The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 10716
Date: [29 June 1892][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Stephen Richards[2]
Place: London
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/44/4
Document Type: ALS[3]

33. Rue de Tournon. Paris

'June 29th 1892'[4]

Dear Sir:

I am very pleased with your letter - But what is all this about red ground and the rest of it in my picture Battersea Reach[5]!

You had the telegram from me this morning - The fact is you have had so much to do with all the tricks of the trade, in those "fakements" of Mr. Humphrey Ward's[6] "Old Masters," that [p. 2] by this time you are always expecting to find them every where - Tell him with my compliments that he is vitiating your mind with his Wardour Street Masterpieces - and never think to discover in my canvases any mysteries of such pretention.

There is no red ground - The Battersea was very simply painted - long ago - one evening from my window - I dare say the paint itself is far from from thick in its rapid laying on - and perhaps the canvas is in places but slightly covered. Also doubtless this places may by this time have become filled with London filth brown and not unlike what you might have supposed was a ground prepared -

Clean the picture very[7] tenderly, because of these very places - and when varnished it will be all that I wish -

By this time I suppose they are all about finished -

Let me hear tomorrow and I will write further directions

Very truly

J McN. Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


Mr. Stephen Richards
4. Berners Street
Oxford Street
London -
Angleterre -
[postmark:] PARIS-6 R. DE VAUGIRARD / [5E?] 29 / JUIN / 92
[postmark on verso:] LONDON. W / 7 V / JU 30 / 92


1.  [29 June 1892]
Dated from postmark. The letter is written in purple ink.

2.  Stephen Richards
Stephen Richards (b. ca 1845), picture restorer [more].

3.  ALS
Written in purple ink.

4.  'June 29th 1892'
Added in another hand.

5.  Battersea Reach
Battersea Reach (YMSM 45).

6.  Mr. Humphrey Ward's
Thomas Humphrey Ward (1845-1926), journalist and author [more] The reference to the faking of Old Masters is unidentified but Ward, a leader writer for the Times, may have written an article or stirred up controversy about the subject.

7.  very
Triple underlined.