The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 09715
Date: 4 February 1894
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[1]
Place: [New York]
Repository: New York Public Library
Call Number: E. G. Kennedy I/48
Credit Line: Edward Guthrie Kennedy Papers / Manuscripts and Archives Division / The New York Public Library / Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Document Type: ALS

110 Rue du Bac, Paris

Feb. 4 - 1894

My dear Mr. Kennedy -

I am more and more impressed, as our letter writing goes on, with the vast far offness of America! -

What inducement is there for me to send way out there things that go to continue one's history here? - There, according to what you yourself say the people are still in the early stage of National greatness - to put it nicely, that requires the legs of the piano to be draped[2]! - To them a nude figure suggests [p. 2] at once the absence of clothes - and general impropriety - only! What should I do with any of my beautiful pastels - among these persons? -

Money - is the only consideration - the only inducement to offer to the artist for sending his work so far away from Paris - and that they wont give enough of - You told me you wouldn't sell the etching "Cameo No 1[3]" at the price I would have asked, because of the thinness of the drapery!!-

Mr Gerald Potter[4], another of the Art Patron picture dealers has just sold[5] "The Little White Girl", & the Nocturne "Cremorne lights Blue & Silver" for fourteen hundred pounds in a lump - He was asking £1200 for "The Little White Girl"- by itself, but one man brought the two pictures down.

So you see the Whistlers are daily going up - and these works which the people were forbidden to buy from me[6] , by Mr Ruskin[7] Mr Burne Jones, and the Attorney Genl. of England are bringing thousands to the hawking scoundrels who, in the guise of connoisseurs, collectors & protectors of Art, are making incomes & taking their families to the Engardine[8] on my labour my brain - my hard fought battle - and the honours achieved - out of their own country!

Mr Potter gave me £150 - for "The Little White Girl"- or perhaps only 100 - I forget - and for the Nocturne, fifty or may be thirty[9].

Good speculation wasn't it! At the time of the Exhibition[10] at Goupil's which established the worth of all these pictures[,] Potter made a great fuss about paying for the cleaning and refused to take the one or two new frames I had put his paintings in - By this toilette I had of course not only set their wares before the public to the best advantage but I had put the works themselves [p. 3] into the most splendid condition - Mr Potter left the frames on my hands -

Mr. Leathart[11] refused absolutely to pay for the cleaning & varnishing of his picture, "The Lange Leize[12] of the Six Marks," which came from his home in a filthy condition of grime & neglect. - He sold it for six or eight hundred - He had paid me £80 - or 60. -

Mr. Louis Huth[13] - millionaire - refused entirely to pay for the cleaning & varnishing of "The Symphony[14] in White No 3" - which went back to him, through my care, in a state of perfection - beautiful to look upon - He wrote me a foolish and furious letter of insolent and honest wrath - .... And more I could tell you - and will one of these days - for these things should be known -

The Nocturne[15] "Blue & Silver Battersea" that you speak of I ought to have £800 for - However if you have a client or mean business in any way and will send me a cheque for £600, I will send you the picture - for you can keep it better than I can - These Whistlers you know are getting scarse now - I have only that one and the "Fire Wheel[16], Black & Gold" left - The fire wheel you know I want £1000 guineas for -

Your letter[17] of Jan 23d I have received as you see - Now to go back, you will have noticed that with the two sets of the "Luxembourg[18]" lithos, sent[19] you on the 20th Jan. - was a proof of a draped figure[20] (that I forgot to put down on the list) - for this the [illegible] price, £2-2- Then on the 20th Jan - I sent with the one set of the "Luxembourg" (ordered Jan. 2d) another draped figure[21] also not put down on the list - at least I believe not, and also for £2-2-

Now we have just sent you yesterday Jan Feb. 3. according to the last letter of yours requesting three extra sets, the following proofs, viz.

[tick] 3. "Corner house, Vitré[22]"............. £ 6-6-  
[tick] 3. "Seated draped figure"............ 9-9-  
[tick] 3. "Lying down nude - ............... 6-6- K
[tick] 3. "Market Place Paimpol............. 6-6-  
[tick] 3. "Horlogerie Paimpol"............. 6-6-  
[tick] 2. "Vitré"........................... 4-4- (one more to send)
[tick] 3. "Luxembourg Gardens, Panthéon...... 6-6-  
[tick] 2.    "    "    "   The Steps"..... 4-4- (one more to send)
[tick] [2?].   "    "   The Conversation"........ 2-2- (two more to send)


[p. 4] I think the idea of the exhibition of lithographs excellent -

This must go now -

With kindest regards
Very sincerely

J McN Whistler

[butterfly signature]

I hope you have sent cheque - for this January business[23] in Paris has been endless in the way of expense and the strain devilish tight! -

[p. 5] ' 1894[24]
J. McN. Whistler
Paris Febry. 4th'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].

2.  draped
This was apparently seen in an American seminary for young ladies by the British Captain Frederick Marryat (A Diary in America, 3 vols, London, 1839, quoted in Pyles, Thomas, Words and Ways of American English, New York, 1952, p. 111).

3.  Cameo No. 1
Cameo No.1 (Mother and Child) (K.347).

4.  Gerald Potter
John Gerald Potter (1829-1908), wallpaper manufacturer and patron [more] (see JW's letters to Potter, #05010 and #13346).

5.  sold
Potter sold Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52) and Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Cremorne Lights (YMSM 115) to Arthur ('Peter') Haythorne Studd (1863-1919), painter and collector [more], who bequeathed them to the National Gallery, London in 1919.

6.  me
Double underlined.

7.  Ruskin
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more], Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more], Sir John Holker (1828-1882), Attorney General, counsel for John Ruskin [more]. A reference to testimony in the Whistler v. Ruskin trial of 1878.

8.  Engardine
The Engadine valley region in Switzerland, which contains the fashionable holiday destination of St Moritz.

9.  thirty
A letter from Potter to JW on 24 March [1865] refers to the painting as "the White Maid" (#05621). The painting was apparently in Potter's possession by 25 November [1865], when A. M. Whistler mentioned in a letter how much JW's step-brother George admired the picture (#06526).

10.  Exhibition
Both pictures were exhibited in JW's retrospective exhibition, Nocturnes, Marines and Chevalet Pieces, Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Goupil Gallery, London, 1892.

11.  Leathart
James Leathart (1820-1895), collector [more].

12.  Lange Leize
Purple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks (YMSM 47) was purchased from the Newcastle collector J. Leathart, probably in 1864, and sold early in 1893 for £600 through Goupil's to John Graver Johnson (1841-1917), lawyer and collector [more].

13.  Louis Huth
Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more].

14.  Symphony
Symphony in White, No. 3 (YMSM 61) may have been sold to Huth in 1865, before it was completed. Huth sold it in March/April 1899 through Agnew's to Sir Edmund Davis (1861-1939), patron and collector [more], reputedly for about £2000. It was auctioned after his death and bought by the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, Birmingham, for 3300 guineas.

15.  Nocturne
JW sold Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Battersea Reach (YMSM 152) to Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924), née Stewart, collector [more], in 1895 for 600 guineas.

16.  Fire Wheel
After Kennedy failed to sell Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169), JW sold it to Arthur ('Peter') Haythorne Studd (1863-1919), painter and collector [more], in 1896.

17.  letter

18.  Luxembourg
The Steps, Luxembourg (C.68), Conversation under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens (C.69) and The Pantheon, from the terrace of the Luxembourg Gardens (C.70).

19.  sent
Actually dated 22 January 1894, #09714.

20.  draped figure
The Draped Figure, Seated (C.72).

21.  another draped figure
Possibly Draped Model, Standing (C.74) or Draped Model, Standing by a Sofa (C.75).

22.  Corner house, Vitré
The lithographs are probably Gabled Roofs (C.64), The Draped Figure, Seated (C.72), Nude Model, Reclining (C.73), The Marketplace, Vitré (C.62), The Clock-Makers, Paimpol (C.65), Vitré: The Canal (C.63), The Terrace, Luxembourg (C.87), The Steps, Luxembourg (C.68), Conversation under the Statue, Luxembourg Gardens (C.69) (see #02703).

23.  January business
This probably refers to medical treatment, and possibly an operation on Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more], who was seriously ill with cancer.

24.  1894
Note written in another hand.