The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 10969
Date: [19/21 May 1881][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Elisabeth Lewis[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
Call Number: Department of Western Manuscripts, MS Dep. c. 838, fol. 129
Document Type: ALS

[roundel with head of Leonardo]


Dear Mrs Lewis -

I remember with vanity your once saying that [you] enjoyed my battles with my enemies and were pleased with my manner of fighting - This encourages me to send you my last grand hurrah! I call it the "Haden - Piker - Painter - Etcher - Plot[3]"!

Read first the Extracts[4] from the Press - and [p. 2] then if not too worn out, my letter to the Committee -

I fancy that I have routed the tribe and victoriously carried off their baggage waggons and guns. -

When I venture some afternoon to beg you for a cup of tea you shall tell me - meanwhile I lay at your feet the scalp of the Quilter[5] - 'Times Art Critic' - (as you will have seen in this weeks World) -

Very sincerely Yrs

J A McN. Whistler

[butterfly signature]

28. Wimpole Street -[6]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [19/21 May 1881]
Dated from butterfly signature and reference to Quilter.

2.  Elisabeth Lewis
Elisabeth Lewis (1844-1931), née Eberstadt, wife of G. H. Lewis [more].

3.  Haden - Piker - Painter - Etcher - Plot
A reference to an incident between JW, Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more] and the newly formed Painter Etcher's Society. In the spring of 1881, the Society held an exhibition at the Hanover Gallery. However, when the American Frank Duveneck (1848-1919), painter, etcher and art teacher [more] submitted three Venice etchings, Haden (who was President of the Society) suspected that they were in fact by JW. Anxious to compare the etchings with those that JW had been printing for the Fine Art Society, Haden, Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more], and Dr Edward Hamilton (1815 or 1816-1903), doctor of medicine and print collector [more], paid a visit to the Society's gallery. JW was indignant when he heard of the visit, regarding it as an attack on his artistic integrity. See correspondence between M. B. Huish and F. S. Haden, #01131, #01944; JW to F. S. Haden, #13147; JW to Painter-Etcher's Society, #11632, #13151; F. S. Haden to E. G. Brown, #01943; JW to C. A. Howell, #02878.

4.  Extracts
For the copy sent to Mrs Lewis, see #10992. Correspondence relating to the Painter Etcher affair was subsequently published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Piker Papers. The Painter-Etchers' Society and Mr. Whistler, London, 1881.

5.  Quilter
Henry ('Arry') Quilter (1851-1907), advocate and art critic [more]. Quilter had just succeeded Thomas ('Tom') Taylor (1817-1880), civil servant, dramatist, art critic, and editor of Punch from 1874-1880 [more] as art critic at the Times. On 18 May 1881, JW wrote to the World mocking Quilter's confusion between oil and water-colour in his review of a portrait of John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more], by Hubert von Herkomer (1849-1914), painter [more] at the Grosvenor Gallery. Quilter's review of the 5th Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1881 appeared in the Times on 2 May 1881. See #11391, and also Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 68-69.

6.  28. Wimpole Street -
The address of William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].