The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 09390
Date: 16 December 1867
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: William Michael Rossetti[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: [Published][2]
Document Type: ALS


16 Dec. / 67

2 Lindsey Row


Dear William -

I had hoped to see you yesterday at your brothers[4] - I would like to write to say something that might tell you how much I feel the noble way in which you stood by me[5] and did battle for me, coming to the charge over and over again in a hopeless cause! - You and your brother are splendid fellows - Forgive me if in the stubbornness of an out[raged?] [p. 2] man at bay, I refused to say what might perhaps have at least pardoned your faithfulness to my cause in the opinion of those present, even if it should not have changed the aim of the meeting[6] -

I feel, dear William that an explanation and refutation of the charges brought against me, is due to people for your sakes as well as my own - and intend to draw up a complete statement for that purpose - which I shall give to Boxall[7] and Huth[8] - that they may hand [p. 3] it in to the Committee -

Will you come down tomorrow evening quietly if you can that we may have a talk and look over the matter? - also that I may shake hands with one to whom I can say but little but to whom I feel strongly grateful and affectionate

J. A. M Whistler -

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1.  William Michael Rossetti
William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more].

2.  [Published]
Published in Christie's sale catalogue, New York, 14 May 1985, lot 110 (also on 17 May 1991, lot 139), and in Sotheby's sale catalogue, New York, 17 December 1992, lot 248.

3.  'A'
Written in top left-hand corner in another hand.

4.  brothers
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more].

5.  stood by me
The Rossetti brothers had supported JW in a recent row with the Burlington Fine Arts Club, a club for artists and connoisseurs. In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more], over Haden's treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Traer died on a trip to Paris, allegedly in a brothel. Haden arranged for Traer's burial with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. Haden later claimed that in the resulting confrontation JW had pushed him through a plate glass window. Both JW and Haden were members of the Burlington Club and in the aftermath of the Traer affair, Haden campaigned for JW to be excluded from the club, having brought to its attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (#02240). On 11 June 1867, JW received a request for his resignation from the Club on the threat of expulsion (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). But JW, aggrieved with the summary way in which he felt the Club had treated him, refused to entertain the charges against him, claiming the Club had no right to interfere in a private matter (see JW to L. Huth, #02240). However, JW's efforts to defend himself were unsuccessful and he was expelled from the Club on 13 December 1867. D. G. Rossetti and W. M. Rossetti resigned as a gesture of support.

6.  meeting
A Special General Meeting took place on 13 December 1867 to consider the possibility of expelling JW from the club (see circular to club membership, #00445).

7.  Boxall
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more]. JW sent the statement to William Boxall 'as my proposer at election,' declaring it 'a full explanation of my conduct' (see #00498).

8.  Huth
Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more]. See JW to L. Huth, #02240. Huth had been JW's second proposer when he joined the club on 22 February 1867, in place of Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more] (see #11957).