The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 2 of 141

System Number: 11386
Date: June 1867[1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: [unknown]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published
Document Type: PD[2]


How pleasing that such profound prattle should inevitably find its place in print! Not precisely a symphony in white[3] . . . . for there is a yellowish dress . . . . brown hair, etc. . . . . another with reddish hair . . . . and of course there is the flesh colour of the complexions.

Bon Dieu! did this wise person expect white hair and chalked faces? And does he then in his astounding consequence, believe that a symphony in F contains no other note, but shall be a continued repetition of F, F, F? . . . . Fool!

[butterfly signature]


June 1867.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  June 1867
JW's outburst was in response to a review published in the Saturday Review on 1 June, 1867, by Philip Gilbert Hamerton (1834-1894), author, critic and artist [more]. The date could, however, possibly be November 1878, as this text appears as a note, written in JW's hand, alongside the Saturday Review press-cutting in Whistler Press-Cuttings, vol. 3. Robert Getscher and Paul Marks suggest that the ink used by JW for the note matches exactly that of a further note below it dated November 1878. See Getscher, Robert H., and Paul G. Marks, James McNeill Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Two Annotated Bibliographies, New York and London, 1986, p. 26, B. 2.

2.  PD
The original note is untraced. This transcribed text was later published in Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, London and New York, 1890 and Whistler, James McNeill, The Gentle Art of Making Enemies, 2nd ed., London and New York, 1892, p. 45.

3.  symphony in white
Symphony in White, No. I: The White Girl (YMSM 38).