The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 09398
Date: 30 March 1889
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Horace Henry Cauty[1]
Place: London
Repository: Scripps College, Claremont, CA
Call Number: The Ella Strong Dension Library
Document Type: MsLS[2]


Pray accept my compliments, and be good enough to inform me, at once, by whose authority and upon what pretence, the painting[3], designed and executed by myself, upon the panel at the entrance of the Galleries of Suffolk Street, has been defaced.

Tampering with the work of an artist, however obscure, is held to be, in what might be called the international laws of the whole Art World, so villainous an offence, that I must at present decline to entertain the responsibility of the distinguished, and Royal Society of British Artists for what must be due to the rash and ill considered zeal of some enthusiastic and untutored underling.

Awaiting your reply,
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your obedient, humble Servant

J. McNeill Whistler

The Hon Secretary
The Royal Society of British Artists

The Tower House
Tite Street

March 30. 1889

This document is protected by copyright.


To / The Hon- Secretary
The Royal Society of British Artists


1.  Horace Henry Cauty
Horace Henry Cauty (1846-1909), historical and genre painter [more].

2.  MsLS
Written by Charles James Whistler Hanson (1870-1935), engineer, son of JW and Louisa Fanny Hanson [more], and signed by JW. JW's letter and the reply, were published in the Times, London, 1 April 1889, p. 6 with minor variations (the Times writes, 'the very distinguished and Royal'). The letter was also published in the Morning Post and then, with minor changes in punctuation and a butterfly signature, in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890, p. 218, under the heading 'The New Dynasty'.

3.  painting
That is, the signboard of the Royal Society of British Artists (see #06801).

4.  Immediate
The letter was sent by hand.