I wish through the Athenaeum to correct an error now current about the title of a picture of mine at the Society of French Artists, Bond Street. I am supposed to have named it 'The Yacht Race, a Symphony in B sharp'; and it is suggested that in so doing I have perpetuated a senseless pun. M. Deschamps did not purchase the picture from me, and I hear from him that he found the silly title in question written on the back of the canvas. The titles I have hitherto given to my pictures have been intended by me as a key to my work simply; but I cannot expect others, who do not understand them, to refuse themselves any witticism, like the above brilliant parody, on the subject. I have been prevented writing to you before by illness.
1. [15/22 November 1873]
The letter was written shortly before being published on 22 November 1873 (see below).
2. Editor, The Athenaeum
Published under 'Fine-Art Gossip,' Whistler, James McNeill, [Letter to the Editor], The Athenaeum, no. 2404, 22 November 1873, p. 666. Reprinted under 'TITLES A KEY TO MY WORK', in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890, p. 55. Ford's text was accurate, except that he added a signature. The letter, as originally published, was not signed, but the Athenaeum identified it as from JW (Getscher, Robert H., and Paul G. Marks, James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Two Annotated Bibliographies, New York and London, 1986, pp. 26-7, B. 3).
4. Society of French Artists
7th Exhibition, Society of French Artists, London, 1873.