The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: society election
Record 5 of 14

System Number: 05314
Date: [1 November 1887?][1]
Author: The Royal Society of British Artists[2]
Place: [London]
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler R210
Document Type: PD

To receive the Balance Sheet.

To receive a proposition from the President to alter the staircase.

To receive also from the President the following propositions:

That this Society of British Artists having been constituted and appointed by Her Most Gracious Majesty[3], in this Her year of Jubilee, a Royal Society, with all the rights, powers, privileges, and advantages to such a Royal Society appertaining, it is proper and necessary that the indulgence, heretofore extended to persons resigning their membership, should cease and determine.

Be it therefore resolved that any resignation of membership offered to this Royal Society, shall take effect instantly upon its presentation and acceptance at any General Meeting.

That this Society having been recognised and constituted by the personal Act and Will of Her Most Gracious Majesty, as Her Royal Society of British Artists, it is obviously unbecoming and improper that any person being, or desiring to become a member of this Royal Society, should affiliate himself, or remain affiliated, with any other association of Artists established in London.

Be it therefore resolved that any person, now a member of this Royal Society, who, before the bestowal upon it, by Her Most Gracious Majesty, of the rights and privileges involved in the assumption of the Royal Title, may have allowed himself to become connected with any of the associations above referred to is hereby required immediately to elect whether he will sever such, henceforth, improper and unbecoming connection, or tender his resignation as a member of this Royal Society.

And that any member, falling under the force of this resolution, who shall fail, at or before the next General Meeting of this Royal Society, to notify this Royal Society of his election, as aforesaid, shall be thereby held to have tendered his resignation, and that the said resignation shall be taken and held as accepted and final, without further proceedings.

That Bye-laws 46, 47, and the portion of Bye-law 43 relating to Peers of the Realm, and Members of Parliament, are, in their [p. 2] spirit and tone, foolish and unworthy, tending to bring upon this, Her Majesty's Royal Society of British Artists, derision and contempt.

That they be therefore expunged from the book of Bye-laws, as offensive and incompatible with the dignity of this Royal Society.

To elect a member to serve on the Hanging Committee in place of Mr. Caffieri[4] (resigned).

The private view list having been carefully revised, members are requested to send to the Secretary, as soon as possible, the names they wish to be retained on the list.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [1 November 1887?]
This is an extract from the RBA printed agenda for the meeting of 1 November 1887. There are at least five drafts (#05310, #05311, #05312, #05313, #01194) of JW's proposal on limiting membership, which was put to the half yearly meeting of the RBA on 1 November 1887 (see #13402). This is probably the final printed version of those drafts.

2.  The Royal Society of British Artists
JW was elected President of the Society of British Artists on 1 June 1886 and took office in December. On the occasion of Queen Victoria's fiftieth Jubilee, on 20 June 1887 JW sent an illuminated address on behalf of the SBA (see M.1133-6). A set of twelve etchings, the 'Naval Review set', 1887 (K. 316-331) (excat 7) was presented to the Queen in a specially designed album (see M.1132-3, 1138-45). Whistler then sent a Memorial to the Queen requesting that the Society be called 'Royal'. The SBA received a Royal Charter, thus becoming the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA).

3.  Her Most Gracious Majesty
Victoria (1819-1901), Queen of Great Britain [more].

4.  Mr. Caffieri
Hector Caffieri (1847-1932), artist [more]. JW was keen to accept Caffieri's resignation, presumably because they did not agree on the hanging of exhibitions (see his letters to H. H. Cauty, #03101, #13121).