The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 18 of 82

System Number: 12956
Date: 11 June [1867][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Rodolph Nicholson Wornum[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Call Number: National Art Library, PC12/6 MSL/1952/1353/2/5/3
Document Type: ALS[3]

[p. 2] 2 Lindsey Row.
Old Battersea bridge
Chelsea -

June 11.

Sir -

I have received the communication you addressed to me on behalf of the Committee of the Burlington Club[4] - and write at once what seems necessary to be said at the moment: -

My greatest surprise is to find that this matter, a personal affair utterly unconnected with the club, being taken in hand at all, should have gone so far [p. 2] without my being consulted in any way!

That the gentlemen of the committee should unanimously receive the ex parte[5] statement of one[6] of their own body, and instead of writing to the accused member of the club, instantly condemn him, is only surpassed, perhaps, by the astounding suggestion that he should quietly withdraw and so confirm any aspersions cast upon him! -

Upon the slightest reflection it will doubtless be clear to the gentlemen of [p. 3] the Committee, that the very fact of the detailed complaints laid before them by Mr Seymour Haden[7] without previously warning me of his intention, is in itself an act unbecoming a gentleman, and speakings strangely for his good faith! -

I have therefore to say that instead of retiring from the Club at Mr Haden's instigation, I have to request that a court of inquiry be held, and if it be judged that in this affair Mr Haden's conduct has been that becoming a gentleman, I shall gladly cease to be a member of the Burlington Club. -

I have the honor to be, Sir
Your obedient Servant

J. A. M. Whistler

[p. 4] (2)

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  11 June [1867]
Dated from R. N. Wornum to JW, #00437, and references to F. S. Haden (see note below).

2.  Rodolph Nicholson Wornum
Ralph Nicholson Wornum (1812-1877), history painter [more]. The Burlington Club Committee included William Boxall (1800-1879), portrait painter, Director of the National Gallery [more], Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more], Richard Fisher (d. 1890), Fellow and Curator of the Society of Painter-Etchers [more], and Vittorio Emanuelle Taparelli (1816-1890), Marquis D'Azeglio, Sardinian Ambassador and collector [more] (President). JW had received a request from Wornum for his resignation from the Club on the threat of expulsion (see R. N. Wornum to JW, #10442).

3.  ALS
See also draft version of this letter, #00436.

4.  Burlington Club
A reference to the Burlington Fine Arts Club, a club for artists and connoisseurs. It was founded early in 1866 and located at 177, Piccadilly. JW was proposed as a member on 22 February 1867 (see William Boxall, Louis Huth and Marquis d'Azeglio, proposers, #11957).

5.  ex parte
A legal term meaning an application on behalf of one party only.

6.  one
Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Haden, over Haden's treatment of James Reeves Traer (ca 1834 - d.1867), partner in F. S. Haden's medical practice [more]. Traer died on a trip to Paris, allegedly in a brothel. 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, having brought to its attention several alleged previous incidents of assault involving JW (JW to L. Huth, #02240). JW wrote to William Boxall and Louis Huth in protest: 'For some time back the members of the Committee have been accepting continual relays of information and collecting documents which as I now find involve even enclosures from utter strangers on my personal affairs! - And yet at an advanced stage of this elaborate system, the first notification which I receive, actually takes the form of an unmodified request to withdraw from the club at the risk of expulsion!!' (see #00401).

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