The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 10037
Date: [July 1871 / June 1872?][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Dante Gabriel Rossetti[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: University of Texas at Austin, TX
Call Number: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Document Type: ALS

Can you forgive me my dear Rossetti for not before answering your kind note from the country[3]! -

Every day I have intended to sit down and write to you - but have each day hoped that on the morrow I might give you a more satisfactory account of my work[4] which is after all the matter upon which we all need the most sympathy - and so day after day has gone and now that I have just finished - enfin! - I learn that you are here again -

I send Jo[5] with this to make my peace - though of course I know that you never could have [p. 2] supposed me for a minute indifferent to your affection or capable of really treating any friend of yours with carelessness - but my dear Rossetti I have been so hard at work and the place has been so full of skeletons you wot of, that I could scarcely see any one - I should now be much gratified if Murray[6] will come in on Sunday afternoon - and so I write to say by this mornings post - But I want you to promise to come in and breakfast with me on Sunday morning at 10.30 - I think that I can get Böehm[7] too -

Do come like a good fellow - it [p. 3] is so very long since I have had the happiness of showing you a bit of my work that I could feel pleased with myself and the only pleasant moments in ones life of dissatisfaction are those in which sympathy of such men as yourself is won by ones work -

On Monday I go to Speke[8] -

When can I come in and when may I see the picture[9] -

I wish you joy in your new Studio[10] -
Ever yours


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1.  [July 1871 / June 1872?]
JW first visited Speke Hall in September 1869, and made several prolonged visits between 1870 and 1873. See Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, pp. 121-135. From 12 July 1871 until July 1874 D. G. Rossetti lived with the Morrises at Kelmscott. This letter, which is in response to a letter from Rossetti from the country, probably dates from before June 1872 when Rossetti suffered a mental breakdown and attempted suicide. After this date he became very reclusive and lost touch with many of his artist friends. JW makes reference to Rossetti's new studio. In the autumn of 1871 Rossetti arranged with his lawyer Webb that, whilst he was away at Kelmscott, work should begin on his studio at Tudor House, Cheyne Walk. The window was to be enlarged in order to create more light. In 1869 there had been talk of turning his stables into a studio but this idea was abandoned. JW may also have been referring to Rossetti's new studio in the tapestry room at Kelmscott. In December 1872 he moved his studio into the drawingroom because of the cold. In January 1873 he considered turning the barn next to the gardener's cottage into a studio. See Doughty, Oswald and John Robert Wahl, Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 4 vols., Oxford, 1965-67, vol. 3, pp. 703, 949, 1054, 1104, 1127-9.

2.  Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882), artist and poet [more]. He had visited Speke in the autumn of 1868, suffering from depression, and spent the entire visit in an alcoholic haze. (ibid., pp. 121-122).

3.  note from the country
Letter not located.

4.  work
JW was working on 'The Six Projects' (YMSM 82-87) (excat 11) and family portraits commissioned by Leyland.

5.  Jo
Joanna Hiffernan (b. ca 1843), JW's model and mistress [more]. Jo and JW had parted amicably at some point during the previous few years, but they seem to have remained in close touch.

6.  Murray
Possibly Charles Fairfax Murray (1849-1919), artist, collector and dealer [more]. Murray first approached Rossetti in 1866, and in 1867 painted a replica of Beata Beatrix (1864; Tate Britain, Surtees, cat. no. 238). Following this he became the studio assistant of Edward Burne-Jones.

7.  Böehm
Joseph Edgar Boehm (1834-1890), sculptor [more].

8.  Speke
Speke Hall, Liverpool, home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), shipowner, his wife Frances, and their children Frederick Dawson, Fanny, Florence and Elinor.

9.  picture
Not located.

10.  studio
See date note.