The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: auction
Record 5 of 25

System Number: 06099
Date: 6 February 1893
Author: Thomas Way[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W96
Document Type: ALS[2]


Feby 6th 1893.

My dear Mr Whistler,

I am afraid that I can give you but little more information about the Sale[3] than that contained in the priced Catalogue sent with this. Sothebys' received the drawings through an Agent and the Owners name has been carefully witheld but this much I have learned, from gossip in the Sale Room, that they passed, through Dowdeswells'[4] hands, to a Mr H. S. Theobold[5] of Lincolns Inn, whose name you may perhaps recognize[.] [p. 2] They were mostly slight & struck me as being, "early studies" (such as the Mummy Cloth & Notes for Dress[6]) "unfinished sketches" or "schemes" for more complete works. As you will see, from the Catalogue, they were mostly bought by the Trade and I do think that had you been in the Room & heard the remarks about them, you would have treated with the contempt it deserved such vulgar rubbish as I regret to hear some paper has been guilty of about you. And is it quite fair, My dear Sir, to put these Fleet St litterateurs[7] as representatives of the English Nation? For my part I have been so much in the habit of [p. 3] finding confident assertions in a first Edition, contradicted in a second whilst the Art teaching of the most flourishing Papers is so constantly remarkable only for its ignorance that I have learned to trouble myself very little with their dicta.

I have little more to say except to thank you most heartily for the very gracious manner in which you were good enough to speak of me in your note[8]. Dull as I am, I cannot but feel that what little art knowledge I possess, is due to your kindly teaching and influence

Kindest regards from all of us to Mrs W[9] & yourself
faithfully yours

T. Way

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Thomas Way
Thomas Way (1837-1915), lithographic printer [more].

2.  ALS
Published by Spink, Nesta R., The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler, gen. eds Harriet K. Stratis and Martha Tedeschi, Chicago, 1998, vol. 2, p. 60, no. 41.

3.  Sale
Several drawings by JW were sold at auction at Sotheby's, London, 23 January 1893 (lots 113-130). They were bought by Robert Dunthorne, Marcus B. Huish of the Fine Art Society, E. F. J. Deprez of Deprez and Gutekunst, Mrs Noseda, a London print dealer, and Way (GUL SC 1893.2, annotated copy).

4.  Dowdeswells'
Print dealers and publishers.

5.  Mr H. S. Theobold
Henry Studdy Theobald (1847-1934), barrister and collector [more], owned many drawings, pastels, etchings, and oils by JW, most of which he had bought through Dowdeswells. JW visited him occasionally to see the collection and borrow pictures for exhibition; see Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 2, pp. 128-29. Eventually most of the collection was sold to Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more].

6.  Notes for dress
Studies for the Mummy Cloth & Notes for Dress (M.568).

7.  litterateurs
Fr., literary hack

8.  note
The relevant letter from JW to Way appears to be missing.

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