The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Browse Subjects > Document Display

return to search results

Documents associated with: sea pieces
Record 24 of 30

System Number: 01020
Date: 16 December [1894][1]
Author: Arthur Jerome Eddy[2]
Place: Chicago
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler E8
Document Type: ALS


My dear Mr Whistler -

Although it is about time for a letter from you, yet I cannot refrain from writing you and telling you how highly the Portrait[3] is appreciated by all who see it - As to the likeness, some think it subtle and perfect - others say they see more of you in it than of [p. 2] me - to those I simply say "Such is the fate of all who have portraits painted by J. McNeill Whistler". It is amusing to hear the comments - it is still more amusing to hear people say they like it simply (I know) because it is a Whistler. I have met several who rave over your mother's portrait[4] - to them I have said; "It makes me impatient to hear people rave over that portrait; for years all England laughed at it, now [p. 3] all England and all the world praise it, is it because the world is wiser? not at all, the world has no finer or truer appreciation of that wonderful picture than England had ten or fifteen years ago, "but it is the fashion to praise it." That and much more I said. Fools who would not dare talk about a poem they had not read, do not hesitate to express opinions about a picture they have not read - and how easy it is to read and understand a poem - how very dif-[p. 4]ficult it is to decipher pictures, written as they are in hieroglyp[h]ics to the multitude.

Of late Chicago has been talking about some portraits by John Alexander[5] - do you know him?

They are clever - in the sense Zorn[6] is clever - on coarse canvas, lustreless (something like Würtz work, Belgium) and evidently in style and tone inspired by your work; but in my opinion they are simply clever and unusual, undignified, hard, poor in drawing, angular in [p. 5][7] line and as portraits poor superficial likenesses. People frame them - it seems to be the fad just now to frame what is not understood, as it was the fashion twenty years ago to condemn everything not understood.

Mr. Lynch[8] has his marines well hung and perfectly lighted.

When may we expect all the pictures? [p. 6] and above all, when may we expect you and Mrs Whistler[9]? Name the day - you know these transAtlantic steamers are so perverse that they will sail at fixed hours - in spite of you. Durand Ruel[10] always takes the French line from Havre and likes it.

I cannot tell you how much I want to see you - we will have many a pleasant hour together. And I am sure something will be [p. 7] sold from the exhibition - or that you will paint something here - at least more than enough to pay all the expenses of the trip - tell Mrs Whistler this, for I believe that she is the more practical member of your delightful household -

As ever with lasting regard for Mrs Whistler and yourself

I am yours

Arthur J Eddy

Decem[be]r sixteenth

P. S. Mrs Eddy[11] is here at [p. 8] my shoulder and joins me in earnestly urging you to come and wishes me to tell you how much she thinks of the portrait, even though at first she wished you had caught some other expression or something of the kind - you know a wife or a mother sees things in a face that no one but God himself can see - even if He [send/made?] them -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  16 December [1894]
Dated by reference to portrait.

2.  Arthur Jerome Eddy
Arthur Jerome Eddy (1859-1920), writer and collector [more].

3.  Portrait
Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Brown: Portrait of Arthur J. Eddy (YMSM 425)

4.  mother's portrait
Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101).

5.  John Alexander
John White Alexander (1856-1915), portrait painter and decorator [more].

6.  Zorn
Anders Leonard Zorn (1860-1920), painter, etcher and sculptor [more].

7.  [p. 5]
Printed address is repeated at top of this page (as on p. 1), but is not re-transcribed here.

8.  Mr. Lynch
John A. Lynch (1853-1938), Chicago banker [more]; he had bought Violet and Silver: A Deep Sea (YMSM 411).

9.  Mrs Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more]; they did not go to America, partly because Beatrix was ill, with growing symptoms of the cancer that caused her death in 1896.

10.  Durand Ruel
Paul Durand-Ruel (1828 or 1831-1922), Paris art dealer [more].

11.  Mrs Eddy
Lucy Crapo Eddy (b. 1863), née Orrell, wife of A. J. Eddy [more].