The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 4 of 48

System Number: 12133
Date: 20 February 1868
Author: Wrentmore & Son[1]
Place: London
Recipient: James Anderson Rose[2]
Place: London
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscripts Division, Pennell Whistler Collection, PWC 2/48/53
Document Type: ALS


43 Lincolns Inn Fields W. C.

20th Febry 1868

Dear Sir,

We have written to your client Mr. J. A. Whistler (who has referred us to you) two letters[4] dated respectively the 4th and 10th inst. Requesting him to furnish us with his authority for certain expressions and reports[5] which according to our Instructions he has repeatedly & publicly used and which are injurious to the honor and reputation of our Client Mr. F. Seymour Haden[6].

These letters have been written because of the currency acquired by the reports in question, and because it has lately been conveyed to Mr. Haden that your Client has excused himself for making these by stating that he derived his authority for them from Mr. Philip Owen[7] of the South Kensington Museum, Mr. Whistler's statement being as we are instructed, that in an interview which he had with Mr. Owen at the Office of the British Commission in Paris, in the month of April last, Mr. Owen [p. 2] told him that the death of a certain Mr Traer[8] had been caused by the cruelty[9] and ill treatment of Mr Haden, whereas, we are further instructed, the death of the said Mr Traer arose from delirium tremens and his own misconduct, and in spite of earnest and protracted efforts on Mr Haden's part to save him.

We desire to obtain from your client a formal avowal or disavowal whether your Client so excused himself at the interview alluded to and the means of tracing to its source and meeting an injurious calumny, and (consistently with the attainment of the object we have in view) to do this, with the least possible molestation of Mr J. A. Whistler.

We are
dear Sir
Yours truly

Wrentmore & Sons

J. A. Rose Esqre
11 Salisbury St
Strand. W C

'Wrentmore & Son[10]
20 Feby 1868
Whistler & Haden'

[p. 3] 'Whistler[11]
Wrentmore & Sons. 20 Feb. 1868'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  33
Written in another hand, possibly that of J. A. Rose.

2.  Wrentmore & Son
Firm of solicitors acting for Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more] (see note below).

3.  James Anderson Rose
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more].

4.  two letters
See Wrentmore & Son to JW, #11981, #11853. JW suspected that Haden was trying to provoke him into action: 'The fact is, I understand that Haden is writing another infamous pamphlet on poor old Traer!! and possibly wishes me to produce some letter which he may print and contradict in his book! ' (see JW to J. A. Rose, #11839). Rose advised him to refer Wrentmore & Son to him (see J. A. Rose to JW, #11855).

5.  reports
These related to JW's long-running dispute with F. S Haden and the Burlington Fine Arts Club, a club for artists and connoiseurs. In late April 1867, JW quarrelled with Haden, over his treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Traer had died on a trip to Paris on 23 April of alcohol related causes. Haden arranged for Traer's burial with what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste. Haden later claimed that in the resulting confrontation, JW had pushed him through a plate glass window. Both JW and Haden were members of the Burlington Club and in the aftermath of the Traer affair Haden campaigned for JW to be excluded from the club, having brought to its attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (JW to L. Huth, #02240). JW was expelled at a general meeting of the Club on 13 December (see JW to W. Boxall, #00498). Undeterred, he appealed to the President of the Club, the Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more] (who had been absent from the meeting) in January 1868 (see JW to Marquis D'Azeglio, #00448). He also attempted to discredit Haden's allegations, much to Haden's anger (see, for example, JW to H. Davidson, #00802). Later he threatened to make known his version of the 'facts' of Haden's case against him 'not only in London but in Paris' (see JW to F. S. Haden, #01939).

6.  F. Seymour Haden.
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more].

7.  Philip Owen
Sir Philip Cunliffe Owen (d. 1894), Director, South Kensington Museum [more]. Owen was in Paris as the representative of Sir Henry ('King') Cole (1808-1882), civil servant and museum director [more], in the British section of the Universal Exhibition, Paris, 1867. According to Haden, Sir Francis Seymour, Paris Jurors: a Letter to Henry Cole …, London, 1867, in February 1867, Haden successfully prevented the appointment of James Traer as an associate juror for the Exposition on personal and professional grounds. When, in late April, he heard that Traer had been appointed after all and was in Paris after all, he was outraged. However, his efforts to obtain an explanation from Owen were ignored. Paris Jurors is Haden's account of the incident.

8.  Mr Traer
James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more].

9.  cruelty
In a letter (#01936), JW accused Haden of slandering Traer's reputation and professional conduct. He also charged him with obstructive behaviour in relation to their medical partnership. Haden's wife Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more], disputed his behaviour: 'Seymr has for the last year put up with more than most people would have done from a partner who has [been] ruining & disgracing him[.] He offered him an amicable separation upon what were considered by good judges generous & liberal terms. Traer ignored every thing & for six weeks had absented himself entirely' (see D. D. Haden to JW, #01915).

10.  Wrentmore & Son ... Haden
Written upside down at bottom of sheet, possibly in the hand of J. A. Rose.

11.  Whistler Wrentmore ... 1868
Written in another hand, possibly that of J. A. Rose.