The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: auction
Record 21 of 25

System Number: 00795
Date: [1/8] August 1896[1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Editor, Daily Chronicle[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler D1
Document Type: ALdS

To the Editor of the Chronicle -

Sir -

Unmerited fame - an easy matter in this land of connoisseurs - has been within my grasp, and - I was not ready - for it[3] -

May I then, that virtue may come of it, be permitted to confess, in your columns, that the British masterpiece, the other day exhibited in Willis'[4] Rooms - catalogued as "A Portrait[5] of a lady, by J. M. Whistler" - and to which the gifted Artist had affixed my a flattering imitation of my mark in lieu of his own respectable name, is - alas! - not by me, but by one whose hard working hand is far more in touch with his people and their experienced Auctioneers[6] & discriminating Auctioneers - Indeed the work narrowly escaped the hammer, being withdrawn only at the last moment, under violent threat, and not at all willingly, by the [two illegible words] sanguine gentleman of the rostrum, who showed, in the spurious work, a tenacious and even dangerous interest, to which, it is humiliating to [p. 2] admit, originals, by the same reputed author, are not at all accustomed -

So profound was the impression made by this powerful painting upon the licensed expert and vendor, that he refused to give up the name and address of the owner, or of those who sent it to Willis' Rooms for sale. - w

The little episode may, in a way, perchance interest others - painters, collectors, frequenters - and [most others?][7]

And I have the honour to be,
Your obedient servt,

J. McNeill Whistler

London -

Aug. 1896.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Editor, Daily Chronicle
Daily Chronicle, a London daily newspaper. The letter does not appear to have been published.

2.  [1/8] August 1896
Dated by the reference to an auction (see below).

3.  Willis'
London auctioneers; the sale catalogue has not been located.

4.  for it
These words have been scrubbed off the page.

5.  Portrait
The Portrait of a Lady has not been identified. The sale by Robinson and Fisher took place on 30 July 1896, but an announcement that the picture was not by JW stopped the sale. See JW's letter to W. Webb, 28 July 1896, #06236, and a subsequent letter, #06237.

6.  Auctioneers
This word has been scrubbed off the page, as have two illegible words below.

7.  and [most others?]
These words have been scrubbed off the page.