The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 12954
Date: 1 August [1867][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Committee of the Burlington Fine Arts Club[2]
Place: London
Repository: Victoria & Albert Museum, National Art Library, London
Call Number: PC12/6 MSL/1952/1353/2/5/10
Document Type: ALS[3]

'Aug. 18th /67[4]'

Burlington Club -.

Aug 1st

Gentlemen -

In reply to your letter[5] of the 31st of July, I have to say: that of course I have neither denied the punishment administered to Mr F. S. Haden[6], nor entered into any details concerning it, simply because I have yet to learn that the Committee of the Burlington Club have any right whatever to discuss that matter - When that is once established, I shall be [p. 2] charmed to relate, if it can be agreable [sic] to the Gentlemen, this, or any other little anecdote, within my power, that shall conduce to their amiable entertainment. - Meanwhile the question at issue, is the conduct[7] of the committee towards myself - It has not as yet been made clear to me that any group, whose special profession it is not, shall make it their 'custom always of an afternoon' to discuss the private affairs of a gentleman and entertain any information respecting him; - and having taken upon themselves [p. 3] to treat this Gentleman with marked want of courtesy, should conceive it possible to maintain this peculiar pursuit or drop it at their pleasure! -

I have therefore again to direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that my letters[8] of the 14th. and 25th. of June remain substantially unanswered -

I have, Gentlemen,
the honor to be
Your obedient servant

J. A. McNeill Whistler

To the Gentlemen of the Committee of the Burlington Club -

[p. 4] (10)

'Read[9] 27 Nov. 1867'
Consideration postponed -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  1 August [1867]
Year date from recipient, and from context of the Burlington dispute (see below).

2.  Committee of the Burlington Fine Arts Club
The Burlington Club was a club for artists and connoisseurs. It was founded in c. June 1866 and located at 177 Piccadilly. Its committee included William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more] (President) and Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), history painter [more] (Secretary).

3.  ALS
See also #00443, a draft of this letter.

4.  'Aug. 18th /67'
Written in another hand in upper left-hand corner of sheet.

5.  your letter
See R. N. Wornum to JW, #11955.

6.  Mr F. S. Haden
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. The 'punishment' referred to by JW relates to his quarrel with Haden over his treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Traer died suddenly on 23 April 1867 of alcohol related causes, during a trip to Paris. Haden arranged for Traer's burial with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. On 26 April, a violent row took place between the brothers-in-law in a Paris café and Haden fell (or allegedly was pushed by JW) through a plate glass window. Both JW and Haden were members of the Burlington Club. Soon after the incident, Haden, a committee member, campaigned for JW to be excluded from the club, citing as evidence the Paris incident but also bringing to its attention several previous alleged incidents of assault (see JW to L. Huth, #02240).

7.  conduct
On 11 June, JW was asked to resign his membership on the threat of expulsion (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442). Aggrieved by the summary way in which he felt the Club had treated him, JW refused to entertain the charges against him, claiming the Club had no right to interfere in a private matter (see JW to L. Huth, #02240). He wrote to William Boxall and Louis Huth in protest: 'For some time back the members of the Committee have been accepting continual relays of information and collecting documents which as I now find involve even enclosures from utter strangers on my personal affairs! - And yet at an advanced stage of this elaborate system, the first notification which I receive, actually takes the form of an unmodified request to withdraw from the club at the risk of expulsion!!' (see JW to Burlington Fine Arts Club Committee, #00401)

8.  letters
See JW to R. N. Wornum, #00439.

9.  'Read ... postponed'
Note, probably by Wornum, about the presentation of the letter before the Committee.