispute between himself and the lawyers, Lewes and Lewes. Pennell proposed to take Harris and Sickert to court. He consulted Sir George Lewis and then engaged Sir Edward Clarke, QC. The case was heard on 5-6 April 1897 at the King's Bench Division. Frederick Goulding (1842-1909), printer and print-maker [more], and Thomas Robert Way (1861-1913), printer, lithographer and painter [more]; E. F. Strange and Sidney Colvin (1845-1927), Keeper of Prints and Drawings, British Museum [more]; Alfred Gilbert (1854-1934), sculptor [more]; and JW supported Pennell. George Moore (1852-1933), novelist and art critic [more], Charles Hazlewood Shannon (1863-1937), painter and lithographer [more], and William Rothenstein (1872-1945), artist [more], appeared against him. Pennell won the case and celebrated with JW and Jonathan Sturges at the Café Royal (see #08480 and #13493; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, The Life and Letters of Joseph Pennell, 2 vols, London, 1930, pp. 309-14; Robins, Anna Greutzner, Walter Sickert. The Complete Writings on Art, Oxford, 2000, pp. 121-23, 129-30, 147-49).