The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: sea pieces
Record 22 of 30

System Number: 01834
Date: [12/15 December 1893?][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: Algernon Graves[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G199
Document Type: ALd

110. Rue du Bac. Paris -

Dear Mr Graves -

I don't think it necessary to turn on the hinds of the law - or the hounds either! -

You dont want surely to write history in this way! with one hand to give to the Nation the palette of Sir Joshua[3] - and with the other turn loose the bailifs [sic] upon Whistler! -

Well indeed is it that the right hand[4] should not know what the left hand doeth -

What is the reason also for such [p. 2] unbecoming course in your hitherto s

Why this viole[5] - kind of an appearance will you make think you,

Why risk in a moment of deplorable haste, drop this monstrous blot under the nose of the recording angel[6] upon the pretty page of your amiable relations with the distinguished men of your time - What explanation will you give hereafter - when called to account by an indignant posterity for the annoyance you gave caused their chosen painter and the interference with his work? - Do you fancy will you tell them of your little bill - and that the do fancy that because it was your privelege [sic] to find yourself in the friendly intimatecy relations of a Creditor, that the angry people will be satisfied you will be forgiven for having failed to un to appreciate abused your position -

It will be no excuse that you have not understood the priveleged [sic] of your role.

It will then be unpardonable thus that you should have not under failed in the appreciative demeanour [sic] becoming to theyour role of

It is all right my dear Mr G - I mean do intend to pay of the you - and that I suppose is what you really wish to be sure of - I have not written I know - but then that means nothing - I am at work - and if I am let alone I hope in time - Think of[7] the years of vexation and trouble in England - and of the you know yourself from the slight esteem in which my work was held in your own house how impossible things were - And look now - these [made the?] those men who own these depreciated works are now making thousands out of my labour - my brain - my name -

[p. 3] At the present moment I have in the Grafton Gallery three sea pieces [8]- quite new - fresh and beautiful - I want four hundred apiece for them - Suppose you buy one and send me a cheque for two hundred - and deduct the other two hundred from your account -

You will make a good thing out of it certainly - The Whistlers are becoming valuable - The Little White Girl, for which Mr Potter[9] gave me 150 - or 100, I forget which - he has just sold for a thousand - and

for [10]patient though you think you have been - I really have not had time - for what could I do in England over there where the people were openly warned against buying from me by Mr Ruskin[11], Mr. B. Jones[12] and the Attorney Genl.[13] of Eng. not to buy from me the works that now these pedling [sic] "Art Patrons" are selling for thousands - it is scandalous! - When I was with yourselves you didn't believe in me - or you would have been making lots of money now - [Your?] Father[14] was always very nice and courteous & amiable - but most kind - Well now cannot you stop all this and leave me alone You are wealthy one of the richest so they say - & in no way need this money - In a year or so things will be different - & I have you know paid some - But I have never had a chance to pay the rest yet -

When you come to Paris come and see me - and you will understand everything in a moment -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [12/15 December 1893?]
Dated by reference to paintings at the Grafton Gallery, London (see below).

2.  Algernon Graves
Algernon Graves (1845-1922), of H. Graves and Co., print dealers [more]. The firm of H. Graves and Co. had lent JW money in the 1870s on security of several paintings, including Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137); JW was still apparently paying off his debt.

3.  Sir Joshua
Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), painter [more].

4.  right hand...
Allusion to Matthew 6.3, 'But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth'.

5.  Why this viole
'Why ... think you' was added at the top of p. 2.

6.  angel
The imagery of the recording angel and the book is influenced by Revelation, chapters 10 and/or 20.

7.  Think a moment -
The remainder of the letter is written in pencil. There are gaps in the draft, and the order is not entirely clear.

8.  three sea pieces
Violet and Silver: A Deep Sea (YMSM 411), Dark Blue and Silver (YMSM 412) and Violet and Blue: Among the Rollers (YMSM 413) (see JW's letter to D. C. Thomson, #08287, and Thomson's reply, dated 12 December 1893, #05795).

9.  Potter
John Gerald Potter (1829-1908), wallpaper manufacturer and patron [more] had sold Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52).

10.  for
'for ... in a moment' is written in the left hand margin of pp 3 and 1, and the top margin of p. 3, at right angles to the main text.

11.  Mr Ruskin
John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more].

12.  Mr. B. Jones
Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more].

13.  Attorney Genl.
Sir John Holker (1828-1882), Attorney General, counsel for John Ruskin [more].

14.  Father
Henry Graves (1806-1892), print dealer and founder of H. Graves and Co. [more].