The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11402
Date: [24 March 1886][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Edmund Hodgson Yates[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PLc[3]


I have come upon the posthumous paper of 'Arry[4] - his certificate of character, and printed pretension to the Professorship of Slade - and O! the shame of it - and the indiscretion of it!

Read, Atlas, and seek in your past for a parallel:

"To the Electors of the Slade Professor of Fine Art for the University of Cambridge. - My Lord and Gentlemen, - I beg to submit my name as a candidate for the Slade Professorship, and enclose herewith a few testimonials . . . I have also received favourable letters from the following gentlemen . . . Alma-Tadema, R. A.[5], Marcus Stone, R. A.[6], Briton Rivière, R. A.[7], John Brett, A. R. A.[8], . . . and others."

What! is the Immaculate impure? - and shall the Academy have coquetted with the unclean?

Had Alma the classic aught in common with this 'Arry of commerce?

Believe him not, Atlas!

[p. 2] O Alma! O Ichabod[9]! forgive us the thought of it!

Surely also the pots of "the Forty" do boil before the Lord, and the flames of the chosen were unfanned by the feather of 'Arry's goose-quill.


"My experience in art matters has been briefly as follows:

I have worked at the subject continually in Italy, having for that purpose travelled and stayed in that country - at least a dozen times. I have also painted in France, Germany, and Belgium, in which last-mentioned country I was in a portrait painter's studio." - (A portrait by 'Arry!)

"There are several pictures of mine[10] being exhibited in London at the present time." (! ! !)

"I have also executed a good deal of distemper . . .

I have also travelled for a year in the East." ('Arry in the East! !)

"I have had, as a lecturer upon Art, considerable experience - at working-men's clubs - . . . and at the Rev. Stopford A. Brooke's[11] College for men, women, and children.

For the last ten years I have written every article upon art which has appeared in the Spectator newspaper" - a confession, Atlas, clearly a confession!

"In 1880, I wrote a critical life of Giotto[12]" - he did [p. 3] indeed, Atlas! - I saw it - a book in blue - his own, and Reckitt's[13] - all bold with brazen letters:
- "of which two editions were published" - bless him - and then I killed him!

and, "I am, Gentlemen,
Your most obedient servant,


Trin. Coll. Camb., Esquire."

The pride of it!

[butterfly signature]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [24 March 1886]
Date of publication in The World.

2.  Edmund Hodgson Yates
Edmund Hodgson Yates (1831-1894), novelist, 'Atlas' columnist and editor-proprietor of the World [more]. On 17 February 1886, the news of Quilter's candidature for Slade Professor of Fine Art, Cambridge, was taken up by Yates in the 'Atlas' column in the World (#11400), and he challenged JW to respond. JW responded with enthusiasm and sent two mocking letters to 'Atlas,' including this one. By some means, he gained access to Quilter's testimonial (#05099), extracts of which appear here. See also JW to E. Yates, #11401.

3.  PLc
Published in the Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 121-23.

4.  'Arry
Henry ('Arry') Quilter (1851-1907), advocate and art critic [more]. In the end, Quilter failed in his bid for the Slade Chair, and John Henry Middleton (1846-1896), architect, Director of South Kensington Museum from 1893-1896 [more], was elected instead.

5.  Alma-Tadema, R. A.
Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912), painter [more].

6.  Marcus Stone, R. A.
Marcus Stone (1840-1921), historical genre painter and illustrator [more].

7.  Briton Rivière, R. A.
Briton Riviere (or Rivière) (1840-1920), genre and animal painter [more].

8.  John Brett, A. R. A.
John Brett (1830-1902), painter of coastal scenes and landscapes [more].

9.  Ichabod
In 1 Sam. 4.21, after the ark of God is taken from the Israelites, a child is named Ichabod, meaning 'Where is the glory?' or 'There is no glory'.

10.  pictures of mine
Quilter painted landscapes, and between 1884-1892 exhibited eleven works at The Institute of Painters in Oil Colours (later the Royal Institute of Oil Painters) at the Piccadilly Galleries, 190 Piccadilly, London.

11.  Rev. Stopford A. Brooke's
Rev. Stopford Augustus Brooke (1832-1916), author, critic, and preacher [more].

12.  Giotto
Giotto di Bondone (1267?-1337), artist [more]. Quilter, Harry, Giotto. An essay. With illustrations. , London, 1880.

13.  Reckitt's
A reference to 'Reckitt's Blue,' a laundry whitener and one of the first widely-marketed laundry products manufactured by Reckitt and Sons (established 1840 in Hull). They began producing it in 1852, and as it was produced from synthetic ultramarine and sodium bicarbonate, it was available cheaply and to the masses. JW referred to Quilter in similar terms in another letter to Yates, [17 May 1882], #09541.