The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11914
Date: [25-26 November 1878?][1]
Author: James Anderson Rose[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: [none]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC
Document Type: AD[3]


Whistler v [Rus]kin

Ptf [Plaintiff].

Fors clavigera[5] has a large circulation amongst the art public Patrons & [brothers?] of art

of Irish[6] descent
born in United [Stat]es (Maryland)
Educated in [Russia and] France

Novr 1872[7] Opening of [State?] Library
9 [portraits[8] etched?] in copper

Medal[9] for Etching Holland

Etching [in?] Amsterdam
country of Rembrandt

pupil of M. Glaire[10] [sic]
      Paris. fellow pupils [illegible]
            Poynter, Arm[strong] & DuMaurier.
8 or 9 years England
Xhibited at the Royale [sic] academy

Stones of Venice
Modern Painters

Libel . July 1877 Fors Clavigera Criticism on Exhibition in Sir Coutts Lindsay's Art Gallery[12] Grosvenor Gallery,

Is the notice of Ptf art criticism or mere reckless defamation
= It is not a fair criticism but simply low defamation - personal not painting
= & calculated to do Plt great pecuniary injury. -

a defamation of the man not a criticism of the painting

Notices in other papers of libel

Daily News[14] July 21. 1877
World         "   18.   "
Architect     "   14.   "
Academy     "   21.   "

Academy[15] Oct. 30. 1875.
Favorable criticism etc "Blue & Gold" criticises the very picture Ruskin attacks
It was exhibited at the Dudley Gallery - 1875

Ruskin ought to have inquired or examined more fully before publishing his libel.
Mr Whistler a well known artist. -

Damage General not special.
Rose v [Groves?]

99 Why does Whistler give these names to his pictures.

Pictures[16] in Summer Exhibition 1877
1. Nocturne in black & gold
2. Nocturne in blue & silver
3. Nocturne in blue & gold
4. Nocturne in blue & silver
5. Arrangement in black. Irving as Phillip [sic]
6. Harmony in Amber & Black
7. Arrangement in brown.

[p. 2] p. 21 Letter[17] of Plt to Rose

Novr 21. 1878.

Have always been known to hold an independent position in art.
academy opposed to me
although he has several times exhibited in the academy

Whistler's opinions

M[usic] is the poetry of sound
Painting is the poetry of sight
The subject matter has nothing to do
with harmony of sound or colour.

Why sho[ul]d. not I call my paintings, symphonies[,] arrangements, harmonies[,] nocturnes & so forth?

Arrangement in gray & black[18].
Portrait of his mother.
4 or 5 years ago
xhibited [sic] in the academy.
Sir Wm. Boxall[19].

First Work[20]
La Mère Gerard[21] - in poss[essio]n of Swinburne
The Piano Picture bought by John Phillip hung on the line of the "Salon"
The White Girl
The Wapping & Balcony Pictures.

Blue & White China
Lange Lisen[22] [sic] who pose in the [tall?] jars of China & Japan

[p. 3] Whistler v Ruskin

[99?]. as to exhibiting Plts pictures
Pictures not to be banded about like samples of butter

99 my letter before writ.

p. 25


W. M. Rosetti. [sic] art critic
Martin & O. B Colnaghi[24] . Picture Dealers
Albert Moore    Painter
W. G. Wills   Painter & Poet
Charles Keen [sic]    artist
John [sic] Tissot   artist
Josi [sic]  Engraver of Carlyle's picture[25]
Charles A. Howell    Picture Dealer
to prove damage

[p. 4] Tom Taylor[26]

Burne Jones[27] incomplete but
an admirable beginning
a work of art

The picture is composed of very high qualities[,] some masterly -

In colour alone this is a vy beautiful picture -

No composition -
very good colour

The colour is better even more beautiful but more formless

It does not aim at being more than a sketch -

Black & Gold[28]
It has not the merits of the other two[29]

I've never seen nights painted -
worth 200 gs.

Great Colour & great artistic skill to produce these paintings -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [25-26 November 1878?]
These appear to be notes taken on or immediately before the case of Whistler v. Ruskin, heard at the Queen's Bench of the High Court on 25-26 November 1878.

2.  James Anderson Rose
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more]. The document was kept among JW's legal papers with other records of the Whistler v. Ruskin trial.

3.  AD
The document is made up of scattered notes, especially on page one. For the purpose of this transcription these have been arranged in a more linear progression than their original context provides.

4.  2
Added in a circle, possibly by J. A. Rose.

5.  Fors clavigera
Ruskin, John, 'Letter the Seventy-ninth' Fors Clavigera, 2 July 1877, pp. 181-213.

6.  Irish
The Whistlers had originated in Ireland but JW's immediate ancestry on his mother's side was Scottish; he was not born in Maryland, but Lowell, Mass. At the trial he announced that he had been born in St. Petersburg!

7.  Novr 1872
Reference not identified.

8.  9 [portraits]
By this time JW had etched over fifty portraits. He may be referring to a group which included Becquet (K.52), Astruc, a literary man (K.53) and Drouet (K.55), etched in 1859 (K.50-58, 60). Another group of mainly female portraits, including The Velvet Dress (K.105), dated from the 1870s (K. 102-03, 105-15).

9.  Medal
JW was awarded a gold medal for his etchings at the Tentoonstelling van Kunstwerken van Levende Meesters, Hague School of Art, Princessegracht, The Hague, 1863.

10.  Glaire
Marc-Charles-Gabriel Gleyre (1806-1874), painter [more]. JW's fellow pupils included Edward John Poynter (1836-1919), history and genre painter [more]; Thomas Armstrong (1832-1911), artist and Director of Art, South Kensington Museum [more]; and George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier (1834-1896), author and caricaturist [more].

11.  Ruskin
Double underlined. The reference is: Ruskin, John, Modern Painters, London, 1843-60, and Ruskin, John, The Stones of Venice, 3 vols, London, 1851-3.

12.  Sir Coutts Lindsay's Art Gallery
Sir Coutts Lindsay (1824-1913), Bart., co-founder of the Grosvenor Gallery [more]. The reference is to 1st Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1877.

13.  97
The questions raised in the trial were numbered to ensure that all points were answered.

14.  Daily News
[DNews18770721; World18770718; Arch18770714; Acad18770721]

15.  Academy
[Acad18771030]. Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170) was exhibited at 9th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1875.

16.  Pictures
JW exhibited seven oils at the 1st Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1877 (cat. nos. 5, 6A, 6, 4, 8, 9 and one ex. cat). These were Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 113), Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140) as 'Nocturne in Blue and Silver', Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Westminster Bridge (YMSM 145), Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170), Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181) as 'Harmony in Amber and Black', Arrangement in Brown (YMSM 182) and Arrangement in Black, No. 3: Sir Henry Irving as Philip II of Spain (YMSM 187). Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137), was exhibited in the entrance gallery (ex. cat.).

17.  Letter
JW's letter to Rose was dated on receipt, 21 November 1878 (#05230).

18.  Arrangement in gray & black
Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101). It was exhibited at 104th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1872, after the intercession of William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more].

19.  Sir Wm. Boxall
William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more].

20.  First Work
Double underlined.

21.  La Mère Gerard
JW gave La Mère Gérard (1) (YMSM 26) to Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909), poet and critic [more]. At the Piano (YMSM 24) was bought by John ('Spanish') Phillip (1817-1867), artist [more]. JW also lists Wapping (YMSM 35), Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38), and Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56).

22.  Lange Lisen
Purple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks (YMSM 47). It is clear that the transcriber was rendering the names phonetically, and was not familiar with the paintings.

23.  Witnesses
William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more]; Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), painter [more]; William Gorman Wills (1828-1891), playwright and painter [more];Charles Samuel Keene (1823-1891), etcher, cartoonist and illustrator [more]; Jacques ('James') Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), painter and etcher [more]; Richard Josey (1840-1906), reproductive engraver [more]; Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more] and Thomas ('Tom') Taylor (1817-1880), civil servant, dramatist, art critic, and editor of Punch from 1874-1880 [more]. Rossetti, Moore and Wills appeared as witnesses for JW, Taylor appeared as a not-very-hostile witness for Ruskin. See Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, pp. 141-45 for JW's testimony, pp. 154-58 for Rossetti, pp. 158-59 for Moore, pp. 160-61 for Wills; and, on Ruskin's side, pp. 171-76 for Burne-Jones, pp. 176-78 for W. P. Frith, and pp. 178-80 for Taylor. 'Witnesses' is double underlined.

24.  Colnaghi
Oswald Bernard Colnaghi (b. ca 1827), art dealer [more].

25.  Carlyle's picture
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137). It was engraved by Richard Josey (1840-1906), reproductive engraver [more].

26.  Tom Taylor
Thomas ('Tom') Taylor (1817-1880), civil servant, dramatist, art critic, and editor of Punch from 1874-1880 [more]. Double underlined.

27.  Burne Jones
Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more]. His name here is double underlined. This appears to be a record of his testimony during the trial. He was embarassed by having to appear on Ruskin's behalf, for which JW never forgave him (Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, pp. 171-76).

28.  Black and Gold
Double underlined.

29.  other two
Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 113) and Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140) were compared in court to Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170) (see Merrill, Linda, A Pot of Paint: Aesthetics on Trial in 'Whistler v. Ruskin', Washington and London, 1992, pp. 171-76). 'other two' is double underlined.