The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 13200
Date: [15 January 1888][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Editor[2], Sunday Times
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PL[3]

Sir, -

You, who are, I perceive, in your present brilliant incarnation, an undaunted and undulled pursuer of pleasing truths, listen, I pray you, while again I indicate, with sweet argument, the alternative of the bewildered one.

Notably, it is not necessary that the "Art Critic" should distinguish between the real and the "reproduction," or otherwise understand anything of the matter of which he writes - for much shall be forgiven him - yet surely, as I have before now pointed out, he might inquire.

Had the expounder of Exhibitions, travelling for the Magazine of Art[4], asked the Secretary[5] in the galleries of the Royal Society of British Artists, he would have been told that the "Notes"[6] on the staircase, and in the vestibule, are not "delightful sketches in Indian ink and crayon ... reproduced in marvellous facsimile by Boussod, Valadon & Co.[7] .... unworthy [p. 2] the glories of facsimile reproduction, and imposing margin" .... while "the chief honours of the portfolio, however, belong to the publishers" - but are, disconcerting as I acknowledge it to be, themselves the lithographs from nature, drawn on the stone upon the spot.

Thus easily provided with paragraph, he would also have been spared the mortification of rebuke from his well-meaning and embarrassed employers.

Let the gentleman be warned - let him learn that the foolish critic only, - looks - and brings disaster, upon his paper - the safe and well-conducted one "informs himself."

Yours, Sir, gently,

[butterfly signature]

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1.  [15 January 1888]
Date of publication in the Sunday Times.

2.  Editor
Possibly Daniel Whittle Hannay or Joseph Moses Levy.

3.  PL
Published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, pp. 197-98, in a slightly different version from the original in the Sunday Times, 15 January 1888, #13792. See also a draft version of this letter, #01723.

4.  Magazine of Art
JW was quoting from a short unsigned note published in Anon., 'The Chronicle of Art: Engravings and Prints,' The Magazine of Art, vol. Il, December 1887, p. 12. See also Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, p. 196. The 'Art Critic' was probably Marion Henry Alexander Spielmann (1858-1948), journalist and writer on art [more] (see JW to M. H. Spielmann, #09327).

5.  Secretary
Horace Henry Cauty (1846-1909), historical and genre painter [more].

6.  Notes
The article in the Magazine of Art announced the issue of a 'brown paper portfolio of half a dozen "Notes", reproduced in marvellous facsimile by Boussod, Valadon and Co.' These were, in fact, a group of lithographs - Limehouse (C.7), Nocturne (C.8), Gaiety Stage Door (C.14), Victoria Club (C.15), Reading (C.17) and Old Battersea Bridge (C.18). They were printed by Thomas Way (1837-1915), lithographic printer [more]. Two of them, Gaiety Stage Door and Reading, formed part of JW's submission to Winter Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887-1888.

7.  Boussod, Valadon & Co.
Firm of art dealers and printsellers.