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

return to search results

Documents associated with: finance, receipt
Record 34 of 35

System Number: 07290
Date: 4 November 1897
Author: Edward Guthrie Kennedy[1]
Place: New York
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W1278
Document Type: ALS


H W & CO.
868 B'WAY N- Y-

Nov. 4th 1897

My dear friend "Veestlaire",

I was gratified (and am still) to receive your letter[2] of the 25th Oct. or thereabouts, from Paris. The receipt for 170 /- /- odd, was enclosed all right.

Before saying any thing about myself I will take up your letter seriatim[3]. You say that you have been frightfully hard at work. Why? Why not take it easy? Johnson[4] said "No man works sir, unless he's compelled to". I know you have said, "he's an awful bore", but reflect, he was a good hater! I am sorry that the Eden business[5] is coming up again. I hope it [p. 2] will be finished this time.

Avoid the law, my friend, but not the profits.

The London Sparrow[6]. Yes, when ready let me know, but as you have a conscience, I'm sure you will charge me less than 500 /- /- for it. Do you know that Whistlers are dutiable now? He has lived too long abroad to be considered American any more, so the Treasury rules!! So, stranger to your own Country, come over after the Eden affair is settled, and go to Biltmore. Then to N. Y. where the canvas back duck[7] & other luxuries abound. Come over! then we can get Whistler's through duty free.

That's a good name, the Company of the Butterfly[8]. Who are the Share holders? who compose it?

You were shocked at my letter [p. 3] (2)[9] and I don't blame you. I intended you to be shocked in two ways. First, in order to stimulate you to write to me. (you did not write at all in 1895) by exciting your resentment, as there is nothing good except in France, according to the Whistlerian gospel.

Secondly, I thought you might say "Yes, it's true I owe O'K. four pictures[10], and it's pretty cool telling him that I will give them to the Louvre, or one of them, for he bought them at my own figure. I will therefore finish them as agreed, and sensibly pocket the cash. If I have[11]" - but I thought you would give up reflect not have thought thus, so ceased reflecting, but [p. 4] send the reflections to you just the same, though I suppose you will at once resolve not to reflect in any such manner and will put this letter where "no mortal eye shall even" &c. &c.

Didn't you get my telegram from Southampton, which I gave to the agent of the American Line to send to you, "Au revoir Veestlaire" à la Boldini[12]?

I got the mezzotint[13]. No, I don't think it will go here. I will try it however. The whole thing is a copy of Watts[14].

The cutting from the Mail is very amusing, & your letter[15] one of the best. It will appear in the Tribune I expect, as I showed it to Cortissoz[16]. The busy one is at work again, I hear. Now, be advised by me[.] Write no more letters to him or of him, as his only desire is to [p. 5] (3) advertise himself. His itch for writing is extraordinary. You may remember that I advised you not to write, but you would do it. It is really nothing to me in one way, only I hate to have you play into any body's hands for any such purpose. As I have often said "Why put yourself on a level with the hoi polloi[17] by having a difference with one of them?" Keep powder for better game.

I include myself in the lot of humble persons.

I asked Heinemann[18] if you would put some sort of mark on the Nicholson portrait[19] . If you do not like it, of course that's the end of the matter. It is not like you but [p. 6] there is a certain [diablerie?] about it. Then any portrait of Whistler is of interest to the public.

I am glad that you like the little book[20], which I had printed because I admired the Satire. It is uproarious, I think, and in Thackeray's best vein. I sent one to Mrs. Whibley[21] and hope she got it.

As to the decorations, I will write you fully by next post.

Who cares whether Whistler is decorated, or is a lord or a duke or even a King?

It is as a painter that he is known. Charles V.[22] said, "I can make lords and dukes but I cannot make a Titian[23]".

With kindest regards, I am as ever, at your Service

O'K. —

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Edward Guthrie Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more]. JW called him O'K.

2.  your letter
See JW to E. G. Kennedy, [28 October 1897], #09774.

3.  seriatim
Lat., in order, one at a time.

4.  Johnson
Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), lexicographer [more].

5.  Eden business
JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], over Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408) began in February 1894 when JW, dissatisfied with his work, refused to hand it over. Eden instituted legal proceedings against him but the case was not resolved until 1897. In December JW, on appeal, was allowed by the Cour de Cassation in Paris to keep the picture. See JW's 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.  London Sparrow
The Little London Sparrow (YMSM 477).

7.  duck
A North American duck; the back is actually ashy white crossed by broken zig zag dark lines; it makes good eating!

8.  Company of the Butterfly
The Company of the Butterfly was founded by JW in April 1897 in order to sell his works direct to the public. He acquired the lease of a shop at 2 Hinde Street, Manchester Square, as premises, and employed Mrs Christine Anderson as manager. However, it was not a success and lasted only from 1898 to 1901.

9.  (2)
This is Kennedy's page numbering. He also numbers p. 5 as '(3)'.

10.  four pictures
See Kennedy's note, dated 6 November (#07291).

11.  have
Double underlined.

12.  Boldini
Giovanni Boldini (1845-1931), portrait painter and etcher [more].

13.  mezzotint
This was a mezzotint by George McCulloch (d. 1915), landscape painter [more] (see JW to E. G. Kennedy, #09774).

14.  Watts
Probably George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), painter and sculptor [more].

15.  letter
See Whistler, James McNeill, 'Mr. Whistler's Character. Acquitted of Being Known at the Royal Academy,' The Daily Mail, 14 October 1897, p. 3. The letter concerned JW's amusement at receiving an envelope addressed to him at the Royal Academy. See also JW to the Daily Mail, #09263, and envelope, #13247.

16.  Cortissoz
Royal Cortissoz (1869-1948), author, art editor of the New York Herald Tribune [more].

17.  hoi polloi
Gr., ordinary people, the masses.

18.  Heinemann
William Heinemann (1863-1920), publisher [more].

19.  Nicholson portrait
Sir William Newzam Prior Nicholson (1872-1949), painter, poster designer [more]. JW had posed to him for a woodcut portrait.

20.  little book
Probably Reading a Poem, a play by William Makepeace Thackeray. Kennedy appears to have had an edition privately printed (the play was originally published serially in 1841). See Reading a Poem, New York, De Vinne Press, 1897. See #09774, and C. Whibley to E. G. Kennedy, #09775.

21.  Mrs. Whibley
Ethel Whibley (1861-1920), née Philip, JW's sister-in-law [more].

22.  Charles V.
Emperor Charles V (1500-1558), Holy Roman Emperor, Charles I of Spain.

23.  Titian
Tiziano ('Titian') Vecello or Vecellio (1485-1576), painter and engraver [more]. Titian painted Emperor Charles V in 1548.