The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 3 of 25

System Number: 13428
Date: 5 August [1891][1]
Author: Harry Quilter[2]
Place: London
Recipient: Edward Tyas Cook[3]
Place: [London]
Repository: [Published][4]
Document Type: PLc


Will you kindly allow me to add my testimony to that of the Modern Velasquez[5] in the matter of a picture[6] by him, which he declares to be worthless "in its present state", but which, nevertheless, an enterprising firm (I think that is the correct "press" expression) are endeavouring to sell in Bond-street? I have the best reason to know that in this instance Mr Whistler's opinion is not only correct, but was formed many years ago; since, when on the occasion of his bankruptcy, about eleven years since, I bought his house in Tite-street[7], the work in question was one of a batch of clearly experimental canvases which he left after the sale upon the premises, and which I had, unless my memory deceives me, to request him to remove. The artist is quite right - if I may be permitted to say so - in resenting the public display, with a price attached "in the way of trade" of a fanciful sketch, which he did not consider sufficiently satisfactory to finish or exhibit; and it might be well if more artists would plainly express their opinion as to the permissibility of "enterprising firms" submitting for sale works of this character, which have presumably been purchased "for a song", as genuine specimens of the art produced by them.

Few people, I think, who have read the courteous remarks (made in the shape of letters to the society newspapers) of Mr Whistler on my critical work will believe that this testimony is unduly prejudiced in his favour. I write it simply as a matter of justice to an artist, who, whatever may be his deficiencies of temper and character, is at least too capable and sincere to exhibit for sale as satisfactory and creditable work which is on the face of it a "rejected essay".

I am, sir, yours faithfully,


21 Bryanston Square

August 5

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1.  5 August [1891]
Year dated from publication (see below).

2.  Harry Quilter
Henry ('Arry') Quilter (1851-1907), advocate and art critic [more].

3.  Edward Tyas Cook
Sir Edward Tyas Cook (1857-1919), journalist, editor of the Pall Mall Gazette from 1890-1892 [more].

4.  [Published]
Published as 'MR QUILTER IN SUPPORT OF MR WHISTLER', Pall Mall Gazette, 6 August 1891, p. 2.

5.  Modern Velasquez
From as early as 1860 paintings by JW, such as At the Piano (YMSM 24), had been compared to those of Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660), painter [more].

6.  picture
Pink and Grey: Three Figures (YMSM 89), an unfinished copy of the destroyed The Three Girls (YMSM 88). It was on sale at Messrs Dowdeswell.

7.  house in Tite-street
In June 1878 JW moved into the White House designed by E. W. Godwin for him as house and studio, but outstanding expenses contributed to his bankruptcy in May 1879. On 18 September 1879 the White House was auctioned and bought by Harry Quilter.