The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 35 of 50

System Number: 05705
Date: 19 March 1892
Author: David Croal Thomson[1]
Place: London
Recipient: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler T50
Document Type: ALS

[royal coat of arms]

116 & 117, NEW BOND STREET, W.


19 March 1892


Dear Madam,

It having occurred to me that you would probably like to know something of the outside opinions on Mr Whistler's exhibition I venture to write to you about it.

First it must be recorded that the Exhibition is a great & legitimate artistic success. To those who have eyes to see, & fortunately they are increasing in number, the collection is the most notable event that has taken place in London [p. 2] for many many years & it will stand out for all future times as one of the epochs of art in this country.

Both our large rooms are filled with the pictures & the effect is magnificent. The three large portraits (Rosa Corder[3], Lady A. Campbell[4] & the Fur Jacket[5]) hang on our wall & they dwell in ones mind like the grand orchestral apl tones of a fine oratorio. They are magistral in every way, & their harmonies march along like heroes returning from victory. At the end of the gallery are the Miss Alexander[6][,] Battersea[7] [p. 3] Bridge & Chelsea Battersea reach[8] being on each side[.] The Miss Alexander is the most masterly work [are?] of all the collection & comment is useless before it. That it would & will take its place as one of the great portraits of the world there is not the least doubt. Battersea Bridge (Mr Ionides[9]') is perhaps my own favourite - it & the Harmony No. III of Mr Huths[10] which is in the smaller room.

The smaller gallery has mostly the smaller pictures & the effect of this salon is a contrast to the other, more gay perhaps & more easily understanded [sic] of the people, - equally triumphant in its result. The Japanese Screen[11] is here & the Music Room[12] & the Little White Girl[13] & many of the wondrous nocturnes & one's [sic] feels glad to live [p. 4] & be able to enjoy such beautiful things.

The portrait of 'Carlyle[14]' is in the centre of the large room with marines at each side. The Lady Meux[15] is on the other end wall, with the Venice[16] & Madame Coronios[17] Nocturne on each side.

The critics who came yesterday did not know what to say. There are not half a dozen of them capable of understanding these pictures & only two or three who dare say what they think. 'The Times' man for example speaks very intelligently to me about the pictures, but this morning[18] he only writes some little petty & pretty things which are of no consequence - doubtless because he is afraid of offending the Royal Academy & all the hangers on thereof. The writers on Art in London are complete nincompoops [p. 5] & afraid of their own voices. Several know but they cannot bring themselves to praise a living man as they know he ought to be praised. Some day, when it is too late, all the writers on Art in England will join in paeons [sic] of praise to the man they could not comprehend. It is a sad thing to think about & it sometimes makes me feel so angry that I could just go & knock my head against the wall!

To day the public are crowding in (I am writing this during a lull at lunch time) willing to admire & mostly doing so - Mr Whistler is becoming the fashion at least it is becoming the correct thing to pretend to admire him [p. 6] What a dreadful thing it is that people cannot learn more quickly. The rooms are crowded & every one is coming here. The triumph of the pictures & the artist is complete & we must hope that the recompense of the lucre will not be wanting. To day with so many people we can hardly hope to do much 'business', but we shall do all we can to bring some about next week.

You will doubtless come yourself to see this collection very soon

Believe me
Yours very truly

D. C. Thomson

Mrs Whistler

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  David Croal Thomson
David Croal Thomson (1855-1930), art dealer [more], had organised Nocturnes, Marines and Chevalet Pieces, Boussod, Valadon & Cie, Goupil Gallery, London, 1892.

2.  Beatrix Whistler
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more].

3.  Rosa Corder
Arrangement in Brown and Black: Portrait of Miss Rosa Corder (YMSM 203).

4.  Lady A. Campbell
Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242).

5.  Fur Jacket
Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181).

6.  Miss Alexander
Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander (YMSM 129).

7.  Battersea
Grey and Silver: Old Battersea Reach (YMSM 46).

8.  Battersea reach
Battersea Reach (YMSM 45).

9.  Mr Ionides
Alexander ('Aleco') Ionides (1840-1898), businessman [more], owned Brown and Silver: Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 33).

10.  Mr Huths
Louis Huth (1821-1905), collector [more], owned Symphony in White, No. 3 (YMSM 61).

11.  Japanese Screen
Possibly La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (YMSM 50).

12.  Music Room
Harmony in Green and Rose: The Music Room (YMSM 34).

13.  Little White Girl
Symphony in White, No. 2: The Little White Girl (YMSM 52).

14.  Carlyle
Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137).

15.  Lady Meux
Harmony in Pink and Grey: Portrait of Lady Meux (YMSM 229).

16.  Venice
Nocturne: Blue and Gold - St Mark's, Venice (YMSM 213).

17.  Madame Coronios
Aglaia Coronio (1834-1906), née Ionides, wife of George Coronio [more], owned Nocturne in Black and Gold: Entrance to Southampton Water (YMSM 179).

18.  morning
This is a long and fairly complimentary review, saying for instance that Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander (YMSM 129), formerly 'a monotony in mud-colour', was now 'brilliant and sparkling' (Anon., 'Mr Whistler's Exhibition', Times, 19 March 1892, p. 9f).