The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: influence of JW
Record 2 of 4

System Number: 06628
Date: [26 October 1895][1]
Author: Beatrix Whistler[2]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: Lyme Regis
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W622
Document Type: ALS[3]



'Oct. 26. 1895.'

Dearest Jim -

we have just got back[4] - You have no idea how dreadful it all is!! terrible! To begin with it is in an awful gerry built red brick horror, the last house in a row of shops, in front there is a shop, and you enter at the side into a narrow [p. 2] stone passage, as dark and damp as possible, I think it was painted grey & with a dado and pictures above in panels - [sketch of panels] - (in fact, it is all alike, horrors in panels above a dado & there is no attempt at any thing original - old groves[5] decorations in the billiard room are beautiful compared with them!)

They[6] have remembered any thing and every thing you [p. 3] ever did, even to the Japanese panels in your drawing room, your brown paper sketches, the Balcony[7], Battersea Bridge[8] - Irving as Philip[9], the patterns on your frames!!

They have painted the frames on the walls with yellow paint, with shaddows and with the blossom pattern, the shell the wave, &c. &c.!!!

In the hall they are a mixture of yours and Albert Moore[10] - Ladies in white on a white [p. 4] sofa with azaleas in pots, - too terribly bad all out of drawing, absolutely childish!

This [is] a recollection of one - a girl leaning on a marble balustrade talking to a man in white in a boat supposed to be you I think - (mine does not look so bad) - Further on they have nocturnes - of Chelsea Chelsea, in different stages - Cremorne[11]. &c

Then we went in the theatre - This was distempered a dull [p. 5] grey-green - with square panels of Classic figures, done in a sort of monochrome, very like the decorations in country theatres, dreadful, dreadful, dreadful - Then there was Carlyle[12] - !! Too funny., [sketch of Carlyle] this is much too good for he looks as if he were [p. 6] balanced on one toe - at first I could not understand it, but at last, I discovered that they had painted him on the same grey ground, had only very faintly out-lined the top of the pedestal - so he how they can expect to get a birds eye view of the top from below - I dont know, it is like Lady Archie's[13] [p. 7] hats! On the end wall opposite the stage, is an awful thing, perfectly crazy! of the (I am not quite sure) the statue scene in the "Winter's Tale[14]". and it is under this horror they have put "Pupils of Whistler[15]". Then there are two rooms hung with full length portraits. Philip IV[16] - a pendant to that of a lady in a ruff with a quilted front to her dress - a lady [p. 8] in white playing a fiddle, with fans pinned on the wall behind - and an azalea in a pot - then there is an awful black one - a portrait of one of them in black with buckles on the shoes and a ruff!!! Two or three classic ladies with pots, [sketch of woman with pot of flowers] flowers on the floor, a travesty of the Balcony two or three recollections of your peacocks[17]

[p. 9] I can't give you any idea of the drawing!! Another room, with an imitation of the "Fire Wheel[18]", a "Chelsea in ice[19]". There! I cant go on - it was like a sort of hideous Whistlerian chaos, I felt quite mad and sick - I laughed out loud at last, I couldnt help it and turned round [p. 10] to find the man who showed us round was laughing too,

Its frantic - My, God - I could kill them - conceited ignorant - miserable gutter born wretches -

Dont dont write - write to them - if you like and insist they wipe out the pupil business, dont my own dear darling love - draw any attention to them [p. 11] besides, the place will be rotten in 10 years, it is running with damp and beginning to peal off. They have been at it for four years!!!!

There are two rooms done with flowers, they are better, but recollected from you and the Japanese panels - they have even recollected the staircase at Leyland's[20]. - This must go - but for [p. 12] once be wise -

It is the most screaming farce - dont send more people to see it,

Lui[21] says she saw - "pupils of Whistler" on several frames - in the hall

Funny - they had only just left when we got there, Jimmie it is exactly like the people on the pavement, no better[22]!!??

My darling - dont write to the papers. You must go and see for your self. I cannot give you any idea -

God bless you
Your loving

[flower signature]

[p. 13, on a card:] [sketch of paintings on gallery wall] in Hall - with your portrait -

This document is protected by copyright.


'Oct. 26. 1895.'
'J. McNeill Whistler Esq.
The Royal Lion Hotel
Lyme Regis.
[stamp:] [half penny stamp]
[postmark:] [obscured]


1.  [26 October 1895]
Dated added on p. 1 and on the envelope in the hand of Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more]. The envelope is also written in her hand.

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

3.  ALS
The printed letterhead appears on pp. 1, 5 and 9.

4.  back
She had visited the new Streatham Town Hall (see #06627, #06629, #08379). 'Walter and Harry Greaves, Whistler's most faithful pupils ... gained a commission to decorate the new Streatham Town Hall. Between 1890 and 1895 they painted over a hundred murals, but their ignorance of the techniques of mural painting meant that ten years later the pictures were fading and the plaster falling off the wall. The building was later sold and became a warehouse, and the pictures, proving impossible to remove, were painted over.' (Pocock, Tom, Chelsea Reach: the Brutal Friendship of Whistler and Walter Greaves, London, 1970, pp. 129-30). The building was demolished in 1988.

5.  old groves
Probably John Grove (b. ca 1836), landlord of the Royal Lion Hotel, Lyme Regis [more], who is referred to as 'Old Grove' by JW in a letter to Beatrix, [28 November 1895], #06649.

6.  They
Walter Greaves (1846-1930), boatman and painter [more]; and Henry Greaves (1843-1904), boat builder and painter [more].

7.  Balcony
Variations in Flesh Colour and Green: The Balcony (YMSM 56).

8.  Battersea Bridge
For example, Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140).

9.  Irving as Philip
Arrangement in Black, No. 3: Sir Henry Irving as Philip II of Spain (YMSM 187).

10.  Albert Moore
Albert Joseph Moore (1841-1893), painter [more]. See for example, A. Moore, Jasmine (z41).

11.  Cremorne
The pleasure gardens; for example, Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Cremorne Lights (YMSM 115).

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

13.  Lady Archie's
Janey Sevilla Campbell (ca 1846 - d.1923), née Callander, Lady Archibald Campbell [more], who JW painted in Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181)

14.  Winter's Tale
William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, Act V, scene iii, where the supposedly dead Hermione appears as a statue that comes 'to life'.

15.  Pupils of Whistler
D. C. Thomson sent JW a cutting from the Star describing the decoration (22 October 95, #05825). Thomson offered to write to them himself to have the sign removed.

16.  Philip IV
Philip IV (1606-1665), King of Spain.

17.  peacocks
Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178).

18.  Fire Wheel
Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169).

19.  Chelsea in ice
Chelsea in Ice (YMSM 53).

20.  Leyland's
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more]. JW also decorated his staircase; see Panels from the Entrance Hall at 49 Princes Gate (YMSM 175).

21.  Lui
A friend, companion or nurse.

22.  no better
Triple underlined.