The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 09761
Date: [28 June 1896?][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[2]
Place: London
Repository: New York Public Library
Call Number: E. G. Kennedy II/96
Credit Line: Edward Guthrie Kennedy Papers / Manuscripts and Archives Division / The New York Public Library / Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations
Document Type: ALS

St. Jude's Cottage - Heath End - Hampstead

Sunday -

Now my dear Mr. Kennedy O K - What is it all about! -

Why do you not say who is sending the letter to me? -

The parcel has come from Paris - and you can have the run of what is in it tomorrow as you propose - at about 11. o'clock -

Now my dear OK about the red picture[3] - [p. 2] Don't let that weigh on your mind any longer -

You have too loudly expressed your views for me to remain in any uncertainty about what I ought to do -

I therefore release you from all further entanglement in that unfortunate work - Nothing on earth would persuade me to thrust upon you a picture which is already quite other than the one for which you bargained.

The grievous disappointment you felt when you saw it the other day I shall not forget - It was so great that you could not help calling out that it was a shame I had "spoiled" the beautiful work - I can only be sorry -

Your outcry was an awful shock to my already over wrought nerves - and I must get over it as best I can -

Never let us say any more about it - It would pain me too much -

Don't misunderstand me O K - that picture is now scratched off the list in our arrangements - "Spoiled" as it is, it would be unlike Whistler to insist upon your taking it - and were it by a miracle to turn out a masterpiece it would be immoral to let you have it -

So thats off our minds -

Remains then the other one - It has been sent home, relined & in delightful condition - If you let me alone and manage to restrain your feelings, (which [p. 3] you might know after all must be mild compared to the intense anxiety of the Artist who risks continually the ruin of his work) we will hope that you will finally get that Spanish lady[4] safely into your collection - So thats all right -

The Blacksmith[5] you have got - and I will try and put the few finishing touches on the Little "Rose[6]" without spoiling the picture for you -

The pastel[7] I have kept my fingers off - and you shall carry it away safe & sound tomorrow -

A demain then, my dear OK!

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


E G. Kennedy Esq
Garlant's Hotel -
Suffolk Street
Pall Mall -
London -


1.  [28 June 1896?]
The deep mourning border on the envelope (which was sent by hand) indicates a date shortly after the death of Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]. In July Kennedy went first to Holland and then he and JW went together to France. There are letters from JW to Kennedy that give no sign of this brief quarrel, and which are dated 8, 11 and 21 June (#09749, #09750, #09751), and it is therefore most likely that this dates from the following week, Sunday 28 June 1896. Kennedy's undated apology in reply is #07334.

2.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more]. JW calls him 'OK'.

3.  red picture
Red and Black: The Fan (YMSM 388), a portrait of Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more], which JW never sold, although he did restore it to a state of magnificence. The following is a note in Kennedy's hand, written in the letterbook beside this letter: 'Sep. 6th - Sunday. 1903. Button Island. Westport. N.Y. In looking over these many letters of Whistler to me - often a painful feeling comes over me when I think that at the very last I was estranged from him. It was not my fault however, & in another year (1902) will be found the memo. connected with my absence from the Studio. Undoubtedly Whistler & his wife both liked me, as he says, to the last. He had many qualities which were most agreeable, & often charming, effect of his manner or conversation. This letter alludes to my one bad "break", & where I was undoubtedly at fault. Whistler had three full lengths of Mrs Whibley, one in black, one in grey & black & one in pink. I was to have the three when they were "complete". There was something to do to the hands of each. One afternoon I went to the studio in Fitzroy St 8 & saw (some one said "Come in" in answer to my knock) Mrs Whibley [posing] for the full [p. 2] length in pink, besides the but Whistler, instead of finishing the hand only, had repainted the picture from top to bottom & the beautiful tone had, of course, disappeared. In my astonishment I said - Good Lord you've spoiled my picture". This was impulse, & of course the moment I said it, I saw of what a piece of foolishness & bad taste I was guilty & did not go into the Studio, but went away after lamely apologising, & afterward I wrote him a letter. He was certainly much more tolerant than I had reason to expect & he was as friendly as ever. The enclosed is à propos of the pink portrait. EGK'

4.  Spanish lady
Mother of Pearl and Silver: The Andalusian (YMSM 378); although JW had agreed to sell several portraits of Ethel Whibley to Kennedy, this was the only one that he did in fact sell. Kennedy only received it in 1900, and sold it immediately to Arthur Harris Whittemore (1864-1927), businessman and collector [more].

5.  Blacksmith
On 4 September 1896 Kennedy agreed to pay £1500 for The Little Rose of Lyme Regis (YMSM 449) and The Master Smith of Lyme Regis (YMSM 450), plus Rose et or: La Tulipe (YMSM 418) or Harmony in Black: Portrait of Miss Ethel Philip (YMSM 419).

6.  Rose
The Little Rose of Lyme Regis (YMSM 449).

7.  pastel
Not identified.