The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: marriage (JW and BW)
Record 42 of 57

System Number: 10081
Date: [27 September/October 1888?][1]
Author: JW
Place: Tours
Recipient: Charles James Whistler Hanson[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PLfc[3]

[Tours, France.]

['referring to the cutting off of the water supply at Vale House[4]. Speaking of some American Agents with reference to an enclosed letter, to be taken to George Lewis[5], he says']

That the Fords[6] would have me sign away my future altogether. He will see at a glance that it is clear that I myself can easily make the fortune they are so anxious to share with me, taking the lion's portion the while - and I think he might, without at all allowing them to suppose that he has any knowledge of the letters, send for them and say to them, that upon considering the contract itself, as submitted by them, he felt that he could not possibly allow his simple client to sign anything of the kind - it is most amazing in coolness to suggest that I should be 'farmed' by them, [...]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [27 September/October 1888?]
Dated from address and reference to the Fords (see note below). An envelope is recorded, with the date (perhaps from a postmark) of 'September, 1888'.

2.  Charles James Whistler Hanson
Probably Charles James Whistler Hanson (1870-1935), engineer, son of JW and Louisa Fanny Hanson [more], who was then acting as JW's secretary. JW was in France on a working honeymoon, after his marriage to Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more], on 11 August. The Whistlers remained there until early November, apart from a brief spell in London in mid September. See JW to H. Whistler, #06713. They stayed around Tours from c. 12-28 September (#05215). JW wrote a series of letters to the Fords during this period (see #01449; #01451; #01443; #01449).

3.  PLfc
This is a fragment of a letter included in a sale catalogue entry published in E. Parsons & Sons, Catalogue no. 288, item 849. Original one-page letter written in pencil, and described as having been autograph and signed, and in an envelope.

4.  Vale House
No. 2, The Vale, off the King's Road, known as the 'Pink Palace.' JW held the lease there until c. May 1888.

5.  George Lewis
Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].

6.  Fords
Sheridan Ford (1860-1922), poet, critic, politician and writer on art [more], and Mary Bacon Ford, née Martin, art agent [more]. JW's anxiety stemmed from the Fords' plans to become his art agent. From an original proposal that JW should do a series of twenty etched plates of Spain for the American magazine the Art Age, the Fords went on to draw up a document contracting JW to them and a syndicate of investors in New York to produce 'a set or sets' of etchings to be entitled 'Whistler's American Etchings'. It required him not only to work on the plates in America but to undertake other commissions and lecture on art during his trip. It invested principal control over his affairs with the Fords and their syndicate. Worse still was the condition that 'for two years after its expiration' (once JW had returned to London), he would be prohibited from revisiting America 'for any of these purposes' (see M. B. Ford to JW, #01448, letter dated 27 September 1888).