The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Transcription/Database Record

the on-line edition

System Number: 11556
Date: 11 November 1894
Author: John Chandler Bancroft[1]
Place: Boston
Recipient: George Du Maurier[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York
Call Number: MA 4452
Document Type: ALS

61 Mt Vernon St

Nov 11. 1894

My dear Du Maurier

My wife[3] received a pleasant letter from Mrs Du Maurier[4] this morning: & we were all glad to have tidings of you.

The only bit of family news I can send in return is that my eldest daughter[5] will be married either immediately after Christmas or early in the spring to an officer in the Swedish Navy of the name of Flach[6] - will abide thereafter in Stockholm. This part of it is thoroughly unresolved [p. 2] but as the young people are very much of one mind, we older ones can only accept the inevitable - Captain Flach deserves that I should say of him that he is a thoroughly good fellow of solid qualities and I am told stands very well in the service - He was in Newport through the summer detailed by his government to inspect & report on our naval War College, which seems to be the first institution of its kind & likely to be adopted in Europe. The work is [much gone?] to the preparatory staff-work of all the continental armies - the rest was a chapter of accidents with a good deal of simple strategy on [p. 3] the part of the invader - Except for the new house (not to go farther for [first?] causes) it could not have happened -

My Kodaks of the house & surroundings, rocks, & hill, swell, sea & surf, all failed & I have nothing to send you this year. Next spring I hope for better luck -

[p. 4] My collision with Whistler had nothing to redeem it in the way of cleverness or wit, and was on my side entirely unexpected and part foresight - Briefly the situation was this = Dr Cavaffy[7] [sic] of London (whom you probably know) offered some pictures[8] of Whistler's for sale and at first without success - Jimmy came at 9 in the morning to ask me to step in & take them = & I allowed myself to be persuaded to give [p. 4] Dr C.s price for these unseen pictures - Telegrams were exchanged & the thing apparently settled = check drawn &c. - Whistler & his wife[9] dined with us & after dinner told me he wanted one of them as a commission[10] - I dont quite like the point of view, but told him as politely as possible that I should wait until I had seen them & should certainly keep the one he wanted, if I happened to prefer it. The general question of one as a commission might wait - I could see that he was very cross about it - but did not expect that he would as he did, telegraph[11] to Dr Cavaffy to refuse my check, which came back to me two days later - Then I wrote a line to Whistler[12] to express my surprise at the apparently too Greek quality of the transaction, which gave [p. 5] him the opening for his epistolary fireworks - At the time I did not know exactly what had happened & did not suspect Whistler of any crookedness - The only cleverness he showed was in so arranging things that Dr Cavaffy both in fact & in appearance as far as I was concerned seemed the offending party. It was not till I called upon the latter in London & saw the various telegrams and a very precise & punctilious gentleman who was evidently much disturbed at having been made to serve as catspaw, that understood how far Jimmy's spite can make him go & how little it takes to start it. Being interested in the development of the story, I saw the [p. 6] New York dealer[13] who took my place & paid Mr Cavaffy more than he asked - I found he too had been played with by Whistler & had no idea of the facts - As he was quite equal to sharp practice on his own account, he didnt mind -

I have most of the documents (letters & telegrams) and have seen all the rest = which done, I felt that the subject was exhausted & my mind at rest -

Jimmy's letter was scurrilous, nothing more -

The story I see took longer to tell than I expected = to be pardoned -

Many regards to Mrs DuMaurier

J C Bancroft

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  John Chandler Bancroft
John Chandler Bancroft (1822-1907), politician, diplomat and collector [more].

2.  George Du Maurier
George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier (1834-1896), author and caricaturist [more].

3.  My wife
Harriet B. Bancroft (b. ca 1843), née James [more].

4.  Mrs Du Maurier
Emma Du Maurier (d. 1915), née Wightwick, wife of the writer[more].

5.  my eldest daughter
Hester, daughter of Harriet and John Chandler Bancroft.

6.  Flach
Captain Flach, Swedish Naval officer.

7.  Dr Cavaffy
Dr John Cavafy (ca 1839-1901), physician and collector, son of G. J. Cavafy [more].

8.  some pictures
The Last of Old Westminster (YMSM 39), Battersea Reach (YMSM 45), Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56) and Harmony in Blue and Silver: Trouville (YMSM 64).

9.  his wife
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

10.  one of them as a commission
E. G. Kennedy bought the pictures for £650 in June 1892, and agreed to return Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56) to JW.

11.  telegraph
JW to Cavafy, [8/9 June 1892?], #09839.

12.  line to Whistler
J. C. Bancroft to JW, 11 June 1892, #00248.

13.  New York dealer
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more].