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The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: portrait
Record 22 of 431

System Number: 08041
Date: [August 1872][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Henri Fantin-Latour[2]
Place: [Paris?]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 1/33/22
Document Type: ALS


'19[3]'

'Portrait de Whistler chez Avery[4] coupé du Toast[5] (salon de 1865)'

2 Lindsey Row.
Old Battersea bridge
Chelsea -

Cher Fantin

Impossible de t'écrire une lettre - il y a trop de choses a dire! - mais en attendant deux mots - pour te conseiller de vendre le tableau - Je ne connais nullement le monsieur à ce que je sache - tu ne me dis pas son nom - mais si c'est un Americain comme cela est probable, étant avec Lucas[6] ça ne peut que te faire du bien a New York et aux Etats Unis où l'on s'occupe beaucoup de la peinture maintenant -

Quant à moi rien ne pourrait être plus charmant pour moi que d'être presenté à mes Compatriotes par Fantin - Du reste tu sais que je suis tres flatté de ce que tu m'avais conservé en détruisant ton tableau - chose très à regretter tout de même que [p. 2] cette destructition démolition de nos anciennes choses! je l'ai bien trop souvent pratiqué! - et tant pleuré apres! Ne le fais jamais mon cher Fantin - Maintenant je voudrais bien savoir quel est le portrait de moi[7] que tu dis Valentin[8] a vendu à cet étranger? Veux tu bien tacher de le savoir - Je me demande si ce n'était qu'une pointe seche[9] que j'avais fait dans le temps et dont j'aurais peutêtre donné une épreuve à Valentin, ou bien si c'était la tête grandeur nature peinte, tu te la rappele que j'avais donné a Erneste[10] - En ce dernier cas Valentin n'avait nul droit de la vendre - cela appartenait à Erneste et à sa mort devrait me revenir - Taches donc de savoir ceci et fais moi le savoir je t'en prie - Si l'Americain ne t'achete pas ton portrait de moi je pourrais peutêtre te le faire vendre ici - je m'en occuperai - A tu [p. 3] rencontré un de mes amis - bon garçon nommé Morris[11] - ami de Galand[12] [sic] un peintre que tu connais probablement à Paris - j'aimerai tant voir ton grand tableau[13] du salon dernier dont j'ai beaucoup entendu parler - J'ai vu plusieurs nature mortes de toi toujours superbes - Pour te dire ce que je fais ça serait trop long -

Si j'ai fait des progrés c'est dans la science de la couleur que je crois avoir presque entièrement aprofondi et réduite à un système - Mais je me tourmente beaucoup - et je voudrais bien te causer - enfin à un de ces jours! - et esperons que cela sera bientôt - Le portrait de ma mère[14] je ferai photographier et je t'en enverrai une epreuve - Aussi je pense peutêtre envoyer la toile à Paris pour le Salon prochain -

[p. 4] Tu serrais bien gentil si tu voulais m'envoyer deux tubes de noir de pèche de chez Edouard[15]! j'aimerais bien l'essayer.

Adieu mon cher Fantin pour le moment - tout à toi

J A McN. Whistler


This document is protected by copyright.


Translation:

'Portrait of Whistler with Avery cut from Toast (salon of 1865)'

Dear Fantin

Impossible to write you a letter - there are too many things to say! - but in the meantime two words - to advise you to sell the picture - I do not know the gentleman at all as far as I know - you do not tell me his name - but if he is an American as is probable, being with Lucas, it can only do you a great deal of good in New York and in the United States where there is a great interest in painting now -

As for me nothing could be more charming for me than to be introduced to my Compatriots by Fantin - Besides you know that I am very flattered that you kept me when you destroyed the painting - it's much to be regretted all the same [p. 2] this demolition of our earlier works! I have done it too often! - and wept so much afterwards! Do not ever do it my dear Fantin - Now I would much like to know what is the portrait of me that you say Valentin has sold to this stranger? Please try to find out - I wonder if it was only a drypoint that I had done a long time ago and of which perhaps I gave a proof to Valentin, or if it was the life-size painting of a head, you remember that I gave to Erneste - In the latter case Valentin had no right to sell it - it belonged to Erneste and on his death should be returned to me - So try to find this out and let me know I beg you - If the American does not buy your portrait of me I could perhaps get it sold for you here - I shall take care of this - Have you [p. 3] met one of my friends - a good fellow called Morris - a friend of Galand [sic] a painter whom you probably know in Paris - I would so much like to see your large painting from the last salon which I have heard so much about - I have seen several of your still lifes superb as always - It would take too long to tell you what I am doing -

If I have made any progress it is in the science of colour which I believe I have analysed almost completely and reduced to a system - But I torture myself a lot - and I should like to talk with you - anyway, one of these days! - and let us hope that will be soon - I shall have the portrait of my mother photographed and I will send you a print - Also I am thinking perhaps of sending the canvas to Paris for the next Salon -

[p. 4] Would you very kindly send me two tubes of peach black from Edouard's! I should really like to try it out.

Goodbye for the moment my dear Fantin - ever yours

J A McN Whistler


Notes:

1.  [August 1872]
Dated from the reference to the sale of Portrait of Whistler with Hat (YMSM 23) (see below).

2.  Henri Fantin-Latour
Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), artist [more].

3.  19
Written in another hand.

4.  Avery
Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904), print-publisher, collector and philanthropist [more]. On 17 July 1872 he recorded: 'to Valentin bought oil portrait of Whistler & thirty five etchings, V was the master of W. dined at Lucas' (Beaufort, M. F., Kleinfield, H. L. and Welcher, J. K., (eds) The Diaries 1871-1882 of Samuel P. Avery, Art Dealer,, p. 115 (vol. I, p. 113).

5.  Toast
H. Fantin-Latour, Hommage à la Verité: Le Toast (FL.271) (z111), which was destroyed by the artist after being exhibited at 83rd exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1865.

6.  Lucas
George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), art dealer in Paris [more]. His diary for 17 July 1872 noted 'At Valentins - paid 1000 fs for Whistler etchings & picture' (Randall, Lillian, ed., George A. Lucas: An American Art Agent in Paris, 1857-1909, Princeton, 1979, p. 365).

7.  portrait de moi
Portrait of Whistler with Hat (YMSM 23).

8.  Valentin
Mme A. Valentin, wife of a restaurateur, and early friend of JW [more].

9.  pointe seche
Portrait of Whistler (K.54) dates from 1859.

10.  Erneste
Ernest Delannoy (d. 1860/1870), art student, JW's travel companion in 1858 [more]. The painting was sold at the Hôtel des Ventes, Paris, after Delannoy's death (see note by C. A. Howell, [GUL Whistler LB11], front cover).

11.  Morris
Probably Philip Richard Morris (1833 or 1836-1902), painter [more].

12.  Galand
Pierre-Victor Galland (1822-1892), painter and decorative artist [more].

13.  grand tableau
H. Fantin-Latour, Le coin de table (FL.577) (z147) (Musée d'Orsay) was exhibited at the 90th exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1872 , cat. no. 604.

14.  portrait de ma mère
Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101) had been exhibited at the 104th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1872, and, was sent, much later, to the 101st exhibition, Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris, 1883.

15.  Edouard
Possibly Edouard Manet (1832-1883), painter [more].