The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11431
Date: 31 July 1891[1]
Author: Wallace L. Crowdy[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: Edward Tyas Cook[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: [Published][4]
Document Type: PL


SIR, -

I have read with interest Mr. Whistler's letter in your issue of July 28. I happened to be at Messrs. Dowdeswell's[5] galleries the other day and saw the picture he refers to. It was not on public exhibition, but was in one of their private rooms, and was brought out for my inspection à propos of a conversation we were having. Now, so far from Messrs. Dowdeswell showing it as a "completed work," they distinctly spoke of it as unfinished; nor can I imagine any one acquainted with Mr. Whistler's works speaking of any of them as "completed"! In "L'Envoi" of the catalogue[6] of his exhibition held at Messrs. Dowdeswell's a short time ago I find the following paragraph from his pen: - "The work of the master reeks not of the sweat of the brow - suggests no effort - and is finished from its beginning." The only inference possible is either that Mr. Whistler is not a [p. 2] master, or that the work is finished! He has, however, spent what time he could spare from his literary labours in endeavouring to induce the world to believe that the slightest scratch from his pen is worthy to rank with "Las Lanzas[7]," and I am therefore surprised to learn that he has altered his opinion. Still, I quite agree with him when he tells us that some of his work is "absolutely worthless!" - I am, sir, more in sorrow than in anger, your obedient servant,

W. C.

July 31, 1891.

So far as[8] the work being "in no way representative," it may interest Mr. Whistler to remember that the picture in question was painted at his finest period - just before the bankruptcy and just after the completion of the Peacock Room.

I am, Sir, more in sorrow than in anger, your obedient servant,


July 31, 1891

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1.  31 July 1891
Printed the subsequent day, 1 August 1891, in the Pall Mall Gazette.

2.  Wallace L. Crowdy
Wallace L. Crowdy (fl. 1885-1911), collector and writer on art [more].

3.  Edward Tyas Cook
Sir Edward Tyas Cook (1857-1919), journalist, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette from 1890-1892 [more], and editor of The Pall Mall Gazette, 1890-1892.

4.  Published
Published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 289-90, under the heading 'Mr. Whistler "had on his own Toast"'. A note in the margin records that it was first published in the Pall Mall Gazette, 1 August 1891.

5.  Dowdeswell's
C. W. or one of his sons, Charles and Walter Dowdeswell, of Dowdeswell and Dowdeswell, art dealers.

6.  catalogue
Of 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884.

7.  Las Lanzas
He is referring to the large history painting, Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velasquez, The Surrender of Breda (Las Lanzas) (z264).

8.  So far as...
The text from here to the end was not printed in the Gentle Art (op. cit) version of the letter; this latter portion probably was printed in the Pall Mall Gazette version.