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

return to search results

Documents associated with: health, cold
Record 14 of 31

System Number: 04550
Date: [9 December 1897][1]
Author: Elizabeth Robins Pennell[2]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P190
Document Type: ALS

Thursday evening


Dear Mr. Whistler,

I have been out of town all day, or I should have answered Miss Philip's[3] letter - your letter - more promptly to tell you that Joseph[4] is for the moment [illegible] away. He started off, with his bicycle, on Tuesday evening for Rotterdam [p. 2] and eventually Düsseldorf[.] It seemed almost mad, his cold still lingering. But I am in hopes the change will do him good - He will be back on Saturday or Sunday, and I must leave the answerings of the questions to him. My answers could not be so satisfactory. I hear indirectly that the Baronet[5] looked rather forlorn and insignificant at the New English Art Club banquet - Wandered about aimlessly [p. 3] alone, until he seemed almost as marked a personage as the Lone Fisherman in the play[6]. People asked who he was for the very reason that he did not look like anybody. And thus he carried off the rôle of new Maecenas[7]! I went to the Fine Art Society's a couple of days ago, but Mr. Brown[8] was not in to tell me what he thought of the trial, tomorrow I go to Goupils and hope to see Mr. Thomson[9] [p. 4] and give him my compliments with your message - he really deserves to be complimented - he could not have figured a greater advantage, then I shall write again and tell you what he has to say -

I have not been to the Gosses[10] but hope to go on Sunday - I saw George Moore[11], paler and sicklier than ever, at the performance of Mr. Henley's play[12], but not to speak to - I shall wait now about Mr. Ludovici[13] until Joseph's return. But when are we to see you? We have no more gay little eight o'clock dinners!

After my visit to the Goupil Gallery I shall write again[14] -

And with my greetings to Miss Philip
very Sincerely Yours

E. R. Pennell

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [9 December 1897]
This is probably a reply to a letter from R. Birnie Philip (writing on JW's behalf), 7 December 1897, #07866. The following Thursday was the 9th.

2.  Elizabeth Robins Pennell
Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855-1936), née Robins, JW's biographer [more].

3.  Miss Philip's
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].

4.  Joseph
Joseph Pennell (1860-1926), printer and illustrator, JW's biographer [more].

5.  Baronet
Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], had sued JW for possession of Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), a portrait of Eden's wife commissioned from JW. On St Valentine's Day, 1894, with the picture nearing completion, Eden had sent JW a cheque for 100 guineas. JW was dissatisfied with the portrait and refused to hand it over, believing it was the artist's right to withhold a picture until he felt it was fit to leave the studio. When Eden instituted legal proceedings against him in November 1894, JW returned all monies that had been paid to him. In December 1897 JW, on appeal, was permitted by the Cour de Cassation in Paris to keep the picture provided that he defaced it and did not make use of it. JW felt that his 'victory' in court vindicated his belief in the proprietorial rights of the artist over his work. JW published his account of the affair : Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24].

6.  Lone Fisherman in the play
The opera Si j'étais roi by Adolph Adam (1803-1856), with a libretto by P. Denney and J. Brésil, was first performed at the Théâtre Lyrique in Paris on 4 September 1852. It entered the repertory of the Opéra Comique, and is still popular today in both the original French and in English translation. It is a comic fairy-tale, in which a poor fisherman is put to sleep and wakes in a palace, where he is treated by everyone as if he is the King. The word 'Lone' is not clear and might have been intended to read 'Poor'.

7.  Maecenas
Gaius (Cilnius) Maecenas (d. 8 BC), Roman politician, known for his patronage of the arts [more].

8.  Mr. Brown
Ernest George Brown (1853 or 1854-1915), assistant manager at the Fine Art Society [more].

9.  Mr. Thomson
David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more].

10.  Gosses
Edmund William Gosse (1849-1928), writer and art critic [more], and his wife.

11.  George Moore
George Moore (1852-1933), novelist and art critic [more]. Moore first introduced Sir William Eden to JW.

12.  Mr. Henley's play
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903), journalist, poet and writer [more]. The play Admiral Guinea, written by Henley and Robert Louis Stevenson, opened on 29 November 1897 starring Elizabeth Robins (1865-1952), actress, novelist and campaigner [more].

13.  Mr. Ludovici
Albert Ludovici, Jr (1852-1932), painter [more].

14.  again
'again ... Pennell' is written in the left-hand margin of p. 4 at right-angles to the main text.