The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11353
Date: [12 June 1886][1]
Author: 'A British Artist'[2]
Recipient: The Editor, Court and Society Review
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 14/1306-7
Document Type: TLc[3]



The fulsomeness of Mr Salaman's letter[4] in your issue of the 10th, is only equalled by the assumption, characteristic of a writer so curiously ignorant of the rudimentary principles of art. I fear trespassing too much upon your space, and am therefore reluctantly compelled to be brief.

Instead of honouring themselves by electing Mr Whistler, the Society of British Artists have [sic] only, in my opinion, made themselves ridiculous; and if nothing short of Mr Whistler's aid could save the Society from decline (the liklihood [sic] of which, however, is not at all evident), better dissolution than the presidency of such a flagrant trifler with art as Mr Whistler.

A British artist he can hardly claim to be, and he is manifestly out of place amongst the members of that Society.

He is seen at his best in a show entirely his own - where fittings, wall-papering, carpet, odd frames of his own design, and attendants, all to match in colour, combine to make up an eccentric show. At his worst, I imagine, he may be seen at Suffolk Street, where his picture (save the mark!) in the large room can hardly fail to impress every unbiased person and lover of art as an insult to art (to say nothing of decency), and to those members whose honest works surround it.

Things must be in sad case with an artist when he needs bolstering up by such an advocate as Mr Salaman, whose soul seems unable to rise above meaningless daubs and afternoon tea. [p. 2] As for the crowning absurdity in his article - that suggestion anent knighthood for Mr Whistler - it is deliciously funny.

Yours faithfully,


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1.  [12 June 1886]
Date of publication in the Court and Society Review (see notes below).

2.  A British Artist

3.  TLc
This is a typescript copy of a letter originally published in the Court and Society Review. See also other documents in this sequence: the article by Salaman, 'Hail President Whistler,' #11351; 'A Country Collector,' 'The Unknown Quantity' and 'Van Eyck' to the Editor, Court and Society Review, #11352, #11354, #11355; M. C. Salaman to the Editor, #11356.

4.  Mr Salaman's letter
Malcolm Charles Salaman (1855-1940), art critic and dramatist [more]. On 1 June 1886, JW was elected President of the Society, later the Royal Society of British Artists. Salaman's article praised this development as a 'hopeful sign of a brighter future for art in this country.' (see Salaman, Malcolm, 'Hail President Whistler,' Court and Society Review, 10 June 1886, #11351).