The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 09194
Date: [20 November 1867][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: George Aloysius Lucas[2]
Place: Paris
Repository: Baltimore Museum of Art, MD
Call Number: 13 folder, W-Lucas file
Document Type: ALS[3]

[monogram with floral decoration:] 'AMW'

2 Lindsey Row -
Old Battersea bridge
Chelsea -

Dear Lucas -

You must be more than astounded at this extraordinary silence on my part just now when you have so kindly undertaken to manage my affairs[4] for me in Paris - But matters most unlooked for have taken place and I have been tremendously occupied in changing all my plans! occasioned by the sudden arrival from America of my mother[5]! -

You can readily understand what a Herculean work it was to make order out of Chaos! to give up all thoughts of Paris and manage to make everything comfortable here! - Besides I have lost my two French servants - Honorine[6] [sic] got homesick and cross [p. 2] and had to leave foggy London où elle s'embêtait[7]! for la belle France whither she and Floran[8] [sic] have gone! - First let me thank you for seeking a studio for me which I only wish I could go to - And now about these cursed Yankees[9]! I really don't think I shall give that chap Avery[10] any etchings altho' I promised him some - What do you say? he has been of no use whatever to me - notwithstanding his protestations and amiable letters[11] - in this last matter what has he done! - I shall have had all the expense of sending my pictures[12] to a corridor [p. 3] where they have been more or less damned by every body and now will have to pay for getting them back again! - However I will do as you think about the matter

As I am to pay for transportation, pray have the pictures and etchings directed to me here and send them by the smallest of 'petite vitesse'[13] - cheap as possible no matter how slow! -

Forgive my writing in a great hurry and my long delay -

I have written by the same post to Mr Beckwith[14] telling him that you will kindly act for me in this affair -

I also told him how shabby they are! -

Ever Yours

J A M Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


'Whistler / 21st Novr - / Ans[were]d 6th December / sending pictures'[15]

Monsieur George Lucas.
41. Rue de l'arc de Triomphe
Paris -
[postmark:] LONDON-S. W / 5 / NO 20 / 67
[postmark:] ANGL [ANB?] CALAIS [G?] / 21 NOV / [67?]
[postmark on verso, illegible]

[white embossed floral decoration on envelope flap]
[on verso in pencil:] '[Baloy?] 99 Rue [neive?] des [Maturins?]'


1.  [20 November 1867]
Dated from envelope. Dated by Lucas on envelope 21 November and 6 December; postmarked 1867. Also dated from G. A. Lucas's diary entries for 21 November 1867, 'Rec'd letter from Whistler', and 6 December 1867, 'Wrote Whistler advising sending his 4 cases by petite vitesse via Northern Rail Road' (Randall, Lillian, ed., George A. Lucas: An American Art Agent in Paris, 1857-1909, Princeton, 1979, p. 255).

2.  George Aloysius Lucas
George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), art dealer in Paris [more].

3.  ALS
Also published in Mahey, John A., 'The Letters of James McNeill Whistler to George A. Lucas,' Art Bulletin, XLIX, September 1967, pp. 247-57, p. 252.

4.  affairs
JW submitted successfully four paintings and several etchings to the Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867. See #09195 which follows this letter.

5.  mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more]. Anna Whistler had moved to London in 1863 to live with JW. However, she spent the summer of 1867 in America visiting family and friends. She left Liverpool on c. 18 June (#12214). She arrived back in London towards the end of November.

6.  Honorine
Misspelling of Honoré, JW's servant.

7.  elle s'embêtait
Fr., she was bored.

8.  Floran
Misspelling of Florin, JW's servant.

9.  Yankees
This is probably a reference to the painters of the Hudson River School whose work had been well received at the Exposition. JW may have felt that their presence inhibited his own chances of success.

10.  Avery
Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), print-publisher, collector and philanthropist [more]. Avery was Art Commissioner for the United States Section at the Paris Exposition Universelle, 1867. JW blamed him for the ill-display of his works at the Exposition. However, Avery went on to become one of JW's regular patrons during the 1870s. He bought rare proofs of JW's etchings, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and owned oils including Portrait of Whistler with Hat (YMSM 23).

11.  letters

12.  pictures
The paintings were Brown and Silver: Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 33); Wapping (YMSM 35); Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38) and Crepuscule in Flesh Colour and Green: Valparaiso (YMSM 73).

13.  'petite vitesse'
Fr., slow goods service.

14.  Mr Beckwith
Nelson Marvin Beckwith (d. 1889?), U. S. consul general, Paris, and Commissioner for the 1867 Paris Exhibition [more].

15.  'Whistler / 21st Novr - / Ans[were]d 6th December / sending pictures'
Note written in ink by G. A. Lucas.