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Title: The Life of James McNeill Whistler
Author: Pennell, Joseph, Pennell, Elizabeth Robins
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Life of James McNeill Whistler" ***

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 Transcriber's Note:

 Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.
 Obvious punctuation errors and typos repaired.
 Footnotes moved to end of relevant chapters.
 Index of Illustrations adjusted to match HTML version.
 Two un-indexed illustrations, 'WHISTLER'S GRAVE IN CHISWICK
   CEMETERY ADJOINING CHISWICK CHURCHYARD' and 'MONUMENT IN
   WHISTLER'S MEMORY AT THE UNITED STATES MILITARY ACADEMY
   AT WEST POINT', added to the "List of Illustrations".
 In the original book the Illustrations are indexed as "Facing Page nnn".
   These have been changed to refer to the nearest page.



THE LIFE OF JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST
 _Fr._      (By Himself)]



 THE LIFE OF JAMES McNEILL WHISTLER

 BY

 E. R. AND J. PENNELL

 NEW AND REVISED EDITION THE SIXTH

 _ILLUSTRATED_

 PHILADELPHIA
 J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
 LONDON: WILLIAM HEINEMANN



_Printed in Great Britain_



PREFACE TO THE SIXTH EDITION


The Fifth Edition of our book was exhausted before war was declared,
and not until peace was declared was it thought by the publishers
advisable to issue this Sixth Edition, which has been revised and
brought up to date, and contains new material and new illustrations.
All the while we have been collecting and verifying documents, and all
the while we have received suggestions, facts, and inquiries. The book
has been published in French, but for the war it would have been long
since translated into other languages. During these years of needless,
senseless, useless horrors, the name and fame of Whistler have steadily
grown. His works have served as propaganda--what a comment!--even the
portrait of his mother has been used as a poster by the British, and
his own portrait has obtained the glory of appearing as a tribute to
the power of advertising. All the while, endless stories, most of them
garbled from this book, when not invented, have gone from end to end
of the world. Exhibitions of his paintings and prints and of documents
relating to him have been held. Galleries and private collectors have
acquired what little of his work was left to acquire. Even the National
Gallery of Great Britain has accepted three of his pictures from the
late Arthur Studd though Whistler had distinctly said that he did not
wish to be represented in any English gallery. Dealers have found in
his art inexhaustible attraction and asset for shows. Mr. Freer's
collection in the National Museum, Washington, is about to open. Our
collection is being installed in the Library of Congress, also in
Washington--though it was damaged by unpardonable and undiscoverable
carelessness in transit, caused by this cursed war. Washington must
soon be visited to see Whistler as Madrid is to see Velasquez. All the
while, too, the financial appreciation of Whistler--the standard by
which art and everything is judged to-day--has vastly increased, the
_Mrs. Leyland_ and _Lady Meux_ selling for more hundreds of thousands
than he asked hundreds of dollars for. His etchings and lithographs
have so improved in value in the collector's estimation that persons
whom Whistler did everything to help in forming their collections have
considered them too valuable to keep, and so have parted with them at
an enormous rise over even his "posthumous prices." What would he have
thought of all this, he who so carefully selected the prints "kindly
lent their owners?"

Whistler, fortunately, has escaped the indignity of commercial
popularity, but he has come into his own; his name and his fame are
world-wide, he is with the immortals; we said so in the beginning,
and time has proved us right. There have been no books of importance
issued about him of late years, though contemporary authors who spurned
him during his life now claim his acquaintance and add a paragraph
or a page, mostly from our book, as a bait to sell their own. Miss
Philip delays, or awaits the lapse of twenty years, before issuing the
letters. When she does print them--if properly edited--they will be a
great addition to the knowledge of Whistler. Mr. Freer announces also a
life which is to supersede or expose us, or Whistler. Still they tarry,
but anything they may issue will add to the success and, we trust,
the completeness of the authorized _Life of Whistler_. We should be
grateful for any further information, suggestions, or corrections to
that end from any of our readers.

We wish to thank, for the permission to reproduce paintings and
drawings, to consult letters and documents, Mrs. A. J. Cassatt, Mr.
Mitchell Kennerley, Mr. Roland Knvedler, Messrs. Keppel and Company,
Mr. George J. C. Grasberger, Mr. A. E. Gallatin, Mr. R. C. Frick, Mr.
West, Colonel Hughes, Mr. E. G. Kennedy, The Metropolitan Museum of New
York, The Maryland Institute, the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Putnam,
and Dr. Koch, Mr. Roberts, and Miss Wright, also of the Library of
Congress.

JOSEPH PENNELL

ELIZABETH ROBINS PENNELL

WASHINGTON, _July 4, 1919_



PUBLISHER'S NOTE TO THE FIFTH EDITION


Mr. and Mrs. Pennell's authorised _Life of James McNeill Whistler_
appeared in two volumes in October 1908, and has had to be reprinted in
that form three times since then. Its sale even in that comparatively
expensive form has been an unexpectedly large one, proving without
doubt that interest in Whistler's life is alive and growing. During
the three years since its first publication much new material has come
into the hands of the authors, and a complete revision of the book has
therefore become necessary. The present volume is, to all intents and
purposes, a new one. Many of the older illustrations in the earlier
editions have been superseded by new ones, a number of which are
reproduced for the first time.

For the new material included in this edition the authors and
the publisher are indebted to friends and numerous sympathetic
correspondents, and they wish to express their indebtedness
especially to Mr. John W. Beatty, Director of the Carnegie Institute
in Pittsburgh; Mr. E. D. Brooks; Mr. Clifford Gore Chambers; Mr. E.
T. Cook; Mr. Leon Dabo; Mr. Frederick Dielmann; Messrs. Dowdeswell;
M. Théodore Duret; Mr. A. J. Eddy; Mrs. Wickham Flower; Right Hon.
Jonathan Hogg; Mr. H. S. Hubbell; Mr. Will H. Low; Mr. Burton
Mansfield; Judge Parry; Mr. H. Reinhardt; Mr. H. S. Ridings; Mr. Albert
Rouiller; Miss Alice Rouiller; Mr. William Scott; M. Ströhlen; Mr. Ross
Turner; Mr. C. F. G. Turner; Mr. C. Howard Walker; Mr. J. H. Wrenn.



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE
  CHAPTER I. THE WHISTLER FAMILY.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN THIRTY-FOUR TO EIGHTEEN FORTY-THREE               1

    _Whistler's Ancestors--His Parents--Birth--Early Years_

  CHAPTER II. IN RUSSIA.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FORTY-THREE TO EIGHTEEN FORTY-NINE                6

    _Life in Russia--Schooldays--Begins his Art Studies in the
    Imperial Academy of Fine Arts--Death of Major Whistler--
    Return to America_

  CHAPTER III. SCHOOLDAYS IN POMFRET.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FORTY-NINE TO EIGHTEEN FIFTY-ONE                 18

    _The Pomfret School and Schoolmates--Early drawings_

  CHAPTER IV. WEST POINT.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN FIFTY-FOUR                 20

    _Whistler as Cadet in the U.S. Military Academy--
    His Studies--Failure--Stories told of him--His Estimate
    of West Point_

  CHAPTER V. THE COAST SURVEY.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-FOUR AND EIGHTEEN FIFTY-FIVE               27

    _Life in Washington--Obtains Position as Draughtsman in the
    U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey--First Plates--Resignation--
    Starts for Paris_

  CHAPTER VI. STUDENT DAYS IN THE LATIN QUARTER.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-FIVE TO EIGHTEEN FIFTY-NINE                33

    _Arrival in Paris--Enters as Student at Gleyre's--His
    Fellow Students--Adventures--Journey to Alsace_

  CHAPTER VII. WORKING DAYS IN THE LATIN QUARTER.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-FIVE TO EIGHTEEN FIFTY-NINE CONTINUED      46

    _His Studies--Work at the Louvre--Visit to Art Treasures
    Exhibition at Manchester--Etchings--Paintings--Rejection
    at the Salon and Exhibition in Bonvin's Studio_

  CHAPTER VIII. THE BEGINNINGS IN LONDON.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-NINE TO EIGHTEEN SIXTY-THREE               53

    _In London with the Hadens--First Appearance at Royal
    Academy--Kindness to French Fellow Students--Shares Studio
    with Du Maurier--Gaieties--Mr. Arthur Severn's Reminiscences
    --Work on the River--Jo--Etchings Published by Mr.
    Edmund Thomas_

  CHAPTER IX. THE BEGINNINGS IN LONDON.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-NINE TO EIGHTEEN SIXTY-THREE CONTINUED     63

    _Paintings and Exhibitions--The Music Room--Visits to Mr. and
    Mrs. Edwin Edwards--Summer in Brittany--"The White Girl"
    --Berners Street Gallery--Baudelaire on his Etchings--
    Illustrations--Salon des Refuses--First Gold Medal_

  CHAPTER X. CHELSEA DAYS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SIXTY-THREE TO EIGHTEEN SIXTY-SIX                76

    _Settles with his Mother at No. 7 Lindsey Row, Chelsea--
    The Greaves Family--The Limerston Street Studio and Mr. J. E.
    Christie--Rossetti--The Tudor House Circle, Swinburne,
    Meredith, Frederick Sandys, Howell--"Blue and White"--
    W. M. Rossetti's Reminiscences_

  CHAPTER XI. CHELSEA DAYS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SIXTY-THREE TO EIGHTEEN SIXTY-FOUR CONTINUED     86

    _The Japanese Pictures--"The Princesse du Pays de la
    Porcelaine"--Japanese Influence--"The Little White Girl"
    --Fantin's "Hommage à Delacroix"--"The Toast"--Arrival
    in London of Dr. Whistler--At Trouville with Courbet--
    Journey to Valparaiso_

  CHAPTER XII. CHELSEA DAYS CONTINUED.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SIXTY-SIX TO EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-TWO                97

    _Return to London--Removal to No. 2 Lindsey Row--The
    House and its Decorations--The 1867 Exhibition in Paris--
    Affair at the Burlington Fine Arts Club--"Symphony in White,
    No. III." the First Picture Exhibited as a Symphony--Theories
    --Development--Discouragement--Mr. Fred Jameson's
    Reminiscences--Decoration--Hamerton's "Etching and Etchers"
    --Etchings and Dry-points--Exhibitions--Rejection at the
    Royal Academy--First Exhibition of Picture as a Nocturne--
    Relations to the Royal Academy_

  CHAPTER XIII. NOCTURNES.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-TWO TO EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT           112

    _Nocturnes--Extent of Debt to Japanese--Methods and
    Materials--Subjects--Origin of Title--His Explanation
    in "The Gentle Art"_

  CHAPTER XIV. PORTRAITS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-FOUR            118

    _"The Mother"--"Carlyle"--"Miss Alexander"-Mr. and
    Mrs. Leyland--Mrs. Louis Huth--Show of his own Work in
    Pall Mall--Indignation roused by his Titles_

  CHAPTER XV. THE OPEN DOOR.
  THE YEAR EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-FOUR AND AFTER                           128

    _Whistler's Gaiety and Hospitality--His Amusement in
    Society--His Dinners and Sunday Breakfasts--Reminiscences
    of his Entertainments--His Talk--Clubs--Restaurants--
    The Theatre_

  CHAPTER XVI. THE PEACOCK ROOM.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-FOUR TO EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-SEVEN          143

    _Work at Exhibitions and in the Studio--Portrait of Irving
    --"Rosa Corder"--"The Fur Jacket"--"Connie Gilchrist"--
    The Peacock Room--Mr. Leyland's House in Prince's Gate--
    Its Decoration--Whistler's Scheme for the Dining-room and
    its Development--The Work Finished--Quarrel with Leyland_

  CHAPTER XVII. THE GROSVENOR GALLERY.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-SEVEN AND EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT        152

    _Sir Coutt Lindsay's New Gallery--First Exhibition at the
    Grosvenor--Whistler's Contributions--Ruskin's Criticism
    of "The Falling Rocket" in "Fors Clavigera"--Whistler
    sues him for Libel--Etchings--Lithographs--Drawings of
    Blue and White for Sir Henry Thompson's Catalogue--
    Caricatures--Sends a Second Time to the Grosvenor_

  CHAPTER XVIII.
  THE WHITE HOUSE. THE YEAR EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT                   159

    _Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878--Harmony in Yellow and
    Gold--Whistler as Decorator--Lady Archibald Campbell's
    Appreciation--Plan for Opening an Atelier for Students--
    No. 2 Lindsey Row given up--E. W. Godwin builds the White
    House for him--His Mother's Health--She leaves him for
    Hastings--Money Difficulties--Mezzotints of the "Carlyle"
    and "Rosa Corder"_

  CHAPTER XIX. THE TRIAL.
  THE YEAR EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT                                    166

    _Whistler's Reasons for the Action against Ruskin--His
    Position and Ruskin's compared--Refusal of Artists to support
    Whistler--Trial in the Exchequer Chamber, Westminster--
    Verdict--The General Criticism--Mr. T. Armstrong and Mr.
     Arthur Severn on the Trial--Collection to pay Ruskin's
    Expenses--Failure to raise one for Whistler--
    "Whistler v. Ruskin"_

  CHAPTER XX. BANKRUPTCY.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT AND EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-NINE         181

    _Whistler again at the Grosvenor--His Critics--His Financial
    Embarrassments--His Manner of meeting them--Declared Bankrupt
    --"The Gold Scab"--Commission from the Fine Art Society for
    the Venetian Etchings--Starts for Venice--The Sale of the
    White House--Sale of Blue and White, Pictures, Prints, &c.,
    at Sotheby's_

  CHAPTER XXI. VENICE.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-NINE AND EIGHTEEN-EIGHTY                189

    _Whistler's Arrival in Venice--First Impressions--
    Disappointments and Difficulties--His Friends in Venice and
    their Memories of him--Duveneck and his "Boys"--Whistler's
    Hard Work--His Lodgings and Restaurants--The Cafés--Stories
    told of him--Reminiscences of Mr. Harper Pennington and
    Mr. Ralph Curtis_

  CHAPTER XXII. VENICE.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-NINE AND EIGHTEEN EIGHTY CONTINUED      196

    _His Work in Venice--Pastels and his Methods--Etchings--
    Printing--Japanese Method of Drawing--Water-colours and
    Paintings_

  CHAPTER XXIII. BACK IN LONDON.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY AND EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-ONE                  202

    _Return to London and Sudden Appearance at Fine Art Society's--
    Prints Venice Plates--Exhibition of "The Twelve" at the Fine Art
    Society's--Exhibition of Venice Pastels--Decoration of Gallery--
    Bewilderment of Critics and Public--Death of his Mother--"The
    Piper Papers"--The Portrait of his Mother exhibited in
    Philadelphia--Etchings begin to be shown in America_

  CHAPTER XXIV. THE JOY OF LIFE.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-FOUR              210

    _Takes a Studio at No. 13 Tite Street--His "Joyousness"--
    Letters to the Press--His "Amazing" Costumes--Portrait of
    Lady Meux--His Other Sitters--Mrs. Marzetti's Account of the
    Painting of "The Blue Girl"--Lady Archibald Campbell's
     Reminiscences of the Sittings for her Portrait--Portrait of
    M. Duret--"The Paddon Papers"--Second Exhibition of Venice
    Etchings at the Fine Art Society's--Excitement it created--
    The "Carlyle" at Edinburgh--Proposal to buy it for Scottish
    National Portrait Gallery--Comes to nothing--Whistler involved
    in a Church Congress_

  CHAPTER XXV. AMONG FRIENDS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-SEVEN             222

    _Joseph Pennell meets Whistler--First Impressions--The
    "Sarasate"--Sir Seymour Haden_

  CHAPTER XXVI. AMONG FRIENDS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-SEVEN CONTINUED   225

    _Whistler's Friends in Tite Street--Sir Rennell Rodd's
    Reminiscences--Oscar Wilde--Reasons for the Friendship and for
    its short Duration--The Followers--Their Devotion and their
    Absurdities--Mr. Harper Pennington's Reminiscences of Whistler
    in London_

  CHAPTER XXVII. THE STUDIO IN THE FULHAM ROAD.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-FIVE TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-SEVEN            233

    _Whistler moves to the Fulham Road--Description of the new
    Studio--Pictures in Progress--Mr. William M. Chase, his
    Portrait and his Reminiscences--Plans to visit America_

  CHAPTER XXVIII. THE "TEN O'CLOCK."
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-FOUR TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT            239

    _Whistler writes the "Ten O'Clock"--Proposes to publish it as
    Article--Then to deliver it as Lecture in Ireland--Exhibition
    of his Work in Dublin--Arranges with Mrs. D'Oyly Carte for
    Lecture in London--The "Ten O'Clock" given at Prince's Hall--
    The Audience--The Critics--Analysis of the "Ten O'Clock"--Its
    Delivery in Other Places--Its Publication--Swinburne's Criticism_

  CHAPTER XXIX. THE BRITISH ARTISTS.
  THE RISE. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-FOUR TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-SIX    250

    _Approached by the British Artists--Elected a Member of the
    Society--His Position as Artist at this Period and the Position
    of the Society--Reasons for the Invitation and his Acceptance--
    His Interest in the Society--His Contributions to its
    Exhibitions--The Graham Sale--Publication of Twenty-Six Etchings
    by Dowdeswell's--Exhibition of Notes, Harmonies, Nocturnes, at
    Dowdeswell's--Elected President of the British Artists_

  CHAPTER XXX. THE BRITISH ARTISTS.
  THE FALL. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-SIX TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT   262

    _Whistler as President--His Decoration of the Gallery and
    Hanging of Pictures--Indignation by Members--Visit of the
    Prince of Wales--Growing Dissatisfaction in the Society--Jubilee
    of Queen Victoria--Whistler's Congratulatory Address--British
    Artists made a Royal Society--Dissatisfaction becomes Open
    Warfare--The Crisis--Wyke Bayliss elected President--
    Whistler's Resignation_

  CHAPTER XXXI. MARRIAGE.
  THE YEAR EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT                                     271

    _Whistler's Wedding--Reception at the Tower House--His Wife--
    His Devotion--Influence of Marriage_

  CHAPTER XXXII.
  THE WORK OF THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY TO EIGHTEEN NINETY-TWO       274

    _Water-colours--Etchings, Belgian and Dutch--Exhibition of
    Dutch Etchings--Lithographs_

  CHAPTER XXXIII. HONOURS. EXHIBITIONS. NEW INTERESTS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-NINE TO EIGHTEEN NINETY-ONE              279

    _Honours from Paris, Munich, and Amsterdam--Dinner to Whistler
    --Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889--Exhibition of Whistler's
    Work in Queen Square--Moves to No. 21 Cheyne Walk--M. Harry's
    Impressions of the House--Portrait of the Comte de Montesquiou
    --W. E. Henley and "National Observer"--New Friends_

  CHAPTER XXXIV. "THE GENTLE ART."
  THE YEAR EIGHTEEN NINETY                                           288

    _Whistler Collects his Letters and Writings--Work begun by
    Mr. Sheridan Ford--Mr. J. McLure Hamilton's Account--Action at
    Antwerp to suppress Ford's Edition--Mr. Heinemann publishes
    "The Gentle Art" for Whistler--Summary of the Book--Period of
    unimportant Quarrels_

  CHAPTER XXXV. THE TURN OF THE TIDE.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-ONE AND EIGHTEEN NINETY-TWO              298

    _The "Carlyle" bought by the Glasgow Corporation--"The Mother"
    bought for the Luxembourg--The Exhibition at the Goupil Gallery
    --Mr. D. Croal Thomson's Account--Success of the Exhibition--
    The Catalogue--Commissions--Demand for his Pictures--Mr. H. S.
    Theobald's Reminiscences--Whistler's Indignation at Sale of
    Early Pictures by Old Friends--Invited
    to show in Chicago Exhibition--Not known at R.A.--Decorations
    for Boston Public Library_

  CHAPTER XXXVI. PARIS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-TWO AND EIGHTEEN NINETY-THREE            310

    _Whistler goes to Paris to live--Joseph Pennell with him there
    in 1892 and 1893--Lithographs--Colour work--Studio in Rue
    Notre-Dame-des-Champs--Apartment in the Rue du Bac--Etchings
    printed--Afternoons in the Garden--Day at Fontainebleau--
    Wills signed--Mr. E. G. Kennedy's Portrait--Rioting in the
    Latin Quarter_

  CHAPTER XXXVII. PARIS CONTINUED.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-THREE AND EIGHTEEN NINETY-FOUR           320

    _Whistler's Friends in Paris--Mr. MacMonnies', Mr. Walter
     Gay's, and Mr. Alexander Harrison's Reminiscences--
    Mr. A. J. Eddy's Portrait--Portraits of Women begun_

  CHAPTER XXXVIII. TRIALS AND GRIEFS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-FOUR TO EIGHTEEN NINETY-SIX              327

    _Du Maurier's "Trilby"--Apology--Mrs. Whistler's Illness--
    The Eden Trial--Whistler Challenges George Moore--In Lyme
    Regis and London--Portraits in Lithography--Mr. S. R. Crockett's
    Account of the Sittings for his Portrait--Mrs. Whistler's
    Death--New Will_

  CHAPTER XXXIX. ALONE.
  THE YEAR EIGHTEEN NINETY-SIX                                       336

    _Work and Little Journeys--Mr. E. G. Kennedy's Reminiscences--
    Evenings with Whistler--Visit to the National Gallery--
    Whistler goes to live with Mr. Heinemann at Whitehall Court--
    Mr. Henry Savage Landor--Mr. Edmund Heinemann--Eden Affair--
    Last Meeting with Sir Seymour Haden--Christmas at Bournemouth_

  CHAPTER XL. THE LITHOGRAPH CASE.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-SIX AND EIGHTEEN NINETY-SEVEN            346

    _Mr. Walter Sickert's Article in "Saturday Review"--Joseph
    Pennell sues him for Libel--Whistler the Principal Witness--
    In the Witness-box under Cross-examination--Verdict--
    Whistler's Pleasure_

  CHAPTER XLI. THE END OF THE EDEN CASE.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-SEVEN TO EIGHTEEN NINETY-NINE            350

    _M. Boldini's Portrait of Whistler--In London--Visits to
    Hampton--Journey to Dieppe--The Eden Case in the Cour de
    Cassation--Whistler's Triumph--"The Baronet and the Butterfly"
    --The Whistler Syndicate: Company of the Butterfly_

  CHAPTER XLII. BETWEEN LONDON AND PARIS.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-SEVEN TO NINETEEN HUNDRED                357

    _Illness in Paris--Fever of Work--Portrait of Mr. George
    Vanderbilt--Other Portraits and Models--Pictures of Children--
    Nudes--Pastels--Spanish War--Journey to Italy--"Best Man" at
    Mr. Heinemann's Wedding--Impressions of Rome--Mr. Kerr-Lawson's
    Account of his Stay in Florence--Winter in Paris--Loneliness--
    Meetings with old Student Friends--Dr. Whistler's Death--Dinner
    at Mr. Heinemann's--Mr. Arthur Symon's Impressions of Whistler_

  CHAPTER XLIII. THE INTERNATIONAL.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-SEVEN TO NINETEEN HUNDRED AND THREE      369

    _The International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers--
    Whistler elected First President--Activity of his Interest--
    First Exhibition at Knightsbridge--Second Exhibition--
    Difficulties--Third Exhibition at the Royal Institute--
    Exhibitions on the Continent and in America--Whistler's
    Presidency ends only with Death_

  CHAPTER XLIV. THE ACADÉMIE CARMEN.
  THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-EIGHT TO NINETEEN HUNDRED AND ONE        377

    _School opened in the Passage Stanislas, Paris--Whistler and
    Mr. Frederick MacMonnies propose to visit it--History of the
    School written, at Whistler's request, by Mrs. Clifford Addams
    --Her Account--His Methods--His Advice--His Palette--
    Misunderstandings--Mrs. Addam apprenticed to Whistler--Men's
    Class discontinued--Third Year begins with Woman's Class alone
    --School closed--Mr. Clifford Addams made an Apprentice--
    Mr. MacMonnies' Account--Comparison with Other Art Schools_

  CHAPTER XLV. THE BEGINNING OF THE END.
  THE YEAR NINETEEN HUNDRED                                          393

    _Whistler authorises J. and E. R. Pennell to write his Life
    and Mr. Heinemann to publish it--Whistler gives his
    Reminiscences--Photographing began in Studio--Paris Universal
    Exhibition--Interest in the Boer War--The "Island" and the
    "Islanders"--The Pekin Massacre and Blue Pots--Domberg--Visit
    to Ireland--Sir Walter Armstrong's Reminiscences of Whistler
    in Dublin--Irritation with Critics of his Pictures in Paris--
    Increasing Ill-health in the Autumn--Serious Illness--Starts
    for the South_

  CHAPTER XLVI. IN SEARCH OF HEALTH.
  THE YEARS NINETEEN HUNDRED AND ONE AND NINETEEN HUNDRED AND TWO    407

    _Tangier--Algiers--Marseilles--Ajaccio--Winter in Corsica--
    Visit from Mr. Heinemann--Dominoes--Rests for the First Time--
    Return to London in the Spring--Work in the Summer--Illness in
    the Autumn--Bath--No. 74 Cheyne Walk--Annoyances--Journey to
    Holland--Dangerous Illness in The Hague--Mr. G. Sauter's Account
    of his Last Visit to Franz Hals at Haarlem_

  CHAPTER XLVII. THE END.
  THE YEARS NINETEEN HUNDRED AND TWO AND NINETEEN HUNDRED AND THREE  423

    _Return to No. 74 Cheyne Walk--Illness--Gradual Decline--Work--
    Portraits--Prints--Exhibition of Silver--Degree of LL.D. from
    Glasgow University--St. Louis Exposition--Worries--Last Weeks--
    Death--Funeral--Grave_

  APPENDIX                                                           437

  INDEX                                                              439



  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

       _G., after an etching, refers to the Grolier Club Catalogue of
       Whistler's Etchings, 1910_

       _W., after a lithograph, refers to Mr. T. R. Way's Catalogue of
       Whistler's Lithographs, 1905_

                                                                    Page

  PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST (_By Himself_) (_Oil_)            _Frontispiece_
    In the George McCulloch Collection

  PORTRAIT OF WHISTLER AS A BOY (_By Sir William Boxall_) (_Oil_)     12
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  THE TWO BROTHERS (_Miniature_)                                      12
    Lent by Miss Emma Palmer; formerly in the possession of
    Mrs. George D. Stanton and Miss Emma W. Palmer

  BIBI LALOUETTE (_Etching. G. 51_)                                   20

  STREET AT SAVERNE (_Etching. G. 19_)                                20
    From the "French Set"

  LA MÈRE GÉRARD (_Oil_)                                              24
    In the possession of William Heinemann

  HEAD OF AN OLD MAN SMOKING (_Oil_)                                  24
    In the Musée du Luxembourg

  PORTRAIT OF WHISTLER (_Etching. G. 54_)                             40

  SKETCHES OF THE JOURNEY TO ALSACE (_Pen Drawings_)                  40

  PORTRAIT OF WHISTLER IN THE BIG HAT (_Oil_)                         44
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  DROUET (_Etching. G. 55_)                                           44

  AT THE PIANO (_Oil_)                                                52
    In the possession of Edmund Davis, Esq.

  WAPPING (_Oil_)                                                     52
    In the possession of Mrs. Hutton

  THE THAMES IN ICE, THE TWENTY-FIFTH OF DECEMBER 1860 (_Oil_)        60
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  ROTHERHITHE (_Etching. G. 66_)                                      60
    From the "Sixteen Etchings"

  THE MUSIC ROOM--HARMONY IN GREEN AND ROSE (_Oil_)                   68
    In the possession of Colonel F. Hecker

  ANNIE HADEN (_Dry-Point. G. 62_)                                    68

  THE WHITE GIRL--SYMPHONY IN WHITE, NO. I. (_Oil_)                   76
    In the possession of J. H. Whittemore, Esq.

  JO (_Dry-Point. G. 77_)                                             76

  THE BLUE WAVE (_Oil_)                                               84
    In the possession of A. A. Pope, Esq.

  THE FORGE (_Dry-Point. G. 68_)                                      84
    From the "Sixteen Etchings"

  THE MORNING BEFORE THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW                  92
    (_Wood-Engraving from "Once a Week," vol vii. p. 210_)

  THE LAST OF OLD WESTMINSTER (_Oil_)                                 92
    In the possession of A. A. Pope, Esq.

  PORTRAIT OF WHISTLER (_By Himself_) (_Chalk Drawing_)              104
    Formerly in the possession of Thomas Way, Esq.

  WEARY (_Dry-Point. G. 92_)                                         104
    STUDY IN CHALK FOR THE SAME
    Formerly in the possession of B. B. MacGeorge, Esq.

  THE LANGE LEIZEN OF THE SIX MARKS--PURPLE AND ROSE (_Oil_)         108
    In the J. G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia

  THE BALCONY--HARMONY IN FLESH-COLOUR AND GREEN (_Oil_)             108
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  LA PRINCESSE DU PAYS DE LA PORCELAINE--ROSE AND SILVER (_Oil_)     112
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  VARIATIONS IN VIOLET AND GREEN (_Oil_)                             112
    In the possession of Sir Charles McLaren, Bart.

  THE LITTLE WHITE GIRL--SYMPHONY IN WHITE, NO. II. (_Oil_)          124
    In the National Gallery, London

  PORTRAIT OF DR. WHISTLER (_Oil_)                                   124
    In the possession of Burton Mansfield, Esq.

  VALPARAISO BAY--NOCTURNE: BLUE AND GOLD (_Oil_)                    132
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  SYMPHONY IN WHITE, NO. III. (_Oil_)                                132
    In the possession of Edmund Davis, Esq.

  WHISTLER'S TABLE PALETTE (_Photograph_)                            144
    In the possession of Mrs. Newmarch

  SEA BEACH WITH FIGURES (_Study for the Six Projects_) (_Pastel_)   144

  THE THREE FIGURES--PINK AND GREY (_Oil_)                           144
    In the possession of Alfred Chapman, Esq.

  NOCTURNE--BLUE AND GREEN (_Oil_)                                   148
    In the National Gallery, London

  NOCTURNE--BLUE AND SILVER (_Oil_)                                  148
    In the possession of the Executors of Mrs. F. R. Leyland

  THE MOTHER--ARRANGEMENT IN GREY AND BLACK (_Oil_)                  160
    In the Musée du Luxembourg

  PORTRAIT OF THOMAS CARLYLE--ARRANGEMENT IN GREY AND BLACK,
  NO II. (_Oil_)                                                     160
    In the Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow

  PORTRAIT OF CICELY HENRIETTA, MISS ALEXANDER--HARMONY IN GREY
  AND GREEN (_Oil_)                                                  164
    In the National Gallery, London

  PORTRAIT OF F. R. LEYLAND--ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK (_Oil_)            164
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  PORTRAIT OF MRS. F. R. LEYLAND--SYMPHONY IN FLESH-COLOUR AND
  PINK (_Oil_)                                                       172
    In the possession of H. C. Finck, Esq.

  PORTRAIT OF MISS LEYLAND (_Pastel_)                                172
    In the possession of the Executors of Mrs. F. R. Leyland

  PORTRAIT OF MRS. LOUIS HUTH--ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK, NO. II. (_Oil_) 180
    In the possession of the Executors of the Family

  FANNY LEYLAND (_Study for the Etching. G. 108_) (_Pencil Sketch_)  180
  Formerly in the possession of J. H. Wrenn, Esq.

  WHISTLER IN HIS STUDIO (_Oil_)                                     196
    In the Chicago Art Institute

  MAUD STANDING (_Etching. G. 114_)                                  196

  PORTRAIT OF SIR HENRY IRVING AS PHILIP II. OF
  SPAIN--ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK, NO. III. (_Oil_)                      200
    In the Metropolitan Museum, New York

  PORTRAIT OF SIR HENRY COLE (_Oil_) (_Destroyed_)                   200
    From a photograph lent by Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

  PORTRAIT OF MISS ROSA CORDER--ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK AND BROWN       208
  (_Oil_)
    In the possession of H. C. Finck, Esq.

  THE PEACOCK ROOM (_Photograph_)                                    208
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  DRAWING IN WASH FOR "A CATALOGUE OF BLUE AND WHITE NANKIN
  PORCELAIN, FORMING THE COLLECTION OF SIR HENRY THOMPSON."
  LONDON: ELLIS AND WHITE. 1878                                      216
    In the possession of Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

  STUDY (_Lithotint. W. 2_)                                          216
    From a print lent by T. R. Way, Esq.

  TALL BRIDGE (_Lithograph. W. 9_)                                   224
    From a print lent by T. R. Way, Esq.

  NOCTURNE (_Lithotint. W. 5_)                                       224
    From "Notes" published by Goupil
    From a print lent by T. R. Way, Esq.

  OLD BATTERSEA BRIDGE--NOCTURNE IN BLUE AND GOLD (_Oil_)            232
    In the National Gallery of British Art, Tate Gallery

  THE FALLING ROCKET--NOCTURNE IN BLACK AND GOLD (_Oil_)             232
    In the possession of Mrs. S. Untermeyer

  THE BRIDGE (_Etching. G. 204_)                                     244
    From the "Second Venice Set"
    By the permission of Messrs. Dowdeswell

  THE DOORWAY (_Etching. G. 188_)                                    244
    From the "First Venice Set"
    By the permission of the Fine Art Society

  THE BEGGARS (_Etching. G. 194_)                                    252
    From the "First Venice Set"
    By permission of the Fine Art Society

  THE RIALTO (_Etching. G. 211_)                                     252
    From the "Second Venice Set"
    By the permission of Messrs. Dowdeswell

  PORTRAITS OF MAUD (_Oil_) (_Destroyed_)                            258
    From photographs lent by Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

  JUBILEE MEMORIAL FROM THE SOCIETY OF BRITISH ARTISTS TO QUEEN
  VICTORIA, 1887 (_Illumination_)                                    258
    In the Royal Collection at Windsor

  PORTRAIT OF LADY MEUX--HARMONY IN PINK AND GREY (_Oil_)            268
    In the possession of H. C. Finck, Esq.

  THE SALUTE, VENICE (_Water-Colour_)                                268
    In the possession of B. B. MacGeorge, Esq.

  THE YELLOW BUSKIN--ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK (_Oil_)                    276
    In the Wilstach Collection, Memorial Hall, Philadelphia

  PORTRAIT OF M. THÉODORE DURET--ARRANGEMENT IN FLESH-COLOUR AND
  PINK (_Oil_)                                                       276
    In the Metropolitan Museum, New York

  PORTRAIT OF PABLO SARASATE--ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK (_Oil_)           304
    In the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh

  PORTRAIT OF LADY COLIN CAMPBELL--HARMONY IN WHITE AND IVORY
    (_Oil_) (_Destroyed_)                                            304
    From a photograph lent by Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

  ANNABEL LEE (_Pastel_)                                             312
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  THE CONVALESCENT (_Water-Colour_)                                  312
    In the possession of Dr. J. W. MacIntyre

  PORTRAIT OF MISS KINSELLA--THE IRIS, ROSE AND GREEN (_Oil_)        328
    In the possession of Miss Kinsella

  WHISTLER AT HIS PRINTING PRESS IN THE STUDIO,
  RUE NOTRE-DAME-DES-CHAMPS, PARIS                                   328
    From a photograph by M. Dornac

  ILLUSTRATION TO LITTLE JOHANNES                                    336

  PORTRAIT OF A LADY (_Drawings on Wood_)
    In the Pennell Collection, Library of Congress, Washington

  WATER-COLOUR LANDSCAPE                                             336
    Loaned by Mrs. Mortimer Menpes

  THE MASTER SMITH OF LYME REGIS (_Oil_)                             340
    In the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

  THE SMITH, PASSAGE DU DRAGON (_Lithograph. W. 73_)                 340

  PORTRAIT OF MRS. A. J. CASSATT                                     344

  THE BEACH (_Water-Colour_)                                         344
    In the possession of Mrs. Knowles

  SHOP WINDOW AT DIEPPE (_Water-Colour_)                             344

  THE THAMES (_Lithotint. W. 125_)                                   348

  FIRELIGHT--JOSEPH PENNELL, NO. I. (_Lithograph. W. 104_)           348
    From "Lithography and Lithographers"
    By the permission of T. Fisher Unwin, Esq.

  STUDY IN BROWN (_Oil_)                                             356
    In the possession of the Baroness de Meyer

  STUDY OF THE NUDE (_Pen Drawing_)                                  356
    In the possession of William Heinemann, Esq.

  THE LITTLE BLUE BONNET--BLUE AND CORAL (_Oil_)
    Formerly in the possession of Wm. Heinemann, Esq.                360

  ROSE AND GOLD--LITTLE LADY SOPHIE OF SOHO (_Oil_)                  360
    In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of
    American Art

  MODEL WITH FLOWERS (_Pastel_)                                      368
    In the possession of J. P. Heseltine, Esq.

  GIRL WITH A RED FEATHER (_Oil_)                                    368
    In the possession of the Executors of J. Staats Forbes

  A FRESHENING BREEZE (_Oil_)                                        376
    In the possession of J. S. Ure, Esq.

  LILLIE IN OUR ALLEY--BROWN AND GOLD (_Oil_)                        376
    In the possession of J. J. Cowan, Esq.

  THE SEA, POURVILLE (_Oil_)                                         388
    In the possession of A. A. Hannay, Esq.

  THE COAST OF BRITTANY--ALONE WITH THE TIDE (_Oil_)                 388
    Formerly in the possession of Ross Winans, Esq.

  THE FUR JACKET--ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK AND BROWN (_Oil_)             388
    _Picture in Progress:_
    From a photograph lent by Pickford R. Waller, Esq.
    _Completed Picture:_
    In the Worcester Museum, Massachusetts

  PORTRAIT OF MRS. WALTER SICKERT                                    404
    In the possession of Mrs. Cobden-Sanderson

  PORTRAIT OF MISS WOAKES                                            404
    In the possession of Messrs. Knvedler and Co.

  THE CHELSEA GIRL                                                   416

  PORTRAIT OF E. S. KENNEDY                                          416
    In the Metropolitan Museum, New York

  GALLERY AT THE LONDON MEMORIAL EXHIBITION                          428

  GALLERY AT THE BOSTON MEMORIAL EXHIBITION                          428

  WHISTLER'S GRAVE IN CHISWICK CEMETERY ADJOINING
    CHISWICK CHURCHYARD                                              428

  MONUMENT IN WHISTLER'S MEMORY AT THE UNITED STATES MILITARY
    ACADEMY AT WEST POINT                                            428



CHAPTER I: THE WHISTLER FAMILY. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN THIRTY-FOUR TO
EIGHTEEN FORTY-THREE.


James Abbott McNeill Whistler was born on July 10, 1834, at Lowell,
Massachusetts, in the United States of America.

Whistler, in the witness-box during the suit he brought against Ruskin
in 1878, gave St. Petersburg as his birthplace--or the reporters
did--and he never denied it. Baltimore was given by M. Théodore Duret
in the _Gazette des Beaux-Arts_ (April 1881), and M. Duret's mistake,
since corrected by him, has been many times repeated. The late Mrs.
Livermore, who knew Whistler as a child at Lowell, asked him why he
did not contradict this. His answer was: "If any one likes to think I
was born in Baltimore, why should I deny it? It is of no consequence
to me!" On entering West Point he stated that Massachusetts was his
place of birth. But, as a rule, he met any one indiscreet enough to
question him on the subject as he did the American who came up to him
one evening in the Carlton Hotel, London, and by way of introduction
said, "You know, Mr. Whistler, we were both born at Lowell, and at very
much the same time. There is only the difference of a year--you are
sixty-seven and I am sixty-eight." "And I told him," said Whistler,
from whom we had the story the next day, "'Very charming! And so you
are sixty-eight and were born at Lowell! Most interesting, no doubt,
and as you please! But I shall be born when and where I want, and I do
not choose to be born at Lowell, and I refuse to be sixty-seven!'"

Whistler was christened at St. Anne's Church, Lowell, November 9, 1834.
"Baptized, James Abbott, infant son of George Washington and Anna
Mathilda Whistler: Sponsors, the parents. Signed, T. Edson"; so it is
recorded in the church register. He was named after James Abbott, of
Detroit, who had married his father's elder sister, Sarah Whistler.
McNeill (his mother's name) was added shortly after he entered West
Point. Abbott he always kept for legal and official documents. But,
eventually, he dropped it for other purposes, "J. A. M." pleasing
him no better than "J. A. W.," and he signed himself "James McNeill
Whistler" or "J. M. N. Whistler."

The Rev. Rose Fuller Whistler, in his _Annals of an English Family_
(1887), says that John le Wistler de Westhannye (1272-1307) was
the founder of the family. Most of the Whistlers lived in Goring,
Whitchurch, or Oxford, and are buried in many a church and churchyard
of the Thames Valley. Brasses and tablets to the memory of several are
in the church of St. Mary at Goring: one to "Hugh Whistler, the son of
Master John Whistler of Goring, who departed this life the 17 Day of
Januarie Anno Dominie 1675 being aged 216 years"--an amazing statement,
but there it is in the parish church durable as brass can make it, and
it would have delighted Whistler. The solemn antiquary, however, has
decided that the 21 is only a badly cut 4. This remarkable ancestor
figures as a family ghost at Gatehampton, where he is said to have been
buried with his money, and there he still walks, guarding the treasure
he lived so many years to gather. The position of the Whistlers
entitled them to a coat of arms, described in the Harleian MSS., No.
1556, and thus in _Gwillim's Heraldry_: "Gules, five mascles, in bend
between two Talbots passant argent"; and the motto "Forward."

The men were mostly soldiers and parsons. A few made names for
themselves. The shield of Gabriel Whistler, of Combe, Sussex, is one of
six in King's College Chapel, Cambridge. Anthony Whistler, poet, friend
of Shenstone, belonged to the Whitchurch family. Dr. Daniel Whistler
(1619-1684), of the Essex branch, was a Fellow of Merton, an original
Fellow of the Royal Society, a member and afterwards President of the
College of Physicians, friend of Evelyn and Pepys. Evelyn often met
him in "select companie" at supper, and once "Din'd at Dr. Whistler's
at the Physicians Colledge," and found him not only learned but "the
most facetious man in nature," the legitimate ancestor of Whistler.
Pepys, who also dined and supped with him many times, pronounced him
"good company and a very ingenious man." He fell under a cloud with
the officials of the College of Physicians, and his portrait has
been consigned to a back stairway of the Hall in Pall Mall. In the
seventeenth century Ralph Whistler, of the Salters' Company, London,
was one of the colonisers of Ulster, and Francis Whistler was a settler
of Virginia. When Whistler saw the name "Francis Whistler, Gentleman,"
in the _Genesis of the United States_, he said to us, "There is an
ancestor, with the hall-mark F.F.V. [First Families of Virginia], who
tickles my American snobbery, and washes out the taint of Lowell."

The American Whistlers are descended from John Whistler of the Irish
branch. In his youth he ran away and enlisted. Sir Kensington Whistler,
an English cousin, was an officer in the same regiment, and objected
to having a relative in the ranks. John Whistler, therefore, was
transferred to another regiment starting for the American colonies.
He arrived in time to surrender at Saratoga with Burgoyne. He went
back to England, received his discharge, eloped with Anna, daughter
of Sir Edward Bishop or Bischopp, and, returning to America, settled
at Hagerstown, Maryland. He again enlisted, this time in the United
States army. He rose to the brevet rank of major and served in the
war of 1812 against Great Britain. He was stationed at Fort Dearborn,
which he helped to build, and Fort Wayne. According to Mr. A. J. Eddy
(_Recollections and Impressions of Whistler_), Whistler once said to a
visitor from Chicago:

"Chicago, dear me, what a wonderful place! I really ought to visit it
some day; for, you know, my grandfather founded the city, and my uncle
was the last commander of Fort Dearborn!"

In 1815, upon the reduction of the army, Major John Whistler was
retired. He died in 1817, at Bellefontaine, Missouri. Of his fifteen
children, three sons are remembered as soldiers, and three daughters
married army officers. George Washington, the most distinguished son,
was the father of James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

George Washington Whistler was born on May 19, 1800, at Fort Wayne.
He was educated mostly at Newport, Kentucky; and from Kentucky, when
a little over fourteen, he received his appointment to the Military
Academy, West Point, where he is remembered for his gaiety. Mr. George
L. Vose, his biographer, and others tell stories that might have been
told of his son. One is of some breach of discipline, for which he was
made to bestride a gun on the campus. As he sat there he saw, coming
towards him, the Miss Swift he was before long to marry. Out came his
handkerchief, and, leaning over the gun, he set to work cleaning it
so carefully that he was "honoured, not disgraced," in her eyes. He
was number one in drawing, and his playing on the flute won him the
nickname "Pipes." He graduated on July 1, 1819. He was appointed second
lieutenant in the First Artillery, and, in 1829, first lieutenant
in the Second Artillery. He served on topographical duty, and for a
few months he was assistant professor at the Academy. There was not
much fighting for American officers of his generation. But railroads
were being built, and so few were the civil engineers that West Point
graduates were allowed by Government to work for private corporations,
and he was employed on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, the Baltimore
and Susquehanna, and the Paterson and Hudson River. For the Baltimore
and Ohio he went to England in 1828 to examine the railway system. He
was building the line from Stonington to Providence, when, in 1833,
he resigned from the army with the rank of major, to carry on his
profession as a civil engineer.

In the meanwhile Major Whistler had married twice. His first wife
was Mary Swift, daughter of Dr. Foster Swift, of the United States
army. She left three children: George, who became a well known civil
engineer; Joseph, who died in youth; and Deborah, Lady Haden. His
second wife was Anna Mathilda McNeill, daughter of Dr. Charles Donald
McNeill, of Wilmington, North Carolina, and sister of William Gibbs
McNeill, a West Point classmate and an associate in Major Whistler's
engineering work. The McNeills were descended from the McNeills of
Skye. Their chief, Donald, emigrated with sixty of his clan to North
Carolina in 1746, and bought land on Cape Fear River. Charles Donald
McNeill was his grandson and was twice married; his second wife,
Martha Kingsley, was the mother of Anna Mathilda McNeill, who became
Mrs. George Washington Whistler. The McNeills were related by marriage
to the Fairfaxes and other Virginia families, and Whistler, on his
mother's side, was the Southerner he loved to call himself.

In 1834 Major Whistler accepted the post of engineer of locks and
canals at Lowell, and to this town he brought his family. There, in the
Paul Moody House on Worthen Street, James McNeill Whistler was born,
and the house is now a Whistler Memorial Museum. Two years later the
second son, William Gibbs McNeill, was born. In 1837 Major Whistler
moved to Stonington, Connecticut, and Miss Emma W. Palmer and Mrs. Dr.
Stanton, his wife's nieces, still remember his "pleasant house on Main
Street." It is said that he had a chaise fitted with car wheels in
which he and his family drove every Sunday on the tracks to church at
Westerly; also that a locomotive named Whistler was in use on the road
until recently. He was consulted in regard to many new lines, among
them the Western Railroad of Massachusetts, for which he was consulting
engineer from 1836 to 1840. In 1840 he was made chief engineer, and
he removed to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he lived in the Ethan
Chapin Homestead on Chestnut Street, north of Edward Street. A third
son, Kirk Booth, born at Stonington in 1838, died at Springfield in
1842, and here a fourth son, Charles Donald, was born in 1841.

In 1842 Nicholas I. of Russia sent a commission, under Colonel
Melnikoff, round Europe and America to find the best method and the
best man to build a railroad from St. Petersburg to Moscow, and they
chose the American, George Washington Whistler. The honour was great
and the salary large, 12,000 dollars a year. He accepted, and started
for Russia in Midsummer 1842, leaving his family at Stonington.

The life of a child, for the first nine years or so, is not of
much interest to any save his parents. An idea can be formed of
Whistler's early training. His father was a West Point man, with all
that is fine in the West Point tradition. Mrs. Whistler, described
as "one of the saints upon earth," was as strict as a Puritan. Dr.
Whistler--Willie--often told his wife of the dread with which he and
Jimmie looked forward to Saturday afternoon, with its overhauling of
clothes, emptying of pockets, washing of heads, putting away of toys,
and preparation for Sunday, when the Bible was the only book they read.
Of the facts of his childhood there are few to record. Mrs. Livermore
remembered his baby beauty, so great that her father used to say "it
was enough to make Sir Joshua Reynolds come out of his grave and paint
Jemmie asleep." In his younger years he was called Jimmie, Jemmie,
Jamie, James, and Jim, and we use these names as we have found them
in the letters written to us and the books quoted. Mrs. Livermore
dwelt on the child's beautiful hands, "which belong to so many of the
Whistlers." When she returned to Lowell in 1836 from the Manor School
at York, England, Mrs. Whistler's son, Willie, had just been born:

"As soon as Mrs. Whistler was strong enough, she sent for me to go and
see her boy, and I did see her and her baby in bed! And then I asked,
'Where is Jemmie, of whom I have heard so much?' She replied, 'He was
in the room a short time since, and I think he must be here still.' So
I went softly about the room till I saw a very small form prostrate and
at full length on the shelf under the dressing-table, and I took hold
of an arm and a leg and placed him on my knee, and then said, 'What
were you doing, dear, under the table?' 'I'se drawrin',' and in one
very beautiful little hand he held the paper, in the other the pencil."

The pencil drawings which we have seen, owned by Mrs. Livermore, are
curiously firm and strong for a child of four.



CHAPTER II: IN RUSSIA. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FORTY-THREE TO EIGHTEEN
FORTY-NINE.


In 1843, when Whistler was nine years old, Major Whistler sent for his
wife and children. Mrs. Whistler sailed from Boston in the _Arcadia_,
August 12, 1843, taking with her Deborah and the three boys, James,
William, and Charles. George Whistler, Major Whistler's eldest son, and
her "good maid Mary" went with them. The story of their journey and
their life in Russia is recorded in Mrs. Whistler's journal.

They arrived at Liverpool on the 29th of the same month. Mrs.
Whistler's two half-sisters, Mrs. William Winstanley and Miss Alicia
McNeill, lived at Preston, and there they stayed a fortnight. Then,
after a few days in London, they sailed for Hamburg.

There was no railroad from Hamburg, so they drove by carriage
to Lübeck, by stage to Travemünde, where they took the steamer
_Alexandra_ for St. Petersburg, and George Whistler left them. Between
Travemünde and Cronstadt, Charles, the youngest child, fell ill of
seasickness and died within a day. There was just time to bury him at
Cronstadt--temporarily; he was afterwards buried at Stonington--and
his death saddened the meeting between Major Whistler and his wife and
children.

Mrs. Whistler objected to hotels and to boarding, and a house was
found in the Galernaya. She did her best to make it not only a
comfortable, but an American home, for Major Whistler's attachment to
his native land, she said, was so strong as to be almost a religious
sentiment. Their food was American, American holidays were kept in
American fashion. Many of their friends were Americans. Major Whistler
was nominally consulting engineer to Colonel Melnikoff, but actually
in charge of the construction and equipment of the line, and as the
material was supplied by the firm of Winans of Baltimore, Mr. Winans
and his partners, Messrs. Harrison and Eastwick, of Philadelphia, were
in Russia with their families.

Mrs. Whistler's strictness did not mean opposition to pleasure. Yet
at times she became afraid that her boys were not "keeping to the
straight and narrow way." There were evenings of illuminations that put
off bedtime; there were afternoons of skating and coasting; Christmas
gaieties, with Christmas dinners of roast turkey and pumpkin pie;
visits to American friends; parties at home, when the two boys "behaved
like gentlemen, and their father commended them upon it"; there were
presents of guns from the father, returning from long absences on the
road; there were dancing lessons, which Jemmie would have done anything
rather than miss.

Whistler as a boy was exactly what those who knew him as a man would
expect; gay and bright, absorbed in his work when that work was
art, brave and fearless, selfish if selfishness is another name for
ambition, considerate and kindly, above all to his mother. The boy,
like the man, was delightful to those who understood him; "startling,"
"alarming," to those who did not.

Mrs. Whistler's journal soon becomes extremely interesting:

_March 29_ (1844). "I must not omit recording our visiting the
Gastinnoi to-day in anticipation of Palm Sunday. Our two boys were
most excited, Jemmie's animation roused the wonder of many, for even
in crowds here such decorum and gravity prevails that it must be
surprising when there is any ebullition of joy."

_April 22_ (1844). "Jemmie is confined to his bed with a mustard
plaster on his throat; he has been very poorly since the thawing season
commenced, soon becoming overheated, takes cold; when he complained of
pain first in his shoulder, then in his side, my fears of a return of
last year's attack made me tremble, and when I gaze upon his pale face
sleeping, contrasted to Willie's round cheeks, my heart is full; our
dear James said to me the other day, so touchingly, 'Oh, I am sorry
the Emperor ever asked father to come to Russia, but if I had the boys
here, I should not feel so impatient to get back to Stonington,' yet I
cannot think the climate here affects his health; Willie never was as
stout in his native land, and James looks better than when we brought
him here. At eight o'clock I am often at my reading or sewing without a
candle, and I cannot persuade James to put up his drawing and go to bed
while it is light."

The journal explains that Whistler as a boy suffered from severe
rheumatic attacks that added to the weakness of his heart, the eventual
cause of his death. Major and Mrs. Whistler rented a country-house on
the Peterhoff Road in the spring of 1844. There is an account of a
day at Tsarskoé Seló, when Colonel Todd, American Minister to Russia,
showed them the Palace:

_May 6_ (1844). "Rode to the station, and took the cars upon the only
railroad in Russia, which took us the twenty versts to the pretty town.
It would be ungenerous in me to remark how inferior the railroad,
cars, &c., seemed to us Americans. The boys were delighted with it
all. Jemmie wished he could stay to examine the fine pictures and know
who painted them, but as I returned through the grounds I asked him if
he should wish to be a grand duke and own it all for playgrounds: he
decided there could be no freedom with a footman at his heels."

_July 1_ (1844). "... I went with Willie to do some shopping in the
Nevski. He is rather less excitable than Jemmie, and therefore more
tractable. They each can make their wants known in Russ., but I prefer
this gentlest of my dear boys to go with me. We had hardly reached
home when a tremendous shower came up, and Jemmie and a friend, who
had been out in a boat on a canal at the end of our avenue, got well
drenched. Just as we were seated at tea, a carriage drove up and Mr.
Miller entered, introducing Sir William Allen, the great Scotch artist,
of whom we have heard lately, who has come to St. Petersburg to revive
on canvas some of the most striking events from the life of Peter the
Great. They had been to the monastery to listen to the chanting at
vespers in the Greek chapel. Mr. Miller congratulated his companion on
being in the nick of time for our excellent home-made bread and fresh
butter, but, above all, the refreshment of a good cup of tea. His chat
then turned upon the subject of Sir William Allen's painting of Peter
the Great teaching the mujiks to make ships. This made Jemmie's eyes
express so much interest that his love for art was discovered, and Sir
William must needs see his attempts. When my boys had said good night,
the great artist remarked to me, 'Your little boy has uncommon genius,
but do not urge him beyond his inclination.' I told him his gift
had only been cultivated as an amusement, and that I was obliged to
interfere, or his application would confine him more than we approved."

Of these attempts there remain few examples. One is the portrait of his
aunt Alicia McNeill, who visited them in Russia in 1844, sent to Mrs.
Palmer at Stonington, with the inscription: "James to Aunt Kate." In a
letter to Mrs. Livermore, written in French, when he was ten or eleven,
"he enclosed some pretty pen-and-ink drawings, each on a separate bit
of paper, and each surrounded by a frame of his own designing." He told
us he could remember wonderful things he had done during the years in
Russia. Once, he said, when on a holiday in London with his father, he
was not well, and was given a hot foot-bath, and he could never forget
how he sat looking at his foot, and then got paper and colours and set
to work to make a study of it, "and in Russia," he added, "I was always
doing that sort of thing."

_July 4_ (1844). "I have given my boys holiday to celebrate the
Independence of their country.... This morning Jemmie began relating
anecdotes from the life of Charles XII. of Sweden, and rather upbraided
me that I could not let him do as that monarch had done at seven years
old--manage a horse! I should have been at a loss how to afford my boys
a holiday, with a military parade to-day, but there was an encampment
of cadets, about two estates off, and they went with Colonel T.'s sons
to see them."

_July 10_ (1844). "A poem selected by my darling Jamie and put under
my plate at the breakfast-table, as a surprise on his tenth birthday.
I shall copy it, that he may be reminded of his happy childhood when
perhaps his grateful mother is not with him."

_August 20_ (1844). "... Jemmie is writing a note to his Swedish tutor
on his birthday. Jemmie loves him sincerely and gratefully. I suppose
his partiality to this Swede makes him espouse his country's cause
and admire the qualities of Charles XII. so greatly to the prejudice
of Peter the Great. He has been quite enthusiastic while reading the
life of this King of Sweden, this summer, and too willing to excuse his
errors."

_August 23_ (1844). "I wish I could describe the gardens at Peterhoff
where we were invited to drive to-day. The fountains are, perhaps, the
finest in the world. The water descends in sheets over steps, all the
heathen deities presiding. Jemmie was delighted with the figure of
Samson tearing open the jaws of the lion, from which ascends a _jet
d'eau_ one hundred feet.... There are some fine pictures, but Peter's
own paintings of the feathered race ought to be most highly prized,
though our Jemmie was so saucy as to laugh at them."

_August 28_ (1844). "I avail myself of Col. Todd's invitation to visit
Tsarskoé Seló to-day with Aunt Alicia, Deborah, and the two dear boys,
who are always so delighted at these little excursions.... My little
Jemmie's heart was made sad by discovering swords which had been taken
in the battle between Peter and Charles XII., for he knew, from their
rich hilts set in pearls and precious stones, that they must have
belonged to noble Swedes. 'Oh!' he exclaimed, 'I'd rather have one of
these than all the other things in the armoury! How beautiful they
are!'... I was somewhat annoyed that Col. Todd had deemed it necessary
to have a dinner party for us.

"... The colonel proposed the Emperor's health in champagne, which
not even the Russian general, who declined wine, could refuse, and
even I put my glass to my lips, which so encouraged my little boys
that they presented their glasses to be filled, and, forgetting at
their little side-table the guests at ours, called out aloud, _'Santé
à l'Empereur!'_ The captain clapped his hands with delight, and
afterwards addressed them in French. All at the table laughed and
called the boys '_Bons sujets_.'"

They were at St. Petersburg again in September, preparing their
Christmas gifts for America. Whistler, sending one to his cousin Amos
Palmer, wrote in an outburst of patriotism that "the English were
going to America to be licked by the Yankees": it was at the time of
the disagreement over Oregon Territory. In another letter he gives the
Fourth of July as his birthday.

_Ash Wednesday_ (1845). "I avail myself of this Lenten season to have
my boys every morning before breakfast recite a verse from the Psalms,
and I, who wish to encourage them, am ready with my response. How very
thankful I shall be when the weather moderates so that Jemmie's long
imprisonment may end, and Willie have his dear brother with him in the
skating grounds and ice-hills. Here comes my good boy Jemmie now, with
his history in hand to read to me, as he does every afternoon, as we
fear they may lose their own language in other tongues, and thus I gain
a half-hour's enjoyment by hearing them read daily."

_April 5_ (1845). "Our boys have left the breakfast table before eight
o'clock to trundle their new hoops on the Quai with their governess,
and have brought home such bright red cheeks and buoyant spirits to
enter the schoolroom with and to gladden my eyes. Jemmie began his
course of drawing lessons at the Academy of Fine Arts just on the
opposite side of the Neva, exactly fronting my bedroom window. He is
entered at the second room. There are two higher, and he fears he
shall not reach them, because the officer who is still to continue his
private lesson at home is a pupil himself in the highest, and Jemmie
looks up to him with all the reverence an artist merits. He seems
greatly to enjoy going to his class, and yesterday had to go by the
bridge on account of the ice, and felt very important when he told me
he had to give the Isvóshtclók fifteen copecks silver instead of ten."

In the archives of the Imperial Academy of Science there is a "List of
Scholars of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts," and in this and the
"Class Journal of the Inspector" for 1845 James Whistler is entered as
"belonging to the drawing class, heads from Nature." In 1846 he was on
March 2 examined and passed as first in his class, the number being
twenty-eight. From 1845 to 1849 Professors Vistelious and Voivov were
the masters of the life class.

On May 14 (1845) there was a review of troops in St. Petersburg, and
the Whistlers saw it from a window in the Prince of Oldenburg's palace.

"Jemmie's eagerness to attain all his desires for information and his
fearlessness often makes him offend, and it makes him appear less
amiable than he really is. The officers, however, seemed to find
amusement in his remarks in French or English as they accosted him.
They were soon informed of his military ardour, and that he hoped to
serve his country. England? No, indeed! Russia, then? No, no; America,
of course!"

_May 2_ (1846). "The boys are in the schoolroom now, reading the Roman
history in French to M. Lamartine, promising themselves the pleasure
of reviewing the pictures at the Academy of Fine Arts at noon, which
they have enjoyed almost every day this week. It is the Triennial
Exhibition, and we like them to become familiar with the subjects
of the modern artists, and to James especially it is the greatest
treat we could offer. I went last Wednesday with Whistler and was
highly gratified. I should like to take some of the Russian scenes so
faithfully portrayed to show in my native land. My James had described
a boy's portrait said to be _his_ likeness, and although the eyes were
black and the curls darker, we found it so like him that his father
said he would be glad to buy it, but its frame would only correspond
with the furniture of a palace. The boy is taken in a white shirt with
crimped frill, open at the throat; it is half-length, and no other
garment could show off the glow of the brunette complexion so finely."

_May 30_ (1846). "Yesterday the Empress was welcomed back to St.
Petersburg. Last night the illumination which my boys had been eagerly
expecting took place. When at 10.30 they came in, Jamie expressed such
an eager desire that I would allow him to be my escort just to take
a peep at the Nevski that I could not deny him. The effect of the
light from Vasili Ostrow was very beautiful, and as we drove along the
Quai, the flowers and decorations of large mansions were, I thought,
even more tasteful. We had to fall into a line of carriages in the
Isaac Square to enter that Broadway, and just then a shout from the
populace announced to us that the Empress was passing. I was terrified
lest the poles of their carriage should run into our backs, or that
some horses might take fright or bite us, we were so close, but Jamie
laughed heartily and aloud at my timidity. He behaved like a man. With
one arm he guarded me, and with the other kept the animals at a proper
distance; and, I must confess, brilliant as the spectacle was, _my_
great pleasure was derived from the conduct of my dear and manly boy."

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF WHISTLER AS A BOY

By Sir William Boxall

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 18_)]

[Illustration: THE TWO BROTHERS. MINIATURE

Lent by Miss Emma Palmer

Formerly in the possession of Mrs. George D. Stanton and Miss Emma W.
Palmer

Artist unknown

(_See page 19_)]

_July 7_ (1846). "My two boys found much amusement in propelling
themselves on the drawbridge to and from the fancy island in the pond
at Mrs. G.'s, where we went to spend the day; they find it such a
treat to be in the country, and just run wild, chasing butterflies and
picking the wild flowers so abundant. But nothing gave them so much
pleasure as their 4th July, spent with their little American friends at
Alexandrovsky, the Eastwicks; the fireworks, percussion caps, muskets,
horseback riding, &c., made them think it the most delightful place in
Russia. In some way James caught cold, and his throat was so inflamed
that leeches were applied, and he has been in consequence confined to
his room.... We spend our mornings in reading, drawing, &c. Then the
boys take their row with good John across the Neva, to the morning
bath, and in the cool of the afternoon a drive to the island, or a
range in the summer gardens, or a row on the river."

_July 27_ (1846). "Last Wednesday they had another long day in the
country, and got themselves into much mischief. They had at last broken
the ropes of the drawbridge, by which it was drawn to and from the
island, and there were my wild boys prisoners on it. I thought it best
for them to remain so, as they were so unruly, but the good-natured
dominie was pressed into their service, and swimming to their rescue,
ere I could interfere; Jemmie was so drenched by his efforts that dear
Mrs. R. took him away to her room to coax him to lie down awhile and to
rub him dry, lest his sore throat return to tell a tale of disobedience.

"... On Thursday there was another grand celebration of the birthday
of the Grand Duchess Olga. I gladly gave Mary permission to take the
boys in our carriage.... They were gone so long that I grew anxious
about them, but finally they arrived very tired, and poor Mary said
she never wanted to go in such a crowd again. James had protected her
as well as he was able, but she was glad to get home safely. The boys,
however, enjoyed it immensely, as they saw all the Imperial family
within arm's length, as they alighted from their pony chaises to enter
the New Palace.... We were invited to go to the New Palace, and went
immediately to the apartment occupied by his lamented daughter. On one
side is the lovely picture painted by Buloff, so like her in life and
health, though taken after death, as representing her spirit passing
upwards to the palace above the blue sky. She wears her Imperial
robes, with a crown on her head; at the back of the crown is a halo
of glory--the stars surround her as she passes through them. No wonder
James should have thought this picture the most interesting of all the
works of art around us."

In the autumn of 1846 Major Whistler "placed the boys, as boarders, at
M. Jourdan's school. My dear boys almost daily exchange _billet-doux_
with mother, since their absence of a week at a time from home.
James reported everything 'first-rate,' even to brown bread and salt
for breakfast, and greens for dinner, and both forbore to speak of
homesickness, and welcome, indeed, were they on their first Saturday at
home, when they opened the front door and called 'Mother, Mother!' as
they rushed in all in a glow, and they looked almost handsome in their
new round black cloth caps, set to one side of their cropped heads,
and the tight school uniform of grey trousers and black jacket makes
them appear taller and straighter; Jamie found the new suit too tight
for his drawing lesson, so he sacrificed vanity to comfort, and was
not diverted from his two hours' drawing by the other boys' frolics,
which argues well for his determination to improve, as he promised his
father. How I enjoyed having them back and listening to all their chat
about their school--they seemed to enjoy their nice home tea. When it
came time for them to go back, Willie broke down and told me all he had
suffered from homesickness, and when I talked to my more manly James,
I unfortunately said, 'You do not know what he feels.' Then Jamie's
wounded love melted him into tears, as he said, 'Oh! mother, you think
I don't miss being away from home!' He brushed away the shower with the
back of his hand as if he was afraid of being seen weeping. Dear boys,
may they never miss me as I miss them!"

Shortly after this, Mrs. Whistler's youngest son, John Bouttatz, born
in the summer of 1845, died.

_November 14_ (1846). "Jamie was kept in until night last Saturday, and
made to write a given portion of French over twenty-five times as a
punishment for stopping to talk to a classmate after their recitation,
instead of marching back to his seat according to order--poor fellow,
it was rather severe when he had looked only for rewards during
the week; as he had not had one mark of disapprobation in all that
time, and was so much elated by his number of good balls for perfect
recitations that he forgot disobedience of orders is a capital offence
under military discipline. He lost his drawing lesson, and made us all
unhappy at home. We tried to keep his dinner hot, but his appetite
had forsaken him, although only having eaten a penny roll since
breakfast--he dashed the tears of vexation from his eyes at losing his
drawing lesson, but his cheerfulness was soon restored and we had our
usual pleasant evening."

_January 23_ (1847). "It is three weeks this afternoon since the dear
boys came home from school to spend the Russian Christmas and holidays,
and it seems not probable that they shall return again to M. Jourdan's
this winter. James was drooping from the close confinement, and for two
days was confined to his bed. Then Willie was taken. They are quite
recovered now, and skate almost daily on the Neva, and Jamie often
crosses on the ice to the Academy of Fine Arts to spend an hour or two."

_January 30_ (1847). "Jamie was taken ill with a rheumatic attack soon
after this, and I have had my hands full, for he has suffered much with
pain and weariness, but he is gradually convalescing, and to-day he was
able to walk across the floor; he has been allowed to amuse himself
with his pencil, while I read to him; he has not taken a dose of
medicine during the attack, but great care was necessary in his diet."

_February 27_ (1847). "Never shall I cease to record with deep
gratitude dear Jamie's unmurmuring submission these last six weeks. He
still cannot wear jacket or trousers, as the blistering still continues
on his chest. What a blessing is such a contented temper as his, so
grateful for every kindness, and rarely complains. He is now enjoying
a huge volume of Hogarth's engravings, so famous in the Gallery of
Artists. We put the immense book on the bed, and draw the great
easy-chair close up, so that he can feast upon it without fatigue. He
said, while so engaged yesterday, 'Oh, how I wish I were well; I want
so to show these engravings to my drawing-master; it is not everyone
who has a chance of seeing Hogarth's own engravings of his originals,'
and then added, in his own happy way, 'and if I had not been ill,
mother, perhaps no one would have thought of showing them to me.'"

From this time until his death, Whistler maintained that Hogarth was
the greatest English artist, and never lost an opportunity of saying
so. His long illness in 1847 is therefore memorable as the beginning
of his love of Hogarth and also as a proof of his early appreciation
of great art. Curiously, in his mother's diary there is no mention of
the Hermitage, nor in his talks with us did he ever refer to it and to
the pictures there by Velasquez, the artist he later grew to admire so
enormously.

_March 23_ (1847). "After many postponements, the Emperor finally
inspected the Railroad ... and many of the Court were invited. The
day after his visit ... the Court held a _levée_, my husband was
invited; when he arrived was summoned to a private audience in an
inner apartment; the Emperor met him with marked kindness, kissed him
on each side his face, and hung an ornament suspended by a scarlet
ribbon around his neck, saying the Emperor thus conferred upon him the
Order of St. Anne. Whistler, as such honours are new to Republicans,
was somewhat abashed, but when he returned with the Court to the
large circle in the outer room, he was congratulated by the officers
generally."

It is said that when Major Whistler was asked to wear the Russian
uniform he refused. The decoration he could not decline.

Whistler told us that the Emperor was most impressed with the way his
father met every difficulty. When Major Whistler asked the Czar how
the line should be built, showing him the map of the country between
St. Petersburg and Moscow, the Czar, as everybody now knows, took
a ruler, drew a straight line from one city to the other, and the
railroad follows that ruled line. But everybody does not know that
when the rolling stock was ready it was found to have been made of a
different gauge from the rails. The people who supplied it demanded to
be paid. Major Whistler not only refused, but burnt it, and took the
responsibility.

Mrs. Whistler and the three children spent the summer of 1847 in
England, where Major Whistler joined them. They visited their
relations, and before their return Deborah was married. She had met
Seymour Haden, a young surgeon, while staying with friends, the
Chapmans, at Preston.

_October 10_ (1847). "Deborah's wedding day. Bright and pleasant. James
the only groomsman, and very proud of the honour."

The next summer (1848) Mrs. Whistler went back to England. Jamie had
had another of his bad attacks of rheumatic fever, cholera broke out in
St. Petersburg; "at its very name," she wrote, "my heart failed me." On
July 6 she left for London with her boys. Jamie was better, and anxious
to make a portrait of a young Hindu aboard.

_July 22_ (1848). "_Shanklin, Isle of Wight._ This is Willie's twelfth
birthday and has been devoted to his pleasure; poor Jamie was envious
that he could not bathe with us in the beautiful summer sea, for the
doctors think the bracing air as much as he can bear; we three had a
seaside ramble and then returned to rest at our cottage. I plied the
needle, while my boys amused themselves, Willie in making wax flowers
and Jemmie in drawing."

_Monday_ [_no date_]. "This day being especially fine, Mrs. P. took
the boys on a pedestrian excursion along the shore to Culver Cliffs.
In the hope that Jamie might finish his sketch of Cook's Castle, we
started the next day after an early dinner, taking a donkey with us
for fear of fatigue for James or Deborah.... We availed ourselves of
a lovely bright morning to take a drive, said to be the most charming
in England, along the south coast of the Isle as far as 'Black Gang
Chine,' where we alighted at the inn. Jamie flew off like a sea-fowl,
his sketch-book in hand, and when I finally found him, he was seated
on the red sandy beach, down, down, down, where it was with difficulty
Willie and I followed him. He was attempting the sketch of the
waterfall and cavern up the side of the precipice; he came back later,
glowing with the exercise of climbing, with sketch-book in hand, and
laughing at being 'Jacky last,' as we were all assembled for our drive
back."

James did not return with Mrs. Whistler. It was feared his health would
not stand another Russian winter. He stayed with the Hadens at 62
Sloane Street, and studied with a clergyman who had one other pupil.
It was then that Boxall, commissioned by Major Whistler, painted his
portrait, "when he was fourteen years old," Mrs. Thynne, his niece,
says.

Mr. Alan S. Cole, C.B., recalls that "Whistler, as early as 1849,
was staying with the Hadens in Sloane Street, and went to one or two
children's parties given by the old Dilkes. To these also went my
elder sisters and Miss Thackeray and so met Jimmy. Seymour Haden was
our family doctor--with whose family ours was intimate--very much on
account of the early relations between my father, his brothers, and
Seymour Haden, dating from schooldays at Christ's Hospital."

Major Whistler, through the summer of 1848, continued his work, though
cholera raged. In November he was attacked. He recovered, but his
health was shaken; he overtaxed his strength, and on April 9, 1849, he
died: the immediate cause heart trouble, which his son inherited. He
had been employed or consulted also in the building of the iron roof of
the Riding House at St. Petersburg and the iron bridge over the Neva,
in the improvement of the Dvina at Archangel, and the fortifications,
the arsenal, and the docks at Cronstadt. He was buried in Evergreen
Cemetery, Stonington, with three of his sons, and a monument was
erected to his memory by his fellow officers in Greenwood Cemetery,
Brooklyn.

The Emperor suggested, Whistler told us, that the boys should be
educated in the school for Court pages. But Mrs. Whistler determined
to take them home, and the Emperor sent her in his State barge to
the Baltic. She went to the Hadens, where she found James grown tall
and strong. In London they forgot for a moment their sorrow in their
visit to the Royal Academy (1849), in Trafalgar Square, where Boxall's
portrait of James was exhibited. A short visit to Preston followed, the
two boys carried off by "kind Aunt Alicia" to Edinburgh and Glasgow,
and then they met in Liverpool. Economy made Mrs. Whistler hesitate
between steamer and sailing-packet, but, by the advice of George
Whistler, she took the steamer _America_, July 29, 1849, for New York,
where they arrived on August 9, at once going by boat to Stonington.



CHAPTER III: SCHOOLDAYS IN POMFRET. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FORTY-NINE TO
EIGHTEEN FIFTY-ONE.


"The boys were brought up like little princes until their father's
death, which changed everything," Miss Emma W. Palmer writes us. Major
Whistler's salary was large, so were his expenses; we have never heard
there was a pension. He left his family comparatively poor--fifteen
hundred dollars a year.

Mrs. Whistler would have preferred to stay at Stonington, but for her
two sons' sake she went to Pomfret, Connecticut, where there was a
good school, Christ Church Hall. The principal was Rev. Dr. Roswell
Park, a West Point engineer before he became parson and school teacher.
At Pomfret Mrs. Whistler made herself a home. She could only afford
part of an old farmhouse, and she felt keenly the discomfort for
her boys. Yet she kept up the old discipline. On Christmas Day she
wrote to her mother that they had been busy all morning bringing in
wood and listing draughty doors, though she allowed them to lighten
their task by hanging up evergreens and to sweeten it with "Stuart's
Candy." After a snowstorm, they had, like other boys, to shovel paths,
and all the while they had to study. "Jimmie was still an excitable
spirit with little perseverance," she wrote; however, she would not
faint but labour, and "I urged them on daily, and could see already
their exertions to overcome habits of indolence." The Bible was read
and the two boys were made to recite a verse every morning before
breakfast. Miss Palmer, their schoolmate, during the winter of 1850,
remembers that Mrs. Whistler "was very strict with them," and describes
Whistler at this period as "tall and slight, with a pensive, delicate
face, shaded by soft brown curls, one lock of which fell over his
forehead.... He had a somewhat foreign appearance and manner, which,
aided by his natural abilities, made him very charming even at that
age.... He was one of the sweetest, loveliest boys I ever met, and was
a great favourite."

The deepest impression he left at Pomfret was as a draughtsman. He
made caricatures and illustrations to the books he read, portraits of
his friends, and landscapes. Many of his sketches have been preserved.
The late Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton, also one of his schoolmates,
describes him as "a man as fascinating as he was great, with a charm
which from the very beginning everyone who knew him recognised."
Whistler told us that he used to walk to school with her, carrying her
books and basket, and she wrote us:

"He was very attentive and kind; full of fun in those days. The master
of the school--Rev. Dr. Roswell Park--was one of the stiffest and most
precise of clergymen, and dressed the part. One day Whistler came to
school with a high, stiff collar and a tie precisely copied from Dr.
Park's. Of course, the schoolroom was full of suppressed laughter.
The reverend gentleman was very angry, but he could hardly take open
notice of an offence of that sort. So he bottled up his wrath, but
when Jimmy--as we used to call him in those schooldays--gave him some
trifling cause of offence, the Rev. Dr. went for him with a ferrule.
The school was in two divisions--the girls sitting on one side of the
large hall, and the boys on the other. Jimmy, pursued by the Dr. and
the ferrule, went round back of the girls' row, and threw himself down
on the floor, and the Dr. followed him and whacked him, more, I think,
to Jimmy's amusement than to his discomfort."

Mrs. Moulton had further recollections of the maps he drew, which "were
at once the pride and the envy of all the rest of us--they were so
perfect, so delicate, so exquisitely dainty in workmanship."

The work done at Pomfret by Whistler which we have seen does not strike
us as remarkable. It has its historic importance, but shows no greater
evidence of genius than the early work of any great artist.



CHAPTER IV: WEST POINT. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN
FIFTY-FOUR.


Though Whistler's mother was proud of his drawing, she did not see in
art a career for him. She thought he had inherited a profession more
distinguished. Many Whistlers and McNeills had been soldiers. West
Point had made of them men--Americans. West Point must do the same for
him. Through the influence of George Whistler with Daniel Webster,
he was appointed cadet At Large by President Fillmore, and on July
1, 1851, after two years at Pomfret school, within ten days of his
seventeenth birthday, he entered the United States Military Academy,
West Point, where Colonel Robert E. Lee was Commandant. Whistler was
not made for the army any more than Giotto for Tuscan pastures, or
Corot for a Paris bonnet shop. It was inevitable that he should fail.
Yet his three years at West Point were an experience he would not have
missed.

[Illustration: BIBI LALOUETTE

ETCHING. G. 51

(_See page 38_)]

[Illustration: STREET AT SAVERNE

ETCHING. G. 19

(_See page 43_)]

The record sent to us from West Point by Colonel C. W. Larned is: "He
entered July 1, 1851, under the name of James A. Whistler; aged sixteen
years and eleven months. He was appointed At Large.... At the end
of his second year, in 1853, he was absent with leave on account of
ill-health. On June 16, 1854, he was discharged from the Academy for
deficiency in chemistry. At that time he stood at the head of his class
in drawing and No. 39 in philosophy, the total number in the class
being 43."

The Professor of Drawing was Robert W. Weir. Mr. J. Alden Weir, his
son, remembers, "as a boy, my father showing me his work, which at that
time hung in what was known as the Gallery of the Drawing Academy.
There were about ten works by him framed. From the start he showed
evidences of a talent which later proved to be unique in those fine and
rare qualities hard to be understood by the majority."

Brigadier-General Alexander S. Webb, one of Whistler's classmates,
says: "In the art class one day, while Whistler was busy over an
India-ink drawing of a French peasant girl, Weir walked, as usual, from
desk to desk, examining the pupils' work. After looking over Whistler's
shoulder he stepped back to his own desk, filled his brush with
India-ink [General Webb says he can see him now, rubbing the colour on
the slab], and approached Whistler with a view of correcting some of
the lines in the latter's drawing. When Whistler saw him coming, he
raised his hands as if to ward off the strokes of his brush, and called
out, 'Oh, don't, sir, don't! You'll spoil it!'"

Mr. William M. Chase told the story to Whistler and asked if there was
any truth in it. "Well, you know he would have!" said Whistler.

Colonel Larned writes us: "I have here two drawings made by Whistler in
his course of instruction in drawing, one of which is a water-colour
copy of a coloured print, without special merit, and much touched up
by Professor Weir, as was his wont; another, a pen-and-ink copy also
of a colour print, quite brilliant and masterful in execution, which I
presented to the officers' mess. The colour sketch bears the ear-marks
all over it of Weir's retouching. It was his habit to touch up all
water-colours of the cadets for the examination exhibition, and I don't
believe Whistler at that time had any such facility in colour work as
is indicated in this drawing. With my knowledge of my predecessor's
practice, which we instructors follow to the best of our ability, I
have always been suspicious of its integrity. At the same time Whistler
was head in drawing, and it may be that Weir forbore in his case. The
pen-and-ink, however, must have been his own interpretation of a
colour lithograph, and shows such facility that it makes me hesitate.

"Whistler did another water-colour of a monk seated at a table by a
window writing. This is also a copy of an old print which was used by
Weir through successive classes. I think it was ---- who saw the thing
and wrote a lot of tommy-rot and hi-falutin about it and Whistler's
satiric genius, and his introduction in the monk's face of that of his
room-mate, assuming it to have been an original production. As a matter
of fact I have copies of the same thing by cadets in the gallery, all
touched up by Weir, and I fancy about as good as Whistler's."

Of these West Point drawings, copies probably of lithographs by Nash
or Haghe, only the pen drawing gives any promise. The water-colour is
worthless. The pen drawing has in it the beginning of the handling of
his etchings. Five drawings, four of _An Hour in the Life of a Cadet_
in pen-and-ink, and one of _An Encampment_ in wash, have lately been
found at West Point. The cadet drawings are far the best of his early
work that we have seen. The _Century Magazine_ published (March 1910) a
lithograph, called _The Song of the Graduates_, said to be by Whistler.
It is evident, however, that if Whistler did make the sketch, it was
re-drawn by a professional lithographer at Sarony's, who printed it.
The _Century_ also published (September 1910) a wood-engraving of some
class function for which he is given the credit as draughtsman and
engraver. But the work is that of a professional wood-engraver and
could not have been done by Whistler at any period of his life. The
attribution of these published prints to him is altogether unjustified.

Of his other studies there is little to record. This is Colonel
Larned's account of his failure in chemistry: "Whistler said: 'Had
silicon been a gas, I would have been a major-general.' He was called
up for examination in chemistry ... and given silicon to discuss. He
began: 'I am required to discuss the subject of silicon. Silicon is a
gas.' 'That will do, Mr. Whistler,' and he retired quickly to private
life."

According to Colonel Larned, Whistler then appealed to General Lee,
but Lee answered, "I can only regret that one so capable of doing well
should so have neglected himself, and must suffer the penalty."

Another story is of an examination in history. "What!" said his
examiner, "you do not know the date of the battle of Buena Vista?
Suppose you were to go out to dinner, and the company began to talk of
the Mexican War, and you, a West Point man, were asked the date of the
battle, what would you do?" "Do," said Whistler, "why, I should refuse
to associate with people who could talk of such things at dinner!"

Whistler's horsemanship was little better. It was not unusual, General
Webb says, for him at cavalry drill to go sliding over his horse's
head. Then Major Sackett, the commander, would call out: "Mr. Whistler,
aren't you a little ahead of the squad?" Whistler said to us Major
Sackett's remark was: "Mr. Whistler, I am pleased to see you for once
at the head of your class!" "But I did it gracefully," he insisted.
There are traditions of his fall when trotting in his first mounted
drill, and the astonishment of the dragoon who ran to carry him off
to hospital, when he rose unhurt with the complaint that he didn't
"see how any man could keep a horse for amusement." Once Whistler
had to ride a horse called "Quaker." "Dragoon, what horse is this?"
"'Quaker,'" said the soldier "Well, he's no friend!" said Whistler.

His observance of the regulations was often as bad as his horsemanship,
and his excuses worse. General Ruggles, a classmate, tells of the
discovery of a pair of boots which were against the regulations, and of
his writing a long explanation, winding up with the argument that, as
this demerit added but a little to the whole number, "what boots it?"

General Langdon writes us: "The widow of a Colonel Thompson occupied a
set of officer's quarters at the 'Point,' and, to eke out her pension,
was allowed to take ten or twelve cadets to board. Very soon after
his admission to the Academy Whistler discovered that the fare of the
cadets was not of his taste, and he applied for permission to take
his meals at Mrs. Thompson's. Now, though her house was in the row of
officers' quarters and the nearest to the cadet barracks, it was 'off
cadet limits,' except for the boarders at meals. One evening, long
after supper, Whistler was discovered by Mrs. Thompson, leaning over
her fence, talking with her pretty French maid. Mrs. Thompson inquired
his business there. Whistler replied: 'I am looking for my cat!' It
was well known that cadets were not allowed to keep cats, dogs, or
other beasts. The old lady nearly had a fit. As soon as she could
recover she gasped out: 'Young man, go 'way!' and sent her pretty maid
indoors. Of course, Whistler took no more meals at Mrs. Thompson's, but
in the mess hall, where the fare in those days was far from inviting."

Whistler told Sir Rennell Rodd another story: "The cadets were out
early one morning, engaged in surveying. It was cold and raw, and
Jimmy, finding a line of deep ditch through which he could make
a retiring movement, got back into college and his warm quarters
unperceived. By accident a roll-call was held that morning. Cadet
Whistler not being present, a report was drawn up and his name was sent
to the commanding officer as absent from parade without the knowledge
or permission of his instructor. The report was shown him, and he said
to the instructor: 'Have I your permission to speak?' 'Speak on, Cadet
Whistler.' 'You have reported me, sir, for being absent from parade
without the knowledge or permission of my instructor. Well, now, if I
was absent without your knowledge or permission, how did you know I was
absent?' They got into terms after that, and the incident closed."

The stories of Whistler at West Point might be multiplied. Many have
been published. The few we tell show that at the Military Academy, as
everywhere, he left his mark. We have a stronger proof in the letters
written to us by officers who were his fellow cadets. It is half a
century since they and Whistler were together, and, with one exception,
they never saw him in later years, yet their memory of him is fresh.
General D. McN. Gregg and General C. B. Comstock, his classmates,
General Loomis L. Langdon, General Henry L. Abbott, General Oliver
Otis Howard, General G. W. C. Lee, in the class before his, have sent
us their recollections. These distinguished officers agree in their
affection and their appreciation of him. He was "a vivacious and
likeable little fellow," General Comstock says, and we get a picture
of him, short and slight, not over military in his bearing, somewhat
foreign in appearance, near-sighted, and with thick, black curls that
won him the name of "Curly." Others remember his wit, his pranks, his
fondness for cooking and the excellence of his dishes; his excursions
"after taps," for buckwheat cakes and oysters or ice-cream and
soda-water to Joe's, and, for heavier fare, to Benny Haven's a mile
away, a serious offence; they remember his indifference to discipline,
and the number of his demerits, which they excuse as "not indicating
any moral obliquity," but due to such harmless faults as "lates,"
"absences," "clothing out of order"; most of all, they remember his
drawings--his caricatures of the cadets, the Board of Visitors, the
masters, his sketches scribbled over his text-books, his illustrations
to Dickens, Dumas, Victor Hugo. General Langdon recalls a picture that
he and Whistler painted together. Whistler gave these drawings away,
and many have been preserved. Even the cover of a geometry book, on
which he sketched and noted bets with General Webb, was kept by his
room-mate, Frederick L. Childs--_Les Enfants_ Whistler called him.

[Illustration: LA MÈRE GÉRARD

OIL

In the possession of William Heinemann, Esq.

(_See page 39_)]

[Illustration: HEAD OF AN OLD MAN SMOKING

OIL

In the Musée du Luxembourg

(_See page 52_)]

Whistler looked back to West Point with equal affection. He failed,
but West Point was the basis of his code of conduct. As a "West Point
man" he met every emergency, and his bearing, his carriage, showed the
influence of those days when he liked to look back to himself "very
dandy in grey." For the discipline, the tradition, the tone of the
Academy he never lost his respect. He knew what it could do in making
men of boys. "From the moment we came," he said to us, "we were United
States officers, not schoolboys, not college students. We were ruled,
not by little school or college rules, but by our honour, by our
deference to the unwritten law of tradition." He resented the least
innovation that threatened the hold of this tradition over the cadets.
"To take a cadet into court was destruction to the _morale_ of West
Point; it was such a disgrace to offend against the unwritten laws
that the offender's career was ruined." In the most trivial matters
he deplored deviation from the old standard. That was the reason of
his indignation when he heard that cadets were playing football, and,
worse, playing against college teams; to put themselves on the level of
students "was beneath the dignity of officers of the United States."
During our war with Spain, and the Boers' struggle in South Africa,
there was not an event, not a rumour, that he did not refer to West
Point and its code. The Spanish War, though, "no doubt, we should
never have gone into it, was the most wonderful, the most beautiful
war since Louis XIV. Never in modern times has there been such a war;
it was conducted on correct West Point principles, with the most
perfect courtesy and dignity on both sides, and the greatest chivalry."
When he came back to London from Corsica in 1901, and was telling us
of the people and the way they clung to old custom and ceremonial,
he said that he had found "the Roman tradition almost as fine as the
West Point tradition," and this was a concession. We never knew him to
show the least desire to return to Lowell or Stonington, to Pomfret or
Washington, but he said, "If I ever make the journey to America, I will
go straight to Baltimore, then to West Point, and then sail for England
again." One evening we asked him to meet an officer just from West
Point. His interest could not have been keener, had he left the Academy
the day before. He wanted to know about everything--the buildings, the
life, the discipline. He deplored every innovation, always, above all,
football: West Point to him was in danger when cadets could stoop to
dispute "with college students for a dirty ball kicked round a muddy
field." This was the shadow thrown over his pleasure when he heard of
the pride the Academy took in claiming him, of his reputation there,
of his drawings hanging in places of honour. It was the military side
of the Academy, however, that stirred him to enthusiasm. His face
fell when, asking the officer, who, like Major Whistler, was in the
artillery, "Professor of Tactics, I suppose?" the officer answered,
"No, of French." He showed his affection for the Military Academy by
sending to the library a copy of _Whistler_ v. _Ruskin: Art and Art
Critics_, with autograph notes and on the title-page the inscription:
"From an old cadet whose pride it is to remember his West Point days."
This is signed with the butterfly, and newspaper cuttings about the
trial are pasted at the end of the book. The authorities at West Point
have honoured him by placing a memorial tablet, one of St. Gaudens'
last works, in the library of the Academy, and at the suggestion of the
late Major Zalinski, a number of American artists have given a series
of works to the Academy in his honour. In this collection Whistler
alone is not represented, we believe.

But it needs more than respect and love for the Military Academy to
make a soldier, and Whistler, like Poe before him, was an alien at
West Point. It was no question of the number of his demerits, or of
his ignorance of chemistry and history; he had something else to do in
life.



CHAPTER V: THE COAST SURVEY. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-FOUR AND EIGHTEEN
FIFTY-FIVE.


When Whistler left West Point in 1854 he had not only to face the
disappointment of his mother, but to find another career. The plan
now was to apprentice him to Mr. Winans, in the locomotive works at
Baltimore.

Mr. Frederick B. Miles writes us: "It was in 1854 that I first met
Whistler in Baltimore, after he left West Point, at the house of Thomas
Winans, who had returned from Russia. I was apprenticed to the loco.
works of old Mr. Ross Winans, Thomas Winans' father. His elder brother,
George Whistler, was a friend of my family; had been superintendent of
the New York and New Haven Railroad, and had married Miss Julia Winans,
sister of Thomas Winans, then came into the loco. works as partner and
superintendent. I was in the drawing-room under him.

"Whistler was staying with Tom Winans or his brother, George Whistler.
They were perplexed at his 'flightiness'--wanted him to enter the loco.
works. His younger brother William was an apprentice along with me.
But Jem never really worked. He spent much of his several short stays
and two long ones in Baltimore loitering about the drawing-office and
shops, and at my drawing-desk in Tom Winans' house. We all had boards
with paper, carefully stretched, which Jem would cover with sketches,
to our great disgust, obliging us to stretch fresh ones, but we loved
him all the same. He would also ruin all our best pencils, sketching
not only on the paper, but also on the smoothly finished wooden backs
of the drawing-boards, which, I think, he preferred to the paper
side. We kept some of the sketches for a long time. I had a beauty--a
cavalier in a dungeon cell, with one small window high up. In all his
work at that time he was very Rembrandtesque, but, of course, only
amateurish. Nevertheless he was studying and working out effects."

Whistler saw enough of the locomotive works to know that he did not
want to be an apprentice, and it was not long before he left Baltimore
for Washington. To us he spoke as if he had gone to Washington straight
from West Point. He was with us on the evening of September 15, 1900,
after the news had come from the Transvaal of President Kruger's
flight, and our talking of it led him back to West Point, and so to the
story of his days in the service of the Government. He followed the
Boer War with intense interest:

"The Boers are as fine as the Southerners--their fighting would be no
discredit to West Point," and he was indignant with us for looking
upon Kruger's flight as diplomatically a blunder. "Diplomatically it
was right, you know, the one thing Kruger should have done, just as,
in that other amazing campaign, flight had been the one thing for
Jefferson Davis, a Southern gentleman who had the code. I shall always
remember the courtesy shown me by Jefferson Davis, through whom I got
my appointment in the Coast Survey.

"It was after my little difference with the Professor of Chemistry at
West Point. The Professor would not agree with me that silicon was a
gas, but declared it was a metal; and as we could come to no agreement
in the matter, it was suggested--all in the most courteous and correct
West Point way--that perhaps I had better leave the Academy. Well,
you know, it was not a moment for the return of the prodigal to his
family or for any slaying of fatted calves. I had to work, and I went
to Washington. There I called at once on Jefferson Davis, who was
Secretary of War--a West Point man like myself. He was most charming,
and I--well, from my Russian cradle, I had an idea of things, and the
interview was in every way correct, conducted on both sides with the
utmost dignity and elegance. I explained my unfortunate difference with
the Professor of Chemistry--represented that the question was one of no
vital importance, while on all really important questions I had carried
off more than the necessary marks. My explanation made, I suggested
that I should be reinstated at West Point, in which case, as far as I
was concerned, silicon should remain a metal. The Secretary, courteous
to the end, promised to consider the matter, and named a day for a
second interview.

"Before I went back to the Secretary of War, I called on the Secretary
of the Navy, also a Southerner, James C. Dobbin, of South Carolina,
suggesting that I should have an appointment in the Navy. The Secretary
objected that I was too young. In the confidence of youth, I said age
should be no objection; I 'could be entered at the Naval Academy, and
the three years at West Point could count at Annapolis.' The Secretary
was interested, for he, too, had a sense of things. He regretted, with
gravity, the impossibility. But something impressed him; for, later,
he reserved one of six appointments he had to make in the marines and
offered it to me. In the meantime, I had returned to the Secretary of
War, who had decided that it was impossible to meet my wishes in the
matter of West Point; West Point discipline had to be observed, and if
one cadet were reinstated, a dozen others who had tumbled out after me
would have to be reinstated too. But if I would call on Captain Benham,
of the Coast Survey, a post might be waiting for me there."

Captain Benham was a friend of his father, and Whistler was engaged in
the drawing division of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, at
the salary of a dollar and a half a day. This appointment he received
on November 7, 1854, six months after he had left West Point. There was
nothing to appeal to him in the routine of the office. What he had to
do he did, but with no enthusiasm.

"I was apt to be late, I was so busy socially. I lived in a small room,
but it was amazing how I was asked and went everywhere--to balls, to
the Legations, to all that was going on. Labouchere, an _attaché_ at
the British Legation, has never ceased to talk of me, so gay, and, when
I had not a dress suit, pinning up the tails of my frock-coat, and
turning it into a dress-coat for the occasion. Shocking!"

Mr. Labouchere has told this story in a letter to us: "I did know
Whistler very well in America about fifty years ago. But he was
then a young man at Washington, who--if I remember rightly--had not
been able to pass his examination at West Point and had given no
indication of his future fame. He was rather hard up, I take it, for
I remember that he pinned back the skirt of a frock-coat to make it
pass as a dress-coat at evening parties. Washington was then a small
place compared with what it is now, where everybody--so to say--knew
everybody, and the social parties were of a simple character. This is
really all that I remember of Whistler at that time, except that he was
thought witty and paradoxically amusing!"

But long before something in his dress drew attention to him. Though
he was never seen in the high-standing collar and silk hat of the
time, some remember him in a Scotch cap and a plaid shawl thrown
over his shoulder, then the fashion; others recall a slouch hat and
cloak, his coat, unbuttoned, showing his waistcoat; while traditions
of his social charm come from every side. Adjutant-General Breck is
responsible for the story of Whistler having invited the Russian
Minister--others say the _Chargé d'Affaires_--Edward de Stoeckl, to
dine with him, carrying the Minister off in his own carriage, doing the
marketing by the way, and cooking the dinner before his guest in the
room where he lived. And it has been said that never was the Minister
entertained by so brilliant a host while in Washington.

Mr. John Ross Key, a fellow draughtsman in the Coast Survey, says
that this room was in a house in Thirteenth Street, near Pennsylvania
Avenue, and that Whistler usually dined in a restaurant close by, kept
by a Mr. and Mrs. A. Gautier. According to the late A. Lindenkohl,
another fellow draughtsman, Whistler also lived for a while in a house
at the north-east corner of E. and Twelfth Streets, a two-storey brick
building which has lately been pulled down. He occupied a plainly but
comfortably furnished room, for which he paid ten dollars a month. The
office records show that he worked six and one-half days in January,
and five and three-fourths in February. He usually arrived late, but,
he would say, it was not his fault. "I was not too late; the office
opened too early." Lindenkohl described an effort to reform him:

"Captain Benham took occasion to tell me that he felt great interest in
the young man, not only on account of his talents, but also on account
of his father, and he told me that he would be highly pleased if I
could induce Whistler to be more regular in his attendance. 'Call at
his lodgings on your way to the office,' he said, 'and see if you can't
bring him along.'

"Accordingly, one morning, I called at Whistler's lodgings at half-past
eight. No doubt he felt somewhat astonished, but received me with the
greatest _bonhomie_ invited me to make myself at home, and promised
to make all possible haste to comply with my wishes. Nevertheless he
proceeded with the greatest deliberation to rise from his couch and
put himself into shape for the street and prepare his breakfast, which
consisted of a cup of strong coffee brewed in a steam-tight French
machine, then a novelty, and also insisted upon treating me with a cup.
We made no extra haste on our way to the office, which we reached about
half-past ten--an hour and a half after time. I did not repeat the
experiment."

Lindenkohl said that Whistler spoke of Paris with enthusiasm, that
he sketched sometimes from the office windows, and made studies of
people, taking the greatest interest in the arrangement and folds of
their clothes. Whistler showed him "several examples done with the
brush in sepia, in old French or Spanish styles," whatever this may
mean. Mr. Key describes Whistler as "painfully near-sighted," and
always sketching, even on the walls as he went downstairs. Though
in Washington only a few months, he left the impression of his
indifference to work except in the one form in which work interested
him--his art.

If nothing else were known of this period, it would be memorable for
the technical instruction he received in the Coast Survey. His work
was the drawing and etching of Government topographical plans and
maps, which have to be made with the utmost accuracy and sharpness of
line. His training, therefore, was in the hardest and most perfect
school of etching in the world, a fact never until now pointed out. The
work was dull, mechanical, and he sometimes relieved the dullness by
filling empty spaces on the plates with sketches. Captain Benham told
him plainly, Whistler said, that he was not there to spoil Government
coppers, and ordered all the designs to be immediately erased. This
was Whistler's account to us. But Mr. Key, in his _Recollections of
Whistler_, published in the _Century Magazine_ (April 1908), says
that these sketches were confined to the experimental plate given to
Whistler, as to all beginners, and he adds that he watched Whistler
through the process of preparing and etching it.

Only two plates have been as yet, or probably ever will be, found in
the office that can be attributed, wholly or in part, to Whistler: the
_Coast Survey, No. 1_, and _Coast Survey, No. 2_, _Anacapa Island_,
first described in the _Catalogue of the Whistler Memorial Exhibition_
in London, 1905. The _Coast Survey, No. 1_, is a plate giving two
parallel views, one above the other, of the coast-line of a rocky
shore, the lower showing a small town in a deep bay with, below them
both to the extreme left, a profile map. Whistler was unable to confine
himself to the Government requirements. In the lower design, chimneys
are gaily smoking, and on the upper part of the plate several figures,
obviously reminiscent of prints and drawings, are sketched: an old
peasant woman; a man in a tall Italian hat, or, Mr. Key says, Whistler
himself as a Spanish hidalgo; another in a Sicilian bonnet; a mother
and child in an oval, meant for Mrs. Partington and Ike, as Mr. Key
remembers; a battered French soldier; a bearded monk in a cowl. The
drawing is schoolboy-like, though it shows certain observation, but
the biting is remarkable. The little figures are bitten as well and in
the same way as _La Vieille aux Loques_, etched three or four years
afterwards; to look at them is to know that Whistler was a consummate
etcher technically before he left the Coast Survey. There is no advance
in the biting of the French series. So astonishing is this mastery
that, if the technique in some of the French plates were not similar,
one would be tempted to doubt whether Whistler etched those little
figures in Washington, especially as the plate is unsigned. The plate
escaped by chance. Mr. Key, to whom it was given to clean off and use
again, asked to keep it, and it was sold to him for the price of old
copper. It is still in existence.

The second plate, _Anacapa Island_, is signed with several names.
Whistler etched the view of the eastern extremity of the island,
for many lines on the rocky shore resemble the work in the French
series, and also the two flights of birds which, though they enliven
the design, have no topographical value. This plate was finished and
published in the Report of the Superintendent of the Coast Survey,
1855. There is said to be a third plate, a chart of the Delaware River,
but we have never seen it and can find out nothing about it.

One other record of Whistler at the Coast Survey remains, but of a
different kind. He liked to tell the story. Captain Benham used to come
and look through the small magnifying glass each draughtsman in this
department had to work with. One day, Whistler etched a little devil on
the glass, and Captain Benham looked through it at the plate. Whistler
described himself to us, lying full length on a sort of mattress or
trestle, so as not to touch the copper. But he saw Captain Benham give
a jump. The captain said nothing. He pocketed the glass, and that
was all Whistler heard of it until many years afterwards, when, one
day, an old gentleman appeared at his studio in Paris, and by way of
introduction took from his watch-chain a tiny magnifying glass, and
asked Whistler to look through it--"and," he said, "well--we recognised
each other perfectly."

Captain Benham is dead, but his son, Major H. H. Benham, writes us: "I
have heard my father tell the story. He was very fond of Whistler, and
thought most highly of his great ability--or rather genius, I should
say."

Genius like Whistler's served him as little at the Coast Survey as at
West Point. He resigned in February 1855. His brother, George Whistler,
and Mr. Winans tried again to make him enter the locomotive works in
Baltimore. He was twenty-one, old enough to insist upon what he wanted;
and what he wanted was to study art. Already at St. Petersburg his
ability had struck his mother's friends. At Pomfret and West Point he
owed to his drawing whatever distinction he had attained. And there had
been things done outside of school and Academy and office work, he told
us--"portraits of my cousin Annie Denny and of Tom Winans, and many
paintings at Stonington that Stonington people remembered so well they
looked me up in Paris afterwards. Indeed, all the while, ever since my
Russian days, there had been always the thought of art, and when at
last I told the family that I was going to Paris, they said nothing.
There was no difficulty. They just got me a ticket. I was to have three
hundred and fifty dollars (seventy pounds) a year, and my stepbrother,
George Whistler, who was one of my guardians, sent it to me after that
every quarter."



CHAPTER VI: STUDENT DAYS IN THE LATIN QUARTER. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN
FIFTY-FIVE TO EIGHTEEN FIFTY-NINE.


Whistler arrived in Paris in the summer of 1855. There he fell among
friends. The American Legation was open to the son of Major Whistler.
It was the year of the first International Exhibition, and Sir Henry
Cole, the British Commissioner, the Thackerays, and the Hadens were
there. Lady Ritchie (Miss Thackeray) writes:

"I wish I had a great deal more to tell you about Whistler. I always
enjoyed talking to him when we were both hobbledehoys at Paris; he
used to ask me to dance, and rather to my disappointment perhaps, for,
much as I liked talking to him, I preferred dancing, we used to stand
out while the rest of the party polkaed and waltzed by There was a
certain definite authority in the things he said, even as a boy. I
can't remember what they were, but I somehow realised that what he said
mattered. When I heard afterwards of his fanciful freaks and quirks, I
could not fit them in with my impression of the wise young oracle of my
own age."

George Whistler wanted him to go to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but
there is no record of his having been admitted. He went instead to
the studio Gleyre inherited from Delaroche and handed on to Gérôme,
which drew to it all the students who did not crowd to Couture and Ary
Scheffer. It was not extraordinary, as some have said, that Whistler
should have gone there; it would have been extraordinary had he stayed
away. He arrived in Paris when Courbet, slighted at the International,
was defying convention with his first show and his first "Manifesto,"
and many of the younger men were throwing over Romanticism for
Realism. Whistler found himself more in sympathy with the followers
of Courbet than with Gleyre's pupils, and he became so intimate with
the group, among whom were Fantin and Degas, who studied under Lecocq
de Boisbaudran, that it is sometimes thought he must have worked in
that school. But on his arrival in Paris the young American had heard
neither of Lecocq de Boisbaudran nor Courbet, and Gleyre was the
popular teacher. Fantin-Latour and M. Duret both have said that they
seldom heard Whistler speak of Gleyre's. When we asked him about it,
he only recalled the dignified principles upon which it was conducted.
There was not even the case of the _nouveau_ "If a man was a decent
fellow, and would sing his song, and take a little chaff, he had no
trouble." Whistler could remember only one disagreeable incident, in
connection, not with a _nouveau_, but an unpopular student who had been
there some time and put on airs. One morning, Whistler told us, he came
to the studio late, "and there were all the students working away very
hard, the unpopular one among them, and there, at the end of the room,
on the model's stand was an enormous catafalque, the unpopular one's
name on it in big letters. And no one said a word. But that killed him.
He was never again seen in the place."

Gleyre was by no means colourless as a teacher. He is remembered as
the successor of David and the Classicists, but he held theories
disquieting to academic minds. He taught that before a picture was
begun the colours should be arranged on the palette: in this way,
he said, difficulties were overcome, for attention could be given
solely to the drawing and modelling on canvas in colour. He taught
also that ivory-black is the base of tone. Upon this preparation
of the palette and this base of black--upon black, "the universal
harmoniser"--Whistler founded his practice as painter, and as teacher
when he visited the pupils of the _Académie Carmen_.[1] As he has told
us over and over again, his practice of a lifetime was derived from
what he learned in the schools, and the master's methods he never
abandoned. He only developed methods, misunderstood by those British
prophets who have said he had but enough knowledge for his own needs.

Whistler spoke often to us of the men he met at Gleyre's: Poynter,
Du Maurier, Lamont, Joseph Rowley. Leighton, in 1855, was studying
at Couture's, developing his theory that "the best dodge is to be a
devil of a clever fellow," and Mrs. Barrington says he made Whistler's
acquaintance at the time and admired Whistler's etchings. But Whistler
never recalled Leighton among his fellow students, though he spoke
often with affection of Thomas Armstrong, who worked at Ary Scheffer's,
and Aleco Ionides, not an art student but studying, no one seemed to
know what or where. This is the group in Du Maurier's novel of Paris
student life, _Trilby_. It is regrettable that Du Maurier cherished his
petty spite against Whistler for twenty-five years and then printed it,
and so wrecked what Whistler imagined a genuine friendship. Lamont,
"the Laird," Rowley, the "Taffy," Aleco Ionides, "the Greek," and
Thomas Armstrong are dead. Sir Edward J. Poynter remains, and also
Mr. Luke Ionides, who was then often in Paris. He has given us his
impressions of Whistler at the time:

"I first knew Jimmie Whistler in the month of August 1855. My younger
brother was with a tutor, and had made friends with Jimmie. He was
just twenty-one years old, full of life and go, always ready for fun,
good-natured and good-tempered. He wore a peculiar straw hat, slightly
on the side of his head--it had a low crown and a broad brim."

Whistler etched himself in this hat, which startled even artists and
students, and became a legend in the Latin Quarter.

Mr. Rowley wrote us: "It was in 1857-8 that I knew Whistler,
and a most amusing and eccentric fellow he was, with his long, black,
thick, curly hair, and large felt hat with a broad black ribbon round
it. I remember on the wall of the _atelier_ was a representation of
him, I believe done by Du Maurier, a sketch of him, then a fainter one,
and then merely a note of interrogation--very clever it was and very
like the original. In those days he did not work hard, and I have a
faint recollection of seeing a head painted by him in deep Rembrandtish
tones which was thought very good indeed. He was always smoking
cigarettes, which he made himself, and his droll sayings caused us no
end of fun. I don't think he stayed long in any rooms. One day he told
us he had taken a new one, and he was fitting it up _peu à peu_ and he
had already got a _tabouret_ and a chair. He told me tales of being
invited to a reception at the American Minister's, but, as he had no
dress suit to go in, he had to borrow Poynter's, who fitted him out,
all except his boots. So he waited until the guests at the hotel had
retired, when he went round the corridors, found what he wanted, and
left them at the door on his return. It was more his manner and the
clever way he told the tale that amused us.... I have his first twelve
etchings, which he did in 1858. I never saw him after I left Paris that
year. He was never a friend of mine, and it was only occasionally he
came to see us at the _atelier_ in Notre-Dame-des-Champs."

Whistler was intimate for awhile with Sir Edward J. Poynter, who
scarcely seems to have understood him. To Poynter Whistler was the
"Idle Apprentice." In his speech at the first Royal Academy Banquet
(April 30, 1904) after Whistler's death, Poynter said: "Thrown very
intimately in Whistler's company in early days, I knew him well when he
was a student in Paris--that is, if he could be called a student, who,
to my knowledge, during the two or three years when I was associated
with him, devoted hardly as many weeks to study. His genius, however,
found its way in spite of an excess of the natural indolence of
disposition and love of pleasure of which a certain share has been the
hereditary attribute of the art student." And this bit of insolence was
the final tribute to his memory paid by British Official Art.

"Whistler was never wholly one of us," Armstrong told us. Whistler
laughed at the Englishmen and their ways, above all at the boxing and
sparring matches in their studios; "he could not see why they didn't
hire the _concierges_ to do their fighting for them." But he understood
the French, and they understood him. He could speak their language, he
knew Murger by heart before he came to Paris, and there got to know
him personally. Mr. Ionides says that once, on the _rive gauche_, they
met Murger, and Whistler introduced him. Whistler delighted in the
humour and picturesqueness of it, and was always quoting Murger. The
Englishmen at Gleyre's were puzzled by him and his "no shirt friends"
as he called one group of students. Every now and then they palled,
even on him, and he would then tell the Englishmen that he "must give
up the 'no shirt' set and begin to live cleanly." The end came when,
during an absence from Paris, he lent them his room, luxurious from
the student standpoint, with a tin bath and blue china. The "no shirt
friends" could not change their habits with their surroundings. They
made grogs in the bath; they never washed a plate, but when one side
was dirty, ate off the other, and Whistler had not bargained to make
his room the background for a new chapter in the _Vie de Bohèm_. But
this was later, after his adventures with them had been the gossip
of the Quarter, and had confirmed the diligent English in their
impressions of his idleness.

Among the French he made friends: Aubert, the first man he knew in
Paris, a clerk in the Crédit Fonder; Fantin; Legros; Becquet, a
musician; Henri Martin, son of the historian; Drouet, the sculptor;
Henry Oulevey and Ernest Delannoy, painters. From Fantin we have
notes made just before his death. Legros prefers to remember nothing,
the friendship in his case ending many years ago. Drouet and Oulevey
have told us almost as much as Whistler did of those days. When
Oulevey first knew him, Whistler lived in a little hotel in the Rue
St. Sulpice; then he moved to No. 1 Rue Bourbon-le-Château, near St.
Germain-des-Prés; and then to No. 3 Rue Campagne-Première, where Drouet
had a studio. When remittances ran out, he climbed six flights and
shared a garret with Delannoy, the Ernest of the stories Whistler liked
best to tell.

Mr. Miles writes us that he came to Paris in May 1857, with letters
from Whistler's family and a draft for him: "At the Beaux-Arts he was
not to be found, but I got his address. He had gone from that. I was
in despair, but went to the Luxembourg, hoping to find some trace of
him. In looking at a picture, I backed into an easel, heard a muttered
damn behind me--and there was Whistler painting busily. He took me
to his quarters in a little back street, up ten flights of stairs--a
tiny room with a brick floor, a cot bed, a chair on which were a
basin and pitcher--and that was all! We sat on the cot and talked as
cheerfully as if in a palace--and he got the draft. 'Now,' said he,
'I shall move downstairs, and begin all over again--furnish my room
comfortably. You see, I have just eaten my washstand and borrowed a
little, hoping the draft would arrive. Have been living for some time
on my wardrobe. You are just in time; don't know what I should have
done, but it often happens this way! I first eat a wardrobe, and then
move upstairs a flight or two, but seldom get so high as this before
the draft comes!' How true this is I can't say, but it sounds probable
and very like Whistler at that age--he was then about twenty-three or
just twenty-four at most--May 1857. Then Whistler showed me Paris: I
met some of his painter friends. I remember only Lambert (French) and
Poynter (English)--now a great swell. Whistler didn't care much for
Poynter at that time, but was witty and amusing, as usual. He dined
with me at the best restaurant in Paris, which he had not done for a
long time, and dined me, the next day, at a little _crémerie_ to show
what his usual fare had been, and, indeed, usually was when the time
was approaching for the arrival of his allowance."

The restaurant to which Whistler and his friends usually went was
Lalouette's, famous for a wonderful Burgundy at one franc the bottle,
_le cachet vert_, ordered on great occasions, and more famous now
for _Bibi Lalouette_, the subject of the etching, the child of the
_patron_. Lalouette, like Siron at Barbizon, understood artists,
and gave credit. Whistler, when he left Paris, owed Lalouette three
thousand francs, every _sou_ of which was paid, though it took a long
time. Today, unfortunately, such debts are not always discharged, and
the charming system of other days exists no longer. They also dined
at Madame Bachimont's in the Place de la Sorbonne, a _crémerie_,
where Whistler once gave a dinner to the American Consul, and invited
"_Canichon_," the daughter of the house, and bought her a new hat for
the occasion--a tremendous sensation through the Quarter.

Drouet did not think that Whistler worked much. "He was every evening
at the students' balls, and never got up until eleven or twelve in the
morning, so where was the time for work?" Oulevey cannot remember his
doing much at Gleyre's, or in the Luxembourg, or at the Louvre, but he
was always drawing the people and the scenes of the Quarter. In the
memory of both his work is overshadowed by his gaiety and his wit, his
_blague_, his charm: "_tout à fait un homme à part_," is Oulevey's
phrase, with "_un coeur de femme et une volonté d'homme_." Anything
might be expected of him, and Drouet added that he was quick to resent
an insult, always "_un petit rageur_." George Boughton, of a younger
generation, when he came to the Quarter, found that all stories of
larks were put down to Whistler. Mr. Luke Ionides writes:

"He was a great favourite among us all, and also among the _grisettes_
we used to meet at the gardens where dancing went on. I remember one
especially--they called her the _Tigresse_. She seemed madly in love
with Jimmie and would not allow any other woman to talk to him when
she was present. She sat to him several times with her curly hair down
her back. She had a good voice, and I often thought she had suggested
Trilby to Du Maurier."

She was the model for _Fumette_, Eloise, a little _modiste_, who knew
Musset by heart and recited his verses to Whistler, and who one day
in a rage tore up, not his etchings as Mr. Wedmore says, as often,
wrongly, but his drawings. Whistler was living in the Rue St. Sulpice,
and the day he came home and found the pieces piled high on the table
he wept.

Another figure was _La Mère Gérard_. She was old and almost blind,
was said to have written verse, and so come down in the world. She
sold violets and matches at the gate of the Luxembourg. She was very
paintable as she sat huddled up on the steps, and he got her to pose
for him many times. She said she had a tapeworm, and if in the studio
he asked her what she would eat or drink, her answer was, "_Du lait:
il aimé ça!_" They used to chaff him about her in the Quarter. Once,
Lalouette invited all his clients to spend a day in the country, and
Whistler accepted on condition that he could bring _La Mère Gérard_.
She arrived, got up in style, sat at his side in the carriage in which
they all drove off, and grew livelier as the day went on. He painted
her in the afternoon: the portrait a success, he promised it to her,
but first took it back to the studio to finish. Then he fell ill and
was sent to England. When he returned and saw the portrait again, he
thought it too good for _La Mère Gérard_. He made a copy for the old
lady, who saw the difference and was furious. Not long after he was
walking past the Luxembourg with Lamont. The old woman, huddled on the
steps, did not look up:

"_Eh bien, Madame Gérard, comment ça va?_" Lamont asked.

"_Assez bien, Monsieur, assez bien._"

"_It votre petit Américain?_"

To which she replied, not looking up, "_Lui? On dit qu'il a craqué!
Encore une espèce de canaille de moins!_"

And Whistler laughed, and she knew him, as so many were to know him, by
that laugh all his life.

For ages after, in the Quarter, he was called "_Espèce de canaille_."
And this is where Du Maurier got the story which he tells in
_Trilby_--as he got all _Trilby_, in fact.

Another character in the Quarter of whom Whistler never tired of
telling us was the Count de Montezuma, the delightful, inimitable,
impossible, incredible Montezuma, not a student, not a painter, but one
after Whistler's heart. He never had a _sou_, but always cheek enough
to see him through. Whistler told us of him:

"This is the sort of thing he would do, and with an air--amazing! He
started one day for Charenton on the steamboat, his pockets, as usual,
empty, and he was there for as long as he could stay. The boat broke
down, a _sergent de ville_ came on board and ordered everybody off
except the captain and his family, who happened to be with him. The
Montezuma paid no attention. With arms crossed, he walked up and down,
looking at no one. They waited, but he walked on, up and down, up and
down, looking at no one. The _sergent de ville_ repeated, '_Tout le
monde à terre!_' The Montezuma gave no sign. '_Et vous?_' the _sergent
de ville_ asked at last. '_Je suis de la famille!_' said the Montezuma.
Opposite, staring at him, stood the captain with his wife and children.
'You see,' said the _sergent de ville_, 'the captain does not know
you, he says you are not of the family. You must go.' '_Moi,_' and the
Montezuma drew himself up proudly, '_Moi! je suis le bâtard!_'"

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF WHISTLER

ETCHING. G. 54

(_See page 50_)]

[Illustration: SKETCHES OF THE JOURNEY TO ALSACE

PEN DRAWINGS

(_See page 44_)]

Though he was frequently hard up, Whistler's income seemed princely to
students who lived on nothing. When there was money in his pockets,
Mr. Ionides says, he spent it royally on others. When his pockets
were empty, he managed to refill them in a way that still amazes
Oulevey, who told us of the night when, after the _café_ where they had
squandered their last _sous_ on kirsch had closed, he and Lambert and
Whistler adjourned to the Halles for supper, ordered the best, and ate
it. Then he and Lambert stayed in the restaurant as hostages, while
Whistler, at dawn, went off to find the money. He was back when they
awoke, with three or four hundred francs in his pocket. He had been to
see an American friend, he said, a painter: "And do you know, he had
the bad manners to abuse the situation; he insisted on my looking at
his pictures!"

There were times when everybody failed, even Mr. Lucas, George
Whistler's friend, who was living in Paris and often came to his
rescue. One summer day he pawned his coat when he was penniless and
wanted an iced drink in a _buvette_ across the way from his rooms in
Rue Bourbon-le-Château. "What would you?" he said. "It is warm!" And
for the next two or three days he went in shirt-sleeves. From Mr.
Ionides we have heard how Whistler and Ernest Delannoy carried their
straw mattresses to the nearest _Mont-de-Piété_, stumbling up three
flights of stairs under them, and were refused an advance by the man at
the window. "_C'est bien_," said Ernest with his grandest air. "_C'est
bien. J'enverrai un commissionnaire!_" And they dropped the mattresses
and walked out with difficulty, to go bedless home. Then there was a
bootmaker to whom Whistler owed money, and who appeared with his bill,
refusing to move unless he was paid. Whistler was courtesy itself, and,
regretting his momentary embarrassment, begged the bootmaker to accept
an engraving of Garibaldi, which he ventured to admire. The bootmaker
was so charmed that he spoke no more of his bill, but took another
order on the spot, and made new shoes into the bargain.

Many of the things told of Whistler he used to tell us of Ernest or
the others. Ernest he said it was, though some say it was Whistler,
who had a commission to copy in the Louvre, but no canvas, paints, or
brushes, and not a _sou_ to buy them with. However, he went to the
gallery in the morning, the first to arrive, and his businesslike air
disarmed the _gardien_ as he picked out an easel, a clean canvas, a
palette, a brush or two, and a stick of charcoal. He wrote his name in
large letters on the back of the canvas, and, when the others began to
drop in, was too busy to see anything but his work. Presently there
was a row. What! an easel missing, a canvas gone, brushes not to be
found! The _gardien_ bustled round. Everybody talked at once. Ernest
looked up in a fury--shameful! Why should he be disturbed? What was it
all about, anyhow? When he heard what had happened no one was louder.
It had come to a pretty pass in the Louvre when you couldn't leave
your belongings overnight without having them stolen! Things at last
quieted down. Ernest finished his charcoal sketch, but his palette was
bare. He stretched, jumped down from his high stool, strolled about,
stopped to criticise here, to praise there, until he saw the colours he
needed. The copy of the man who owned them ravished him. Astonishing!
He stepped back to see it better. He advanced to look at the original,
he grew excited, he gesticulated. The man, who had never been noticed
before, grew excited too. Ernest talked the faster, gesticulated the
more, until down came his thumb on the white or the blue or the red he
wanted, and, with another sweep of his arm, a lump of it was on his
palette. Farther on another supply offered. In the end, his palette
well set, he went back to his easel, painting his copy. In some way he
had supplied himself most plentifully with "turps," so that several
times the picture was in danger of running off his canvas. At last it
was finished and shown to his patron, who refused to have it. Whistler
succeeded in selling it for Ernest to a dealer; and, "Do you know," he
said, "I saw the picture years afterwards, and I think it was rather
better than the original!" Oulevey's version is that Whistler helped
himself to a box of colours, and, when discovered by its owner, was all
innocence and surprise and apology: why, he supposed, of course, the
boxes of colour were there for the benefit of students.

On another occasion, when Ernest, according to Whistler, had finished
a large copy of Veronese's _Marriage Feast at Cana_, he and a friend,
carrying it between them, started out to find a buyer. They crossed
the Seine and offered it for five hundred francs to the big dealers on
the right bank. Then they offered it for two hundred and fifty to the
little dealers on the left. Then they went back and offered it for
one hundred and twenty-five. Then they came across and offered it for
seventy-five. And back again for twenty-five, and over once more for
ten. And they were crossing still again, to try to get rid of it for
five, when, on the Pont des Arts, an idea: they lifted it; "_Un_," they
said with a great swing, "_deux, trois, v'lan!_" and over it went into
the river. There was a cry from the crowd, a rush to their side of the
bridge, _sergents de ville_ came running, omnibuses and cabs stopped on
both banks, boats pushed out. It was an immense success, and they went
home enchanted.

Ernest was Whistler's companion in the most wonderful adventure of all,
the journey to Alsace when most of the French Set of etchings were
made. Mr. Luke Ionides thinks it was in 1856. Fantin, who did not meet
Whistler until 1858, remembered him just back from a journey to the
Rhine, coming to the _Café Molière_, and showing the etchings made on
the way. The French Set was published in November of that year, and
if Whistler returned late in the autumn, the series could scarcely
have appeared so soon. However, more important than the date is the
fact that on his journey the _Liverdun_, the _Street at Saverne_, and
_The Kitchen_ were etched. He had made somehow two hundred and fifty
francs, and he and Ernest started out for Nancy and Strasburg. Mr. Leon
Dabo tells us that his father was a fellow student of Whistler's at
Gleyre's and lived at Saverne, in Alsace, and that it was to see him
Whistler went there. And from Mr. Dabo we have the story of excursions
that Whistler and Ernest made with his father and several friends:
one to the ruins of the castle near the village of Dabo, where it is
said their signatures may still be seen on a rock of brown sandstone;
another to Gross Geroldseck, and the sketches Whistler made there were
afterwards presented to the Saverne Museum. It may be that a third
excursion was to Pfalzburg, the birthplace of Erckmann and Chatrian,
whom Whistler knew and possibly then met for the first time.

On the way back, at Cologne, one morning, Whistler and Ernest woke up
to find their money gone. "What is to be done?" asked Ernest. "Order
breakfast," said Whistler, which they did. There was no American Consul
in the town, and after breakfast he wrote to everybody who might help
him: to a fellow student he had asked to forward letters from Paris,
to Seymour Haden in London, to Amsterdam, where he thought letters
might have been sent by mistake. Then they settled down to wait.
Every day they would go to the post-office for letters, every day the
official would say, "_Nichts! Nichts!_" until they got known to the
town--Whistler with his long hair, Ernest with his brown hollands and
straw hat fearfully out of season. The boys of the town would follow to
the post-office, where, before they were at the door, the official was
shaking his head and saying "_Nichts! Nichts!_" and all the crowd would
yell, "_Nichts! Nichts!_" At last, to escape attention, they spent
their days sitting on the ramparts.

At the end of a fortnight Whistler took his knapsack, put his plates
in it, and carried it to the landlord, Herr Schmitz, whose daughter,
Little Gretchen he had etched--probably the plate called _Gretchen at
Heidelberg_. He said he was penniless, but here were his copper-plates
in his knapsack upon which he would set his seal. What was to be done
with copper-plates? the landlord asked. They were to be kept with the
greatest care as the work of a distinguished artist, Whistler answered,
and when he was back in Paris, he would send the money to pay his
bill, and then the landlord would send him the knapsack. Herr Schmitz
hesitated, while Whistler and Ernest were in despair over the necessity
of trusting masterpieces to him. The bargain was struck after much
talk. The landlord gave them a last breakfast. Lina, the maid, slipped
her last groschen into Whistler's hand, and the two set out to walk
from Cologne to Paris with paper and pencils for baggage.

Whistler used to say that, had they been less young, they could have
seen only the terror of that tramp. A portrait was the price of every
plate of soup, every egg, every glass of milk on the road. The children
who hooted them had to be drawn before a bit of bread was given to
them. They slept in straw. And they walked until Whistler's light shoes
got rid of most of their soles and bits of their uppers, and Ernest's
hollands grew seedier and seedier. But they were young enough to laugh,
and one day Whistler, seeing Ernest tramping ahead solemnly through
the mud, the rain dripping from his straw hat, his linen coat a rag,
shrieked with laughter as he limped. "_Que voulez-vous?_" Ernest said
mournfully, "_les saisons m'ont toujours devancé_!" But it was the time
of the autumn fairs, and, joining a lady who played the violin and
a gentleman who played the harp, they gave entertainments in every
village, beating a big drum, announcing themselves as distinguished
artists from Paris, offering to draw portraits, five francs the full
length, three francs the half-length. At times they beat the big drum
in vain, and Whistler was reduced to charging five sous apiece for his
portraits, but he did his best, he said, and there was not a drawing to
be ashamed of.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF WHISTLER IN THE BIG HAT

OIL

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 52_)]

[Illustration: DROUET

ETCHING. G. 55

(_See page 49_)]

At last they came to Aix, where there was an American Consul who knew
Major Whistler, and advanced fifty francs to his son. At Liège, poor,
shivering, ragged Ernest got twenty from the French Consul, and the
rest of the journey was made in comfort. On his return, Whistler's
first appearance at the _Café Molière_ was a triumph. They had thought
him dead, and here he was, _le petit Américain_! And what _blague_,
what calling for coffee _pour le petit Whistler, pour notre petit
Américain_! And what songs!

"_Car il n'est pas mort, larifla! fla! fla!
      Non, c'est qu'il dort.
Pour le réveiller, trinquons nos verres!
Pour le réveiller, trinquons encore!_"

That Herr Schmitz was paid and delivered up the plates the prints are
the proof. Some years after Whistler went back to Cologne with his
mother. In the evening he slipped away to the old, little hotel, where
the landlord and the landlord's daughter, grown up, recognised him and
rejoiced.

These stories, and hundreds like them, still float about the Quarter,
told not only by Whistler, but by _les vieux_, who shake their heads
over the present degeneracy of students and the tameness of student
life--stories of the clay model of the heroic statue of Géricault,
left, for want of money, swathed in rags, and sprinkled every morning
until at last even the rags had to be sold, and then, when they were
taken off, Géricault had sprouted with mushrooms that paid for a
feast in the Quarter and enough clay to finish the statue: stories
of a painter, in his empty studio, hiring a piano by the month that
the landlord might see it carried upstairs and get a new idea of his
tenant's assets; stories of the monkey tied to a string, let loose in
other people's larders, then pulled back, clasping loaves of bread and
bottles of wine to its bosom; stories of students, with bedclothes
pawned, sleeping in chests of drawers to keep warm; stories of
Courbet's _Baigneuse_ in wonderful Highland costume at the students'
balls; stories of practical jokes at the Louvre. It was the day of
practical jokes, _les charges_: and Courbet, whom they worshipped, was
the biggest _blageur_ of them all, eventually signing his death-warrant
with that last terrible _charge_, the fall of the Column Vendôme, which
Paris never forgave.

In this atmosphere, Whistler's spirit, so alarming to his mother, found
stimulus, and it is not to be wondered if his gaiety struck everyone in
Paris as in St. Petersburg and Pomfret, West Point and Washington.

[Footnote 1: See Chapter XLIV.]



CHAPTER VII: WORKING DAYS IN THE LATIN QUARTER. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN
FIFTY-FIVE TO EIGHTEEN FIFTY-NINE CONTINUED.


The stories cannot be left out of Whistler's life as a student, for
they lived in his memory. The English students brought back the
impression that he was an idler, the French thought so too, and the
English believe to-day that he was an idler always. And yet he worked
in Paris as much as he played. His convictions, his preferences, his
prejudices, were formed during those years. His admiration for Poe, a
West Point man, was strengthened by the hold Poe had taken of French
men of letters. His disdain of nature, his contempt for anecdote
in art as a concession to the ignorant public, his translation of
the subjects of painting into musical terms, and much else charged
against him as deliberate pose, can be traced to Baudelaire. It is
incomprehensible how he found time to read while a student, and yet
he knew the literature of the day. With artists and their movements
he was more familiar. He mastered all that Gleyre could teach on the
one hand, Courbet on the other. He came under the influence of Lecocq
de Boisbaudran, who was occupied with the study of values, effects of
night, and training of memory. It is absurd for anyone to say that
Whistler idled away his four full years in Paris.

The younger men in their rebellion against official art were not so
foolish as to disdain the Old Masters. They went to the Louvre to
learn how to use their eyes and their hands. There they copied the
pictures, and there they met each other. To Whistler the Frenchmen were
more sympathetic than the English, and he joined them at the Louvre.
Respect for the great traditions of art always was his standard: "What
is not worthy of the Louvre is not art," he said. Rembrandt, Hals,
and Velasquez were the masters by whom he was influenced. There are
only a few pictures by Velasquez in the Louvre, and Whistler's early
appreciation of him has been a puzzle to some, who, to account for
it, have credited him with a journey when a student to Madrid. But
that journey was not made in the fifties or ever, though he planned it
more than once. A great deal could be learned about Velasquez without
going to Spain. Whistler knew the London galleries, and in 1857 he
visited the Art Treasures Exhibition at Manchester, taking Henri Martin
with him. There was a difficulty about the money for their railway
fares, and he suggested to T. Armstrong that he might borrow it from
a friend of the family who was manager of the North-Western. "But
have you paid him the three hundred francs he has already lent you?"
Armstrong asked. "Why, no," Whistler answered; "ought that to make
any difference?" And he consulted the friend as to whether it would
not be the right thing to ask for another loan. From this friend, or
somebody, he managed to get the money, and Miss Emily Chapman finds
in her diaries, which she has consulted for us, that on September 11,
1857, Rose, her sister, "went to Darwen and found Whistler and Henri
Martin staying at Earnsdale" with another sister, Mrs. Potter; "a merry
evening," the note finishes. Fourteen fine examples of Velasquez were
in the Manchester Exhibition, lent from private collections in England,
among them the _Venus_, _Admiral Pulido Pareja_, _Duke Olivarez on
Horseback_, _Don Balthazar in the Tennis Court_, some of them now in
the British National Gallery.

Whistler once described himself to us as "a surprising youth, suddenly
appearing in the group of French students from no one knew where,
with my _Mère Gérard_ and the _Piano Picture_ [_At the Piano_] for
introduction, and making friends with Fantin and Legros, who had
already arrived, and Courbet, whom they were all raving about, and who
was very kind to me."

The _Piano Picture_ was painted toward the end of his student years
in Paris, the _Mère Gérard_ a little earlier, so that this agrees with
Fantin's notes. In 1858, Fantin says, "I was copying the _Marriage
Feast at Cana_ in the Louvre when I saw passing one day a strange
creature--_personnage étrange, le Whistler en chapeau bizarre_, who,
amiable and charming, stopped to talk, and the talk was the beginning
of our friendship, strengthened that evening at the _Café Molière_."

Carolus Duran writes us, from the Académie de France in Rome, that he
and Whistler met as students in Paris; after that he lost sight of
Whistler until the days of the new _Salon_, but, though there were a
few meetings then, his memories are altogether of the student years.
Bracquemond has recalled for us that he was making the preliminary
drawing for his etching after Holbein's _Erasmus_ in the Louvre when
he first saw Whistler. Their meetings were cordial, but never led to
intimacy. With Legros Whistler's friendship did become intimate, and
the two, with Fantin, formed at that date what Whistler called their
"Society of Three."

Fantin was somewhat older, and had been studying much longer, and had,
among students, a reputation for wide and sound knowledge: "a learned
painter," Armstrong says. M. Bénédite thinks that the friendship was
useful to Fantin, but of the greatest importance to Whistler, on whose
art in its development it had a marked influence. Mr. Luke Ionides,
on the other hand, insists that "even in those early days, Whistler's
influence was very much felt. He had decided views, which were always
listened to with respect and regard by many older artists, who
seemed to recognise his genius." The truth probably is that Whistler
and Fantin influenced each other. They worked in sympathy, and the
understanding between them was complete. They not only studied in the
Louvre, but joined the group at Bonvin's studio to work from the model
under Courbet.

With Courbet, we come to an influence which cannot be doubted, much
as Whistler regretted it as time went on. Oulevey remembers Whistler
calling on Courbet once, and saying enthusiastically as he left the
house, "_C'est un grand homme!_" and for several years his pictures
showed how strong this influence was. M. Duret even sees in Courbet's
"Manifestoes" forerunners of Whistler's letters at a later date to
the papers. Courbet, whatever mad pranks he might play with the
_bourgeois_, was seriousness itself in his art, and the men who studied
under him learned to be serious, Whistler most of all.

The proof of Whistler's industry is in his work--in his pictures and
prints, which are amazing in quality and quantity for the student who,
Sir Edward Poynter believes, worked in two or three years only as
many weeks. It would be nearer the truth to say that he never stopped
working. Everything that interested him he made use of. The women he
danced with at night were his models by day: Fumette, who, as she
crouches, her hair loose on her shoulders, in that early etching, looks
the _Tigresse_ who tore up his drawings in a passion; and Finette,
the dancer in a famous quadrille, who, when she came to London, was
announced as "_Madame Finette in the cancan, the national dance of
France_." His friends had to pose for him: Drouet, in the plate, done,
he told us, in two sittings, one of two and a half hours, the other
of an hour and a half; Axenfeld, the brother of a famous physician;
Becquet, the sculptor-musician, "the greatest man who ever lived" to
his friends, to the world unknown; Astruc, painter, sculptor, poet,
editor of _L'Artiste_, of whom his wife said that he was the first
man since the Renaissance who combined all the arts, but who is only
remembered in Whistler's print; Delâtre, the printer; Riault, the
engraver. Bibi Valentin was the son of another engraver. And there is
the amusing pencil sketch of Fantin in bed on a winter day, working
away in his overcoat, muffler, and top hat, trying to keep warm: one
kept among a hundred lost. The streets where Whistler wandered, the
restaurants where he dined, became his studios. At the house near the
Rue Dauphine he etched Bibi Lalouette. His _Soupe à Trois Sous_ was
done in a _cabaret_ kept by Martin, whose portrait is in the print at
the extreme left, and who was famous in the Quarter for having won
the Cross of the Legion of Honour at an earlier age than any man ever
decorated, and then promptly losing it. Mr. Ralph Thomas says: "While
Whistler was etching this, at twelve o'clock at night, a _gendarme_
came up to him and wanted to know what he was doing. Whistler gave him
the plate upside down, but officialism could make nothing of it."

There is hardly one of these etchings that is not a record of his daily
life and of the people among whom he lived, though to make it such a
record was the last thing he was thinking of.

Whistler's first set of etchings was published in November 1858. The
prints were not the first he made after leaving Washington. On the rare
_Au Sixième_, supposed to be unique, Haden, to whom it had belonged,
wrote, "Probably the first of Whistler's etchings," but then Haden
wrote these things on others, and knew little about them. A portrait of
himself, another of his niece _Annie Haden_, the _Dutchman holding the
Glass_, are as early, if not earlier. There were twelve plates, some
done in Paris, some during the journey to the Rhine, some in London.
There was also an etched title with his portrait, for which Ernest,
putting on the big hat, sat. Etched above is "_Douze Eaux Fortes
d'après Nature par James Whistler_," and to one side, "_Imp. Delâtre,
Rue St. Jacques, 171, Paris, Nov. 1858_." Whistler dedicated the set
to _mon vieil ami Seymour Haden_, and issued and sold it himself for
two guineas. Delâtre printed the plates, and, standing at his side,
Drouet said, Whistler learned the art. Delâtre's shop was the room
described by the De Goncourts, with the two windows looking on a bare
garden, the star wheel, the man in grey blouse pulling it, the old
noisy clock in the corner, the sleeping dog, the children peeping in
at the door; the room where they waited for their first proof with the
emotion they thought nothing else could give. Drouet said that Whistler
never printed at this time. But Oulevey remembers a little press in
the Rue Campagne-Première, and Whistler pulling the proofs for those
who came to buy them. He was already hunting for old paper, loitering
at the boxes along the _quais_, tearing out fly-leaves from old books.
Passages in many plates of the series, especially in _La Mère Gérard_
and _La Marchande de Moutarde_, are, as we have said, like his work in
_The Coast Survey, No. 1_. For the only time, and as a result of his
training at Washington, his handling threatened to become mannered.
But in the _Street at Saverne_ he overcame his mannerism, while in
others, not in the series but done during these years, the _Drouet_,
_Soupe à Trois Sous_, _Bibi Lalouette_, he had perfected his early
style of drawing, biting, and dry-point. We never asked him how the
French plates were bitten, but, no doubt, it was in the traditional
way by biting all over and stopping out. They were drawn directly from
Nature, as can be seen in his portraits of places which are reversed
in the prints. So far as we know, he scarcely ever made a preliminary
sketch. We can recall none of his etchings at any period that might
have been done from memory or sketches, except the _Street at Saverne_,
the Venetian _Nocturnes_, the _Nocturne_, _Dance House_, Amsterdam,
_Weary_, and _Fanny Leyland_ portraits.

His first commissions in Paris were, he told us, copies made in the
Louvre. They were for Captain Williams, a Stonington man, familiarly
known as "Stonington Bill," whose portrait he had painted before
leaving home. "Stonington Bill" must have liked it, for when he came
to Paris shortly afterwards he gave Whistler a commission to paint as
many copies at the Louvre as he chose for twenty-five dollars apiece.
Whistler said he copied a snow scene with a horse and soldier standing
by and another at its feet, and never afterwards could remember who
was the painter; the busy picture detective may run it to ground for
the edification of posterity. There was a St. Luke with a halo and
draperies; a woman holding up a child towards a barred window beyond
which, seen dimly, was the face of a man; and an inundation, no doubt
_The Deluge_ or _The Wreck_. He was sure he must have made something
interesting out of them, he knew there were wonderful things even
then--the beginnings of harmonies and of purple schemes--he supposed it
must have been intuitive. Another Stonington man commissioned him to
paint Ingres' _Andromeda_ chained to the rock--probably the _Angelina_
of Ingres which he and Tissot are said to have copied side by side,
though a copy of an _Andromeda_ by him has been shown in New York,
and other alleged copies are now turning up. All, he said, might be
still at Stonington, and shown there as marvellous things by Whistler.
To these may be added the _Diana_ by Boucher in the London Memorial
Exhibition, owned by Mr. Louis Winans, and the group of cavaliers
after Velasquez, the one copy Fantin remembered his doing. A study of
a nun was sent to the London Exhibition, but not shown, with the name
"Wisler" on the back of the canvas, not a bad study of drapery, which
may have been, despite the name, another of his copies or done in a
sketch class.

The first original picture in Paris was, he assured us, the _Mère
Gérard_, in white cap, holding a flower, which he gave to Swinburne.
There is another painting of her, we believe, and from Drouet we heard
of a third, which has vanished. Whistler painted a number of portraits;
some it would probably be impossible to trace, a few are well known.
One--a difficult piece of work, he said--was of his father, after a
lithograph sent him for the purpose by his brother George, and he began
another of Henry Harrison, whom he had known in Russia. A third was
of himself in his big hat. Two were studies of models: the _Tête de
Paysanne_, a woman in a white cap, younger than the _Mère Gérard_, and
the _Head of an Old Man Smoking_, a pedlar of crockery whom Whistler
came across one day in the Halles, a full face with large brown hat,
for long the property of Drouet and left by him to the Louvre. But the
finest is _At the Piano_, _The Piano Picture_ as Whistler called it.
It is the portrait of his sister and his niece, the "wonderful little
Annie" of the etchings, now Mrs. Charles Thynne, who gave him many
sittings, and to whom, in return, he gave his pencil sketches made on
the journey to Alsace.

Mr. Gallatin, in _Portraits of Whistler_, and M. Duret, in the second
edition of _Whistler_, have reproduced an oil portrait entitled
_Whistler Smoking_, which was bought from a French family in 1913. The
most cursory glance at even the reproduction is enough to show that the
portrait is devoid of merit, while the statement that it was hidden
from 1860 to 1913 would require considerable further proof. The whole
thing is but a clumsy attempt to imitate the _Whistler in the Big Hat_,
as well as the etching of the same subject. Every part of it is stolen
from some other work, down to the hand or handkerchief, just indicated,
which is taken from the portrait of his mother. It is true that the
signature is on the painting, but this no longer proves anything, as a
signature is the easiest part of a work of art to forge.

The portraits "smell of the Louvre." The method is acquired from close
study of the Old Masters. "Rembrandtish" is the usual criticism passed
on these early canvases, with their paint laid thickly on and their
heavy shadows. Indeed, it is evident that his own portrait, _Whistler
in the Big Hat_, was suggested by Rembrandt's _Young Man_ in the
Louvre. To his choice of subjects, in his pictures as in his etchings,
he brought the realism of Courbet, painting people as he saw them, and
not in clothes borrowed from the classical and mediæval wardrobes of
the fashionable studio. Yet there is the personal note: Whistler does
not efface himself in his devotion to the masters. This is felt in
the way a head or a figure is placed on the canvas. The arrangement
of the pictures on the wall and the mouldings of the dado in _At the
Piano_, the harmonious balance of the black and white in the dresses of
the mother and the little girl, show the sense of design, of pattern,
which he brought to perfection in the _Mother_, _Carlyle_, and _Miss
Alexander_. There was nothing like it in the painting of the other
young men, of Degas, Fantin, Legros, Ribot, Manet; nothing like it in
the work of the older man, their leader, when painting _L'Enterrement à
Ornans_ and _Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet_. M. Duret says that Whistler's
fellow students, who had immediately recognised his etchings, now
accepted his paintings, which confirms Whistler's statement to us.

[Illustration: AT THE PIANO

OIL

In the possession of Edmund Davis, Esq.

(_See page 52_)]

[Illustration: WAPPING OIL

In the possession of Mrs. Hutton

(_See page 63_)]

_At the Piano_ was sent to the _Salon_ of 1859 with two etchings the
titles of which are not given. The etchings were hung, the picture was
rejected. It may have been because of what was personal in it; strong
personality in the young usually fares that way at official hands.
Fantin's story is:

"One day Whistler brought back from London the _Piano Picture_,
representing his sister and niece. He was refused with Legros, Ribot,
and myself at the _Salon_. Bonvin, whom I knew, interested himself in
our rejected pictures, and exhibited them in his studio, and invited
his friends, of whom Courbet was one, to see them. I recall very well
that Courbet was struck with Whistler's picture."

Two portraits by Fantin, some studies of still life by Ribot, and
Legros' portrait of his father, which had also been rejected, were
shown. The rejection was a scandal. The injustice was flagrant, the
exhibitors at Bonvin's found themselves famous, and Whistler's picture
impressed many artists besides Courbet. With its exhibition Whistler
ceased to be the student, though he was a student all his life; it was
only in his last years that he felt he was "beginning to understand,"
he often said to us.



CHAPTER VIII: THE BEGINNINGS IN LONDON. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-NINE
TO EIGHTEEN SIXTY-THREE.


It was now that Whistler began his endless journeys between Paris and
London. At first he stayed with his sister, Lady Haden, at 62 Sloane
Street, sometimes bringing with him Henri Martin or Legros. In 1859 he
invited Fantin, promising him glory and fortune. In his notes Fantin
wrote:

"Whistler talked about me at this moment to his brother-in-law, Seymour
Haden, who urged me to come to London; he had also talked about me to
Boxall. I should like it known that it was Whistler who introduced me
to England."

Fantin arrived in time for them to go to the Academy, then still in
the east end of the National Gallery. Whistler exhibited for the first
time, and _Two Etchings from Nature_--a perplexing title, for all his
etchings were "from Nature"--were hung in the little octagon room,
or "dark cell," reserved for black-and-white. "_Les souvenirs les
plus vifs que j'ai conservés de ce temps à Londres_," Fantin wrote
"_étaient notre admiration pour l'exposition des tableaux de Millais à
l'Academy_." Millais showed _The Vale of Rest_, and the two young men,
fresh from Paris studios, recognised in his work the realism which,
though conceived and expressed so differently, was the aim of the
Pre-Raphaelites as of Courbet.

Seymour Haden, who had already etched some of his finest plates, was
kind to his visitors. He not only ordered copies from Fantin--amongst
them one of the many Fantin made of Veronese's _Marriage Feast at
Cana_--but he bought the pictures of Legros, who was "at one moment in
so deplorable a condition," Whistler said to us, "that it needed God
or a lesser person to pull him out of it. And so I brought him over to
London, and for a while he worked in my studio. He had, before coming,
sold a church interior to Haden, who liked it, though he found the
floor out of perspective. One day he took it to the room upstairs where
he did his etchings, and turned the key. When it reappeared the floor
was in perspective according to Haden. A gorgeous frame was bought, and
the picture was hung conspicuously in the drawing-room."

Whistler thought Haden restive when he heard that Legros was coming,
but nothing was said. The first day Legros was impressed; he had
been accustomed to seeing himself in cheap frames, if in any frame
at all. But gradually he looked inside the frame, and Haden's work
dawned upon him. That he could not stand. What was he to do? he asked
Whistler. "Run off with it," Whistler suggested. "We got it down,
called a four-wheeler, and carried it away to the studio--our own
little _kopje_," for Whistler told us the story in the days of the
Boer War. Haden discovered his loss as soon as he got home, and in a
rage hurried after them to the studio. But when he saw it on an easel,
Legros repainting the perspective according to his idea, well, there
was nothing to say. Where the studio was we do not know.

Haden even endured Ernest, who had not yet caught up with the seasons,
and who went about in terror of the butler, taking his daily walks in
slippers rather than expose his boots to the servants, and enchanting
Whistler by asking "_Mais, mon cher, qu'est-ce que c'est que cette
espèce de cataracte de Niagara?_" when Haden turned on the shower-bath
in the morning. Fantin was almost as dismayed by the luxury at the
Hadens'. "What lunches!" he wrote home, "what roast beef and sherry!
And what dinners--always champagne!" And if he was distressed by the
street organs grinding out the _Miséréré_ of Verdi, he could console
himself by listening to Lady Haden's brilliant playing on the piano,
until _paradisiaque_ was the adjective he found to describe his life
there to his parents.

Whistler fell in at once with the English students whom he had known
in Paris: Poynter, Armstrong, Luke and Aleco Ionides. Du Maurier came
back from Antwerp in 1860, and for several months he and Whistler lived
together in Newman Street. Armstrong remembers their studio, with a
rope like a clothes-line stretched across it and, floating from it, a
bit of brocade no bigger than a handkerchief, which was their curtain
to shut off the corner used as a bedroom. There was hardly ever a chair
to sit on, and often with the brocade a towel hung from the line: their
decoration and drapery. Du Maurier's first _Punch_ drawing--in a volume
full of crinolines and Leech (vol. XXXIX., October 6, 1860)--shows the
two, shabby, smoking, calling at a photographer's to be met with an
indignant, "No smoking here, sirs!" followed by a severe, "Please to
remember, gentlemen, that this is not a common Hartist's Studio!" The
figure at the door, with curly hair, top hat, glass in his eye, hands
behind his back smoking a cigarette, is Whistler. Probably it was then
also that Du Maurier made a little drawing, in Mr. Howard Mansfield's
collection, of Whistler, Charles Keene, and himself, with their
autographs below; Whistler again with a glass in his eye.

"Nearly always, on Sunday, he used to come to our house," Mr.
Ionides tells us, and there was no more delightful house in London.
Alexander Ionides, the father, was a wealthy merchant with a talent
for gathering about him all the interesting people in town or passing
through, artists, musicians, actors, authors. Mr. Luke Ionides says
that Whistler came to their evenings and played in their private
theatricals, and there remains a programme designed by Du Maurier
with a drawing of himself, Whistler, and Aleco Ionides at the top,
while Luke Ionides and his sister, Mrs. Coronio, stand below with the
list of _dramatis personæ_ between. And Whistler also took part in
their masquerades and fancy-dress balls, once mystifying everybody
by appearing in two different costumes in the course of the evening
and winding up as a sweep. He never lost his joy in the memory of
Alma-Tadema, on another of these occasions, as an "Ancient Roman" in
toga and eye-glasses, crowned with flowers: "amazing," Whistler said,
"with his bare feet and Romano-Greek St. John's Wooden eye!"

Mr. Arthur Severn writes us: "My first recollection of Whistler was at
his brother-in-law's, Seymour Haden (he and Du Maurier were looking
over some _Liber Studiorum_ engravings), and then at Arthur Lewis'
parties on Campden Hill, charming gatherings of talented men of all
kinds, with plenty of listeners and sympathisers to applaud. The Moray
Minstrels used to sing, conducted by John Foster, and when they were
resting anyone who could do anything was put up. Du Maurier with Harold
Sower would sing a duet, _Les Deux Aveugles_; Grossmith half killed
us with laughter (it was at these parties he first came out). Stacy
Marks was a great attraction, but towards the end of the evening, when
we were all in accord, there were yells for Whistler, the eccentric
Whistler! He was seized and stood up on a high stool, where he assumed
the most irresistibly comic look, put his glass in his eye, and
surveyed the multitude, who only yelled the more. When silence reigned
he would begin to sing in the most curious way, suiting the action to
the words with his small, thin, sensitive hands. His songs were in
_argot_ French, imitations of what he had heard in low _cabarets_ on
the Seine when he was at work there. What Whistler and Marks did was so
entirely themselves and nobody else, so original or quaint, that they
were certainly the favourites."

"Breezy, buoyant and debonair, sunny and affectionate," he seemed to
George Boughton, who could not remember the time when "Whistler's
sayings and doings did not fill the artistic air," nor when he failed
to give a personal touch, a "something distinct" to his appearance. His
"cool suit of linen duck and his jaunty straw hat" were conspicuous in
London, where personality of dress was more startling than in Paris.
Boughton refers to a flying trip to Paris at this period, when he was
"flush of money and lovely in attire." Others recall meeting him, armed
with two umbrellas, a white and a black, his practical preparation for
all weathers. Val Prinsep speaks of the pink silk handkerchief stuck
in his waistcoat, but this must have been later. "A brisk little man,
conspicuous from his swarthy complexion, his gleaming eye-glass, and
his shock of curly black hair, amid which shone his celebrated white
lock," is Val Prinsep's description of him in the fifties.

But the white lock is not seen in any contemporary painting or etching.
It was first introduced, as far as we can discover, in his portrait
owned by the late Mr. McCulloch--the portrait a few years ago was in
Detroit--and in the etching _Whistler with the White Lock_, 1879,
though there may be earlier work showing it. We never asked him about
it, and his family, friends, and contemporaries, whom we have asked,
cannot explain it. Some say that it was a birthmark, others that he
dyed all his hair save the one lock. But he did not dye his hair. Du
Maurier, according to Dr. Williamson, attributed it to a wound, either
by bullet or sword-cut, received at Valparaiso: the wound was sewn up,
the white lock appeared almost immediately. Mr. Theodore Roussel tells
a somewhat similar story. But we think if this were so, Whistler would
have told us of it. In an exhibition of oil paintings and pastels by
Whistler held in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, in March 1910,
a painting was shown entitled _Sketch of Mr. Whistler_. It was lent
by Mr. Charles L. Freer and was sold to him by an art dealer. We are
by no means certain that it is genuine, though we have only seen the
reproduction, the frontispiece of the catalogue. J. recently went to
Detroit, but in Mr. Freer's absence he was not allowed to see the
painting. If it is genuine, it is most likely a study by Whistler of
the Chinese dress in which he posed for Fantin. In Freer's sketch the
white lock appears. Though it could easily have been added later,
its presence to us seems proof that the picture is most probably not
genuine, and certainly is not contemporary, because in Fantin's head of
Whistler from the _Toast_, in _Hommage à Delacroix_, and Whistler's own
portraits of that time the white lock is not shown. Many, seeing him
for the first time, mistook the white lock for a floating feather. He
used to call it the _Mèche de Silas_, and it amused him to explain that
the Devil caught those whom he would preserve by a lock of hair which
turned white. Whatever its origin, Whistler cherished it with greatest
care.

Whistler had stumbled upon a period in England when, though painters
prospered, art was at a low ebb. Pre-Raphaelitism was on the wane. A
few interesting young men were at work: Charles Keene, Boyd Houghton,
Albert Moore; Fred Walker and George Mason. But Academicians were at
the high tide of mid-Victorian success and sentiment. They puzzled
Whistler no less than he puzzled them.

"Well, you know, it was this way. When I came to London I was received
graciously by the painters. Then there was coldness, and I could not
understand. Artists locked themselves up in their studios--opened the
doors only on the chain; if they met each other in the street they
barely spoke. Models went round with an air of mystery. When I asked
one where she had been posing, she said, 'To Frith and Watts and
Tadema.' 'Golly! what a crew!' I said. 'And that's just what they says
when I told 'em I was a-posing to you!' Then I found out the mystery;
it was the moment of painting the Royal Academy picture. Each man was
afraid his subject might be stolen. It was the era of the subject.
And, at last, on Varnishing Day, there was the subject in all its
glory--wonderful! The British subject! Like a flash the inspiration
came--the Inventor! And in the Academy there you saw him: the familiar
model--the soldier or the Italian--and there he sat, hands on knees,
head bent, brows knit, eyes staring; in a corner, angels and cogwheels
and things; close to him his wife, cold, ragged, the baby in her arms;
he had failed! The story was told; it was clear as day--amazing! The
British subject! What."

Into this riot of subject, to the Academy of 1860, _At the Piano_
was sent, with five prints: _Monsieur Astruc, Rédacteur du Journal_
_'L'Artiste,'_ portrait, and three of the Thames Set. Whistler had
given _At the Piano_, the portrait of his sister and niece, to Seymour
Haden, "in a way," he said:

"Well, you know, it was hanging there, but I had no particular
satisfaction in that. Haden just then was playing the authority on
art, and he could never look at it without pointing out its faults and
telling me it never would get into the Academy--that was certain."

However, at the Academy it was accepted, Whistler's first picture in an
English exhibition. The _Salon_ was not held then every year, and he
could not hope to repeat his success in Paris. But in London _At the
Piano_ was as much talked about as at Bonvin's. It was bought by John
Phillip, the Academician (no relation to the family into which Whistler
afterwards married). Phillip had just returned from Spain with, "well,
you know, Spanish notions about things, and he asked who had painted
the picture, and they told him a youth no one knew about, who had
appeared from no one knew where. Phillip looked up my address in the
catalogue and wrote to me at once to say he would like to buy it, and
what was its price? I answered in a letter which, I am sure, must have
been very beautiful. I said that, in my youth and inexperience, I did
not know about these things, and I would leave to him the question of
price. Phillip sent me thirty pounds; when the picture was last sold,
to Edmund Davis, it brought two thousand eight hundred!"

Thackeray, Lady Ritchie tells us, "went to see the picture of Annie
Haden standing by the piano, and admired it beyond words, and stood
looking at it with real delight and appreciation." It was the only
thing George Boughton brought vividly away in his memories of the
Academy. The critics could not ignore it. "It at once made an
impression," Mr. W. M. Rossetti wrote. As "an eccentric, uncouth,
smudgy, phantom-like picture of a lady at a pianoforte, with a
ghostly-looking child in a white frock looking on," it struck the
_Daily Telegraph_. But the _Athenæum_, having discovered the "admirable
etchings" in the octagon room, managed to see in the "_Piano Picture_,
despite a recklessly bold manner and sketchiness of the wildest and
roughest kind, a genuine feeling for colour and a splendid power of
composition and design, which evince a just appreciation of nature very
rare among artists. If the observer will look for a little while at
this singular production, he will perceive that it 'opens out' just
as a stereoscopic view will--an excellent quality due to the artist's
feeling for atmosphere and judicious gradation of light."

We quote these criticisms because the general idea is that Whistler
waited long for notice. He was always noticed, praised or blamed, never
ignored, after 1859.

Whistler went back to Paris late in that year. December 1859 is the
date of his _Isle de la Cité_, etched from the Galerie d'Apollon in the
Louvre, with Notre Dame in the distance and the Seine and its bridges
between. It was his only attempt to rival Méryon, and he succeeded
badly. The fact that he gave it up when half done shows that he thought
so and was too big an artist to be an imitator, especially of a "little
man like Méryon." Besides, he was much less in Paris now, for, though
he preferred life there, he found his subjects in London, which he soon
made his home, as it continued to be, except for a few intervals, until
his death. It was not the people he cared for, nor the customs. He was
drawn by the beauty that no one had felt with the same intensity and
understanding.

He went to work on the river. In these first years he dated his prints
and pictures, as he seldom did later, and 1859 is bitten on many of
the Thames plates. He saw the river as no one had seen it before,
in its grime and glitter, with its forest of shipping, its endless
procession of barges, its grim warehouses, its huge docks, its little
water-side inns. And as he saw it so he rendered it, as no one ever had
before--as it is. It was left to the American youth to do for London
what Rembrandt had done for Amsterdam. There were eleven plates on the
Thames during this year. To make them he wandered from Greenwich to
Westminster; they included _Black Lion Wharf_, _Tyzac_, _Whiteley and
Co._, which he never excelled at any period; and in each the warehouses
or bridges, the docks or ships, are worked out with a mass and marvel
of detail. The Pre-Raphaelites were not so faithful to Nature, so
minute in their rendering. The series was a wonderful achievement for
the young man of twenty-five never known to work by his English fellow
students, a wonderful achievement for an artist of any age.

[Illustration: THE THAMES IN ICE

OIL

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 63_)]

[Illustration: ROTHERHITHE

ETCHING. G. 66

(_See page 63_)]

Those who thought he idled in Paris were as sure of his application in
London. "On the Thames he worked tremendously," Armstrong said, "not
caring then to have people about or to let anyone see too much of his
methods." He stayed for months at Wapping to be near his subjects,
though not cutting himself off entirely from his friends. Sir Edward
Poynter, Mr. Ionides, M. Legros, Du Maurier visited him. Mr. Ionides
recalls long drives down by the Tower and the London Docks to get to
the place, as out of the way now as then. He says Whistler lived in a
little inn, rather rough, frequented by skippers and bargees, close to
Wapping steamboat pier. But there is no doubt that much of his work was
done from Cherry Gardens, on the other side of the river. Unfortunately
it was not until after his death that we looked into this matter. At
any rate, if he lived at Wapping, he worked a great deal at Cherry
Gardens, also often from boats and barges, he told us, and this one
can see in the prints. Sometimes he would get stranded in the mud,
and at others cut off by the tide. "When his friends came," Armstrong
wrote us, "they dined at an _ordinary_ there used to be. People who had
business at the wharves in the neighbourhood dined there, and Jimmie's
descriptions of the company were always humorous." Mr. Ionides drove
down once for a dinner-party Whistler gave at his inn:

"The landlord and several bargee guests were invited. Du Maurier was
there also, and after dinner we had songs and sentiments. Jimmie
proposed the landlord's health; he felt flattered, but we were in fits
of laughter. The landlord was very jealous of his wife, who was rather
inclined to flirt with Jimmie, and the whole speech was chaff of a
soothing kind that he never suspected."

Another and more frequent visitor to Wapping was Serjeant Thomas,
one of those patrons who recognise the young artist and appear when
recognition is most needed. He bought drawings and prints from Holman
Hunt and Legros when they were scarcely known, and he helped Millais
through difficult days. Whistler had issued his French Set of etchings
in London in 1859: _Twelve Etchings from Nature by James Abbott
Whistler, London_. _Published by J. A. Whistler, At No. 62 Sloane
Street_ (Haden's house). The price, as in Paris, for _Artist's Proofs
on India, two guineas_. Serjeant Thomas saw the prints, got to know
Whistler, and arranged to publish them, and also the Thames etchings
which he sold separately at 39 Old Bond Street, where he had opened a
shop with his son, Edmund Thomas, as manager.

Mr. Percy Thomas, a younger son, has told us that, as a little fellow,
he often went with his father by boat to Wapping, and that his father
and brother posed for two of the figures--the third is Whistler--in
_The Little Pool_, used as an invitation card. He has also told us that
much of the printing was done at 39 Old Bond Street, where the family
lived in the upper part of the house. A press was in one of the small
rooms, and Whistler would come in the evening, when he happened to be
in town, to bite and prove his plates. Sometimes he would not get to
work until half-past ten or eleven. In those days he put his plate in
a deep bath of acid, keeping to the technical methods of the Coast
Survey, though it is said that the Coast Survey plates were banked
up with wax and the acid poured over them. This is supposed to have
been the method of Rembrandt. Serjeant Thomas, in his son's words, was
"great for port wine," and he would fill a glass for Whistler, and
Whistler would place the glass by the bath, and then work a little on
the plate and then stop to sip the port, and he would say, "Excellent!
Very good indeed!" and they never knew whether he meant the wine or the
work. And the charm of his manner and his courtesy made it delightful
to do anything for him. Serjeant Thomas brought Delâtre from Paris, the
only man, he thought, who could print Whistler's etchings as the artist
would have printed them himself. "Nobody," Ralph Thomas wrote, "has
ever printed Mr. Whistler's etchings with success except himself and M.
Delâtre," and to-day many people are of the same opinion. Whistler's
relations with the firm were pleasant while they lasted. But they did
not last long. Edmund Thomas cared less for art than the law, and in
the shop he would sit at his desk reading his law books, never looking
up nor leaving them, unless someone asked the price of a print or
drawing. A successful business is not run on those lines, and in a few
years he gave up art for the law, to his great advantage.



CHAPTER IX: THE BEGINNINGS IN LONDON. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN FIFTY-NINE TO
EIGHTEEN SIXTY-THREE CONTINUED.


Whistler, in 1860, devoted more time to painting on the river and less
to etching, though the _Rotherhithe_ belongs to this year. One picture
he described in a letter to Fantin. "_Chut! n'en parle pas à Courbet_"
was his warning, as if afraid to trust so good a subject to anyone. It
was to be a masterpiece, he had painted it three times, and he sent a
sketch which M. Duret reproduced in his _Whistler_. M. Duret, unable
to trace the picture, thought he might never have carried it beyond
the sketch. But it was finished: the _Wapping_ shown in the Academy of
1864, a proof how long Whistler kept his pictures before exhibiting
them. In 1867 he sent it to the Paris Exhibition. It was bought by Mr.
Thomas Winans, taken to Baltimore, where it has remained. Whistler
wanted to exhibit it at Goupil's in 1892, but could not get it. Never
seen in Europe since 1867, it has been forgotten. It was painted from
an inn, probably The Angel on the water-side at Cherry Gardens which
exists to-day, one of a row of old houses with overhanging balconies.
In the foreground, in a shadowy corner of the inn balcony, is a sailor
for whom a workman from Greaves' boat-building yard, Chelsea, sat;
next, M. Legros; and on the other side of M. Legros, with her back
turned to the river, the girl with copper-coloured hair, Jo, the model
for _The White Girl_ and _The Little White Girl_. On the river are the
little square-rigged ships that still anchor there; on the opposite
side is the long line of Wapping warehouses, which give the name.
Artists feared Jo's slightly open bodice would prevent the picture
being hung in the Royal Academy. But Whistler insisted, if it was
rejected on that account, he would open the bodice more and more every
year until he was elected and hung it himself.

He painted _The Thames in Ice_ this year (1860) from the same inn. It
was called, when first exhibited, _The Twenty-fifth of December, 1860,
on the Thames_. For an idle apprentice it was a strange way of spending
Christmas. Whistler told us that Haden bought it for ten pounds--ample
pay, Haden said: three pounds for each of the three days he spent
painting it, and a pound over. To Whistler the pay seemed anything
but ample. "You know, my sister was in the house, and women have their
ideas about things, and I did what she wanted, to please her!"

Two other pictures of 1860 are the portrait of Mr. Luke Ionides and
_The Music Room_. In both the influence of Courbet is evident. The
portrait, painted in the Newman Street studio, has the heavy handling
of _The Piano_, though much more brilliant. But the other picture is a
tremendous advance.

Fantin could not have been more conscientious in rendering the life
about him as he found it than Whistler in _The Music Room_; only,
the room in the London house, with its gay chintz curtains, has none
of the sombre simplicity of the interior where Fantin's sisters sit.
Fantin's home had an austerity he made beautiful; the Haden's house had
colour--_Harmony in Green and Rose_ was Whistler's later title for the
picture. He emphasised the gaiety by introducing a strong black note in
the standing figure, Miss Boot, while the cool light from the window
falls on "wonderful little Annie," in the same white frock she wears in
_The Piano Picture_. Mrs. Thynne (Annie Haden) says:

"I was very young when _The Music Room_ was painted, and beyond the
fact of not minding sitting, in spite of the interminable length of
time, I do not know that I can say more. It was a distinctly amusing
time for me. He was always so delightful and enjoyed the 'no lessons'
as much as I did. One day in _The Morning Call_ (the first name of
_The Music Room_) I did get tired without knowing it, and suddenly
dissolved into tears, whereupon he was full of the most tender remorse,
and rushed out and bought me a lovely Russia leather writing set, which
I am using at this very moment! The actual music-room still exists in
Sloane Street, though the present owners have enlarged it, and the
date of the picture must have been '60 or '61, after his return from
Paris. It was then he gave me the pencil sketches I lent to the London
Memorial Exhibition. I had kept them in an album he had also brought
me from Paris, with my name in gold stamped outside, of which I was
very proud. We were always good friends, and I have nothing all through
those early days but the most delightful remembrance of him."

This picture is described under three titles: _The Morning Call_, _The
Music Room_, and _Harmony in Green and Rose, The Music Room_; the
present confusion in Whistler's titles is usually the result of his own
vagueness. It became the property of Mrs. Réveillon, George Whistler's
daughter, and was carried off to St. Petersburg, never to return to
London until the exhibition at the Goupil Gallery in 1892.

It has become the fashion to say that Whistler had not mastered his
trade and could not use oil paint. These early pictures are technically
as accomplished as the work of any of his contemporaries. He never was
taught, few artists are, the elements of his trade, and some of his
paintings have suffered. _The Music Room_ and _The Thames in Ice_,
so far as we can remember, are wonderfully fresh. They were painted
more directly, more thinly, than the _Wapping_, in which the paint is
thickly piled, as in the _Piano Picture_, which has cracked, no doubt
the result of his working over it probably on a bad ground. Of two
pictures painted at the same period, the _Wapping_ is badly cracked,
and the _Thames in Ice_ is in perfect condition. But this is due to his
want of knowledge of the chemical properties of paints and mediums.
Later, he gave great attention to these matters. He kept the _Wapping_
four years before he showed it. Though started down the river in 1860,
it contains a portrait of Greaves' man, whom he did not see for two
or three years after. Walter Greaves stated, or allowed to be stated,
in a preface to the catalogue of his exhibition in May 1911, that he
met Whistler in the late fifties when Whistler lived in Chelsea and
made the Thames series of etchings. But the statement was proved to
be inaccurate, and the preface was withdrawn. We have quoted Greaves
on several occasions, but, before doing so, we have verified every
statement of importance he made to us, and we first met him some few
years ago when his memory was clearer and more reliable, and when he
possessed letters from Whistler which we have seen.

Mr. Thynne stood in 1860 for the beautiful dry-point _Annie Haden_, in
big crinoline and soup-plate hat, the print Whistler told Mr. E. G.
Kennedy he would choose by which to be remembered. It was the year also
of the portraits of Axenfeld, Riault, and "Mr. Mann." In 1861 there
were more plates on the Upper as well as the Lower Thames. Two of the
plates of 1861 were published as illustrations by the Junior Etching
Club in _Passages from Modern English Poets_, and Whistler proved the
plates at the press of Day and Son, and met the lad he called "the best
professional printer in England," Frederick Goulding.

Whistler told us that he worked about three weeks on each of the Thames
plates. He therefore must have spent on dated plates alone thirty-six
weeks in 1861, leaving but fourteen weeks for other work and for play.
Some of them are much less elaborate than the _Drouet_, which, Drouet
said, was done in five hours, so that it seems difficult to reconcile
the two statements. But it was about the _Black Lion Wharf_, one of
the fullest of detail, that we asked Whistler. We had many discussions
with him about them. Whistler maintained that they were youthful
performances, and J. as strongly maintained that that had nothing to
do with the matter; that he never surpassed the wonderful drawing and
composition and biting. He insisted that his later work in Venice and
in Holland was a great development, a great advance, and his final
answer was: "Well, you like them more than I do!" But there is no doubt
that the Thames plates, notably the _Black Lion Wharf_, have, for
artistic rendering of inartistic subjects and for perfect biting, never
been approached. Another thing that astonished J. was that he could
see such detail and put it on a copper-plate. "H'm," was Whistler's
comment, "that's what they all say."

Whistler got to know the Upper Thames when he stayed with Mr. and Mrs.
Edwin Edwards at Sunbury. Edwards figures in his dry-point _Encamping_
with M. W. Ridley, who was Whistler's first pupil, and Traer, Haden's
assistant, not "Freer," as he has long masqueraded in Mr. Wedmore's
catalogue. Ridley also is in _The Storm_ and _The Guitar-Player_. To
these visits we owe an etching of _Whistler at Moulsey_, by Edwards.
Whistler introduced Fantin, who, in a note for 1861, refers to the
"_jolies journées chez Edwards à Sunbury_." Mrs. Edwards wrote us
shortly before her death:

"Whistler often came to see me, turning up always when least expected,
perhaps driving down in a hansom cab from London. At that time there
was no railway at Sunbury; Hampton Court three miles distant. He might
send a line to be met by boat at Hampton Court. He was always very
eccentric."

Doubtless the driving down was an eccentricity. But Whistler knew he
might see some "foolish sunset," or a Nocturne, on the way. "We had a
large boat with waterproof cover," Mrs. Edwards added; "my husband and
friends several times went up the river and slept in the boat. Whistler
went once," when he did the plate _Encamping_ and possibly _Sketching_
and _The Punt_, and in Mrs. Edwards' words, "got rheumatism." It had
been his trouble since St. Petersburg. He could not risk exposure.

Whistler, though not settled in London, sent work regularly to the
Academy, where it was an unfailing shock to the critics. He showed
his _Mère Gérard_ in 1861. The _Athenæum_ described the picture as "a
fine, powerful-toned, and eminently characteristic study." The _Daily
Telegraph_ thought it "far fitter hung over the stove in the studio
than exhibited at the Royal Academy, though it is replete with evidence
of genius and study. If Mr. Whistler would leave off using mud and clay
on his palette and paint cleanly, like a gentleman, we should be happy
to bestow any amount of praise on him, for he has all the elements of a
great artist in his composition. But we must protest against his soiled
and miry ways." It seemed a good, serious study of an old woman and
nothing more, when we saw it in the London Memorial Exhibition, and the
appallingly low level of the Academy alone can explain the attention it
attracted.

Whistler was in France in the summer of 1861, painting _The Coast of
Brittany_, or _Alone with the Tide_, which might have been signed by
Courbet--an arrangement in brown under a cloudy sky, a stretch of
sand at low tide in the foreground, water-washed rocks against which
a peasant girl sleeps, a deep blue sea beyond. It was "a beautiful
thing," Whistler said years afterwards. At Perros Guirec he made his
splendid dry-point _The Forge_. Another print of this year is the rare
dry-point of Jo, who, for awhile, appeared in Whistler's work as often
as Saskia in Rembrandt's. She was Irish. Her father has been described
to us as a sort of Captain Costigan, and Jo--Joanna Heffernan, Mrs.
Abbott--as a woman of next to no education, but of keen intelligence,
who, before she had ceased to sit to Whistler, knew more about painting
than many painters, had become well read, and had great charm. Her
value to Whistler as a model was enormous, and she was an important
element in his life during the first London years. She was with him in
France in 1861-2, going to Paris in the winter to give him sittings for
the big _White Girl_, which he painted in a studio in the Boulevard des
Batignolles hung all in white. There Courbet met her, and, looking at
the copper-coloured hair, saw beauty in the beautiful. He painted her,
though perhaps not that winter, as _La Belle Irlandaise_, and as _Jo,
femme d'Irlande_. Whistler's study of Jo, _Note Blanche_, lent by Mrs.
Sickert to the Paris Memorial Exhibition, was doubtless done in 1861,
for the technique is like Courbet's. Drouet remembered breakfasts in
the studio which Whistler cooked.

He fell ill before the end of the winter. Miss Chapman says he was
poisoned by the white lead used in the picture. Her brother, a doctor,
recommended a journey to the Pyrenees. At Guéthary Whistler was nearly
drowned when bathing. He wrote to Fantin:

"It was sunset, the sea was very rough, I was caught in the huge waves,
swallowing gallons of salt water. I swam and I swam, and the more I
swam the less near I came to the shore. Ah! my dear Fantin, to feel
my efforts useless and to know people were looking on saying, 'But
the _Monsieur_ amuses himself, he must be strong!' I cry, I scream in
despair--I disappear three, four times. At last they understand. A
brave railroad man rushes to me, and is rolled over twice on the sands.
My model hears the call, arrives at a gallop, jumps in the sea like
a Newfoundland, manages to catch me by the foot, and the two pull me
out."[2]

At Biarritz he painted _The Blue Wave_, a great sea rolling in and
breaking on the shore under a fine sky, but quite unlike the _Coast of
Brittany_. Whistler painted few pictures in which the composition, the
arrangement, is more obvious. It is an extraordinary piece of work. It
has lately been said that he painted this picture after he had seen
Courbet's _Vague_, now in the Louvre. But the _Vague_ was not shown
until 1870. If there was any influence, it was all the other way. At
Fuenterrabia Whistler was in Spain, for the only time; "Spaniards from
the _Opéra-Comique_ in the street, men in _bérets_ and red blouses,
children like little Turks." He wanted to go farther, to Madrid, and he
urged Fantin to join him. Together they would look at _The Lances_ and
_The Spinners_ as together they had studied at the Louvre. In another
letter he promised to describe Velasquez to Fantin, to bring back
photographs. Such "glorious painting" should be copied. "_Ah! mon cher,
comme il a du travailler_," he winds up in his enthusiasm. But the
journey ended at Fuenterrabia. Fantin could not join him. Madrid was
put off for another spring, for ever, though the journey was for ever
being planned anew.

[Illustration: THE MUSIC ROOM

HARMONY IN GREEN AND ROSE

OIL

In the possession of Colonel F. Hecker

(_See page 64_)]

[Illustration: ANNIE HADEN

DRY-POINT. G. 62

(_See page 65_)]

Whistler sent _The White Girl_ to the Academy of 1862, with _The
Twenty-fifth of December, 1860, on the Thames_; _Alone with the Tide_;
and one etching, _Rotherithe_. _The White Girl_ was rejected. The two
other pictures and the print were accepted, hung, and praised. The
_Athenæum_ compared the _Rotherithe_ to Rembrandt. Whistler could
scarcely be mentioned as an etcher without this comparison; since
Rembrandt his were "the most striking and original" etchings, everyone
then said, Mr. W. M. Rossetti being among the first in England to say
it boldly. _Alone with the Tide_ was approved as "perfectly expressed,"
and _The Twenty-fifth of December_ as "broad and vigorous, though
perhaps vigour was pushed over the bounds of coarseness to become mere
dash." Other work he showed elsewhere was praised. _The Punt_ and
_Sketching_, published in _Passages from Modern English Poets_, were
singled out for admiration. _Thames Warehouses_ and _Black Lion Wharf_
won him recognition as "the most admirable etcher of the present day,"
at South Kensington Museum, where in 1862 an International Exhibition
was held. Whistler had no pictures, but the collection of modern
continental art was one of the finest ever seen in England.

In nothing had Whistler been so completely himself as in _The White
Girl_, and it failed to please. The artist is born to pick and choose,
and group with science, the elements in Nature that the result may be
beautiful, he wrote in _The Ten O'Clock_, and _The White Girl_ was his
first attempt to conform to a principle no one ever put so clearly
into words. It was an attempt, we know now, comparing the painting
to the symphonies and harmonies that came after. But at the time it
was disquieting in its defiance of modern conventions. It was without
subject according to Victorian standards, and the bold massing of
white upon white was more bewildering than the minute detail of the
Pre-Raphaelites. This summer (1862) the Berners Street Gallery was
opened, "with the avowed purpose of placing before the public the works
of young artists who may not have access to the ordinary galleries."
Maclise, Egg, Frith, Cooper, Poynter forced their way in. But the
Manager had the courage to exhibit _The White Girl_, stating in the
catalogue that the Royal Academy had refused it. The _Athenæum_ was
independent enough to say that it was the most prominent picture in the
collection, though not the most perfect, for, "able as this bizarre
production shows Mr. Whistler to be, we are certain that in a very few
years he will recognize the reasonableness of its rejection. It is one
of the most incomplete paintings we ever met with. A woman in a quaint
morning dress of white, with her hair about her shoulders, stands
alone in the background of nothing in particular. But for the rich
vigour of the textures, we might conceive this to be some old portrait
by Zucchero, or a pupil of his, practising in a provincial town. The
face is well done, but it is not that of Mr. Wilkie Collins' _Woman in
White_."

The criticism brought from Whistler his first letter to the press,
published in the _Athenæum_, July 5:

"62 Sloane Street. July 1, 1862.

     "May I beg to correct an erroneous impression likely to be
     confirmed in your last number? The Proprietors of the Berners
     Street Gallery have, without my sanction, called my picture '_The
     Woman in White_.' I had no intention whatever of illustrating Mr.
     Wilkie Collins' novel; it so happens, indeed, that I have never
     read it. My painting simply represents a girl dressed in white,
     standing in front of a white curtain.--I am, &c.,

JAMES WHISTLER."

The critics were spared the sting of his wit, but they disapproved
strongly enough for him to tell his friends that _The White Girl_
enjoyed a _succès d'exécration_.

A different success awaited his Thames etchings in Paris, where they
were shown in a dealer's gallery. Baudelaire saw them and understood,
as he was the first to understand the work of Manet, Poe, Wagner, and
many others. He wrote:

"_Tout récemment, un jeune artiste américain, M. Whistler, exposait
à la galerie Martinet une série d'eaux fortes, subtiles, éveillées
comme l'improvisation et l'inspiration, représentant les bords de la
Tamise; merveilleux fouillis d'agrés, de vergues, de cordages; chaos de
brumes, de fourneaux et de fumées tire-bouchonnées; poésie profonde et
compliquée d'une vaste capitale._"

According to Mr. W. M. Rossetti, Whistler soon moved to Queen's
Road, Chelsea: "I fancy that the houses in Queen's Road have been
much altered since Whistler was there in 1862-63. They were then
low (say two-storeyed), quite old-fashioned houses, of a cosy,
homely character, with small forecourts. I have a kind of idea that
Whistler's house was No. 12, but this is quite uncertain to me.[3] As
my brother and I were much in that neighbourhood, to and fro, prior
to settling down in No. 16 Cheyne Walk, we came into contact with
Whistler, who every now and then accompanied us on our jaunts. I forget
how it was exactly that we got introduced to him; possibly by Mr.
Algernon Swinburne, who was also to be an inmate of No. 16. Either (as
I think) before meeting Whistler or just about the time we met him, we
had seen one or two of his paintings. _At the Piano_ must have been
one, and we most heartily admired him, and discerned unmistakably that
he was destined for renown."

The friendship may have led to Whistler's interest in black-and-white,
for in England it was Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood who
revolutionised illustration and proved it a dignified and serious form
of art. The more brilliant of the younger men were working for the
illustrated magazines, and Whistler found a place among them. He made
six drawings in 1862. Four appeared in _Once a Week_: _The Morning
before the Massacre of St. Bartholomew_, _Count Burckhardt_, _The
Major's Daughter_, _The Relief Fund in Lancashire_, intended to be
used as an illustration to the reprint of an address by Tennyson on
the subject of the famine in Lancashire, but never written because of
his illness. To this fund we believe Whistler contributed a drawing.
The two other illustrations, for _The First Sermon_, were published
in _Good Words_. They were drawn on wood in pencil, pen and wash, are
full of character, and, in the use of line, are like his etchings. They
were engraved by the Dalziel Brothers and Joseph Swain, and from Mr.
Strahan, the publisher of _Once a Week_, we have these additional facts:

"They were arranged for by Edward Dalziel, and I cannot say how he came
to know the artist or his work, as Mr. Whistler was young then, and, as
far as I know, had not contributed to any magazine.

The average price we paid to artists was nine pounds, and we reckoned
that the same amount had to be paid for engravings. As a matter of
fact, the sum paid to Mr. Whistler was nine pounds for each drawing."

We showed Whistler once _The Morning before the Massacre of St.
Bartholomew_. "Well, now, not bad, you know--not bad even then!" and he
followed, with his expressive little finger, the flowing line, pointing
to the hand lost in the draperies. This and _The Major's Daughter_ were
the two he preferred, and when J. was preparing _The History of Modern
Illustration_ Whistler picked them out as "very pretty ones" that
should be reproduced, though, if but a single example of his work could
be used, he wished _The Morning before the Massacre_ to be selected,
for it was "as delicate as an etching, and altogether characteristic
and personal." _Count Burckhardt_ he did not care for, insisting that
he would rather not be represented if this were to be the only example
in the book. "It was never a favourite," he added.

The four drawings of _Once a Week_ were reprinted in Thornbury's
_Legendary Ballads_, 1876. Thornbury implied that the drawings were
made for the book, and thought that "the startling drawings by Mr.
Whistler prove his singular power of hand, strong artistic feeling, and
daring manner."

Our copy belonged to George Augustus Sala. On the margin of _The
Morning before the Massacre_ he wrote: "Jemmy Whistler.--Clever,
sketchy, and incomplete, like everything he has done. A loaf of
excellent, fine flour, but slack-baked." So Sala believed in 1883, and
it is typical of the time.

Another important work of 1862 was _The Last of Old Westminster_. Mr.
Arthur Severn knows more about it than anyone, as his account to us
explains: "On my return from Rome to join my brother in his rooms in
Manchester Buildings, on the Thames at Westminster Bridge (where the
New Scotland Yard now is), I found Whistler beginning his picture of
Westminster Bridge. My brother had given him permission to use our
sitting-room, with its bow-windows looking over the river and towards
the bridge. He was always courteous and pleasant in manner, and it was
interesting to see him at work. The bridge was in perspective, still
surrounded with piles, for it had only just been finished. It was the
piles with their rich colour and delightful confusion that took his
fancy, not the bridge, which hardly showed. He would look steadily
at a pile for some time, then mix up the colour, then, holding his
brush quite at the end, with no mahlstick, make a downward stroke and
the pile was done. I remember his looking very carefully at a hansom
cab that had pulled up for some purpose on the bridge, and in a few
strokes he got the look of it perfectly. He was long over the picture,
sometimes coming only once a week, and we got rather tired of it. One
day some friends came to see it. He stood it against a table in an
upright position for them to see; it suddenly fell on its face, to my
brother's disgust, as he had just got a new carpet. Luckily Whistler's
sky was pretty dry, and I don't think the picture got any damage, and
the artist was most good-natured about my brother's anxiety lest the
carpet should have suffered."

_The Last of Old Westminster_ was ready for the Academy of 1863, to
which it was sent with six prints: _Weary_, _Old Westminster Bridge_,
_Hungerford Bridge_, _Monsieur Becquet_, _The Forge_, _The Pool_.
The dignity of composition in the picture and the vigour of handling
impressed all who saw it in the London Memorial Exhibition, though
they had to regret its shocking condition, cracked from end to end. It
failed to impress Academicians in 1863, and was badly hung, as were the
prints, reproductive work being then, as now, preferred to original
etching.

_The White Girl_, after its Berners Street success, was sent by
Whistler to the _Salon_. He took it to Paris, to Fantin's studio, there
having it unrolled and framed. It is hard to say why the strongest
work of the strongest young men was rejected from the _Salon_ of 1863.
Fantin, Legros, Manet, Bracquemond, Jongkind, Harpignies, Cazin,
Jean-Paul Laurens, Vollon, Whistler were refused. It was a scandal;
1859 was nothing to it. The town was in an uproar that reached the ears
of the Emperor. Martinet, the dealer, offered to show the rejected
pictures in his gallery. But before this was arranged, Napoleon III
ordered that a _Salon des Refusés_ should be held in the same building
as the official _Salon_, the _Palais de l'Industrie_. The decree
was published in the _Moniteur_ for April 24, 1863. The notice was
issued by the _Directeur-Général_ of the Imperial Museums, and the
exhibition opened on May 15. The success was as great as the scandal.
The exhibition was the talk of the town, it was caricatured as the
_Exposition des Comiques_, and parodied as the _Club des Refusés_
at the _Variétés_; everyone rushed to the galleries. The rooms were
crowded by artists, because, in the midst of much no doubt weak and
foolish, the best work of the day was shown; by the public, because of
the stir the affair made. The public laughed with the idea that it was
a duty to laugh, and because the critics said that never was _succès
pour rire_ better deserved. Zola described in _L'Oeuvre_ the gaiety and
cruelty of the crowd, convulsed and hysterical in front of _La Dame en
Blanc_. Hamerton wrote in the _Fine Arts Quarterly_:

"The hangers must have thought her particularly ugly, for they have
given her a sort of place of honour, before an opening through which
all pass, so that nobody misses her. I watched several parties, to see
the impression _The Woman in White_ made on them. They all stopped
instantly, struck with amazement. This for two or three seconds, then
they always looked at each other and laughed. Here, for once, I have
the happiness to be quite of the popular way of thinking."

On the other hand, Fernand Desnoyers, who wrote a pamphlet on the
_Salon des Refusés_, thought that Whistler was "_le plus spirite des
peintres_," and the painting the most original that had passed before
the jury of the _Salon_, altogether remarkable, at once simple and
fantastic, the portrait of a spirit, a medium, though of a beauty so
peculiar that the public did not know whether to think it beautiful
or ugly. Paul Mantz considered it the most important picture in the
exhibition, full of knowledge and strange charm, and his article in the
_Gazette des Beaux-Arts_ is the more interesting because he described
the picture as a _Symphonie du Blanc_ some years before Whistler called
it so, and pointed out that it carried on French tradition, for, a
hundred years earlier, painters had shown in the _Salon_ studies of
white upon white.

The picture hardly explained the sensation of its first appearance when
we saw it with _Miss Alexander_, the _Mother_, _Carlyle_, _The Fur
Jacket_, and _Irving_ in the London Memorial Exhibition. But it seemed
revolutionary enough in the sixties, to become the _clou_ of the _Salon
des Refusés_, though nothing was further from Whistler's intention. It
eclipsed Manet's _Déjeuner sur l'herbe_, then called _Le Bain_.

Whistler was in Amsterdam with Legros, looking at Rembrandt with
delight, at Van der Helst with disappointment, etching _Amsterdam
from the Tolhuis_, no doubt hunting for old paper and adding to his
collection of blue and white, when the news came of the reception of
his picture in Paris, and he wrote to Fantin that he longed to be there
and in the movement. It was a satisfaction that the picture, slighted
in London, should be honoured in Paris. He was all impatience to know
what was said in the _Café de Bade_, the _café_ of Manet, and by the
critics.

To add to his triumph in Paris, official honours were coming to him in
Holland and England. Some of his etchings were in an exhibition at The
Hague, though he said he did not know how they got there, and he was
given one of three gold medals awarded to foreigners--his first medal.
Though atrociously hung at the Academy, his prints were honoured at the
British Museum, where twelve were bought for the Print Room this year.

The excitement did not keep him from work, to which, as he wrote to
Fantin, wandering was a drawback. He felt the need of his studio,
of "the familiar all about him." The "familiar" he loved best was
in London, and when he returned he began to look for a house of his
own. It was fortunate for him that his mother was in England. At the
beginning of the Civil War, in which Whistler took the keenest interest
as a patriot and a "West Point man," she had been in Richmond with her
son William, serving as surgeon in the Confederate Army, had run the
blockade, and come to join her other children in London.

Whistler no longer made the Hadens' house his home. The relations
of the brothers-in-law had become strained, both being of strong
character. Haden had had much to put up with, while Whistler, the
artist, resented the criticism of Haden, the surgeon. One story we have
from Whistler explains the situation, and though he never gave a date,
it can be told here. Haden was the schoolmaster Whistler found him when
they first met; one's older relatives have a way of forgetting one can
grow up. Once, when Whistler had done something more enormous than ever
in Haden's eyes, he was summoned to the workroom upstairs, and lectured
until he refused to listen to another word. He started down the four
flights of stairs, with Haden close behind still lecturing. At last the
front door was reached. And then: "Oh, dear," said Whistler, "I've left
my hat upstairs, and now we have got to go all through this again!" As
there was no further question of Whistler living with the Hadens, it
was decided that he and his mother should live together, and some of
his most delightful years were those that followed.

[Footnote 2: See Duret's _Whistler_.]

[Footnote 3: Not only have the houses been much altered, but the name
of the street has changed, and Queen's Road is now Royal Hospital Road.
The present No. 12 corresponds to Mr. Rossetti's description, but we
think it more likely--and he does too--that Whistler lived in one of
the little brick cottages of Paradise Row. In any case, we doubt if
he had more than rooms or lodgings. He gave us to understand that the
house he took shortly after, in Lindsey Row, was his first in London.]



CHAPTER X: CHELSEA DAYS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SIXTY-THREE TO EIGHTEEN
SIXTY-SIX.


Whistler's first house in London was No. 7 Lindsey Row, Chelsea, now
101 Cheyne Walk. It adjoins the old palace of Lord Lindsey, which still
stands, the original building divided into several houses, stuccoed
and modernised, much of its stateliness gone, though the spacious
stairway and part of the panelling have been preserved. Whistler's was
a three-storey house, with a garden in front, humble compared with
the palaces Academicians were building. "All these artists complain
of nothing but the too great prosperity of the profession in these
days," Hamerton wrote to his wife; "they tell me an artist's life is
a princely one now." But Whistler lived his own life, and from his
windows he could paint what he wanted. Only the road separated the
house from the river; opposite was Battersea Church and a group of
factory chimneys; old Battersea Bridge stretched across, and at night
he could see the lights of Cremorne.

At the end of the Row the boat-builder Greaves lived. He had worked in
Chelsea for years. He had rowed Turner about on the river, and his two
sons were to row Whistler. One of the sons, Mr. Walter Greaves, has
told us that Mrs. Booth, a big, hard, coarse Scotchwoman, was always
with Turner when he came for a boat. Turner would ask Greaves what kind
of a day it was going to be, and if Greaves answered "Fine," he would
get Greaves to row them across to Battersea Church, or to the fields,
now Battersea Park. If Greaves was doubtful Turner would say: "Well,
Mrs. Booth, we won't go far," and afterwards for the sons--boys at the
time--Turner in their memory was overshadowed by her. They had also
known Martin, the painter of big Scriptural _machines_, whose house
was in the middle of the Row. It had a balcony, and on fine moonlight
nights, or nights of dramatic skies, Greaves or one of the sons would
knock him up, and keep on knocking until they saw the old man in his
nightcap on the balcony, where he would get to work and sketch the sky
until daylight. Greaves remembered, too, Brunel, who built the _Great
Eastern_, living at the end of the Row. Of other associations, dating
a couple of centuries before, the little Moravian graveyard at the
back was a reminder, for Lindsey Palace was one of the first refuges
of Zinzendorf and the Brotherhood. A hundred years or so later Mrs.
Gaskell was born there. The Row, indeed, was a place of history. But
Whistler was to make it more famous.

[Illustration: THE WHITE GIRL SYMPHONY IN WHITE. NO. I

OIL

In the possession of J. H. Whittemore, Esq.

(_See page 67_)]

[Illustration: JO

DRY-POINT. G. 77

(_See page 68_)]

The two Greaves, Walter and Harry, painted, and Whistler let them work
with and for him. We have often heard him speak of them as his pupils.
From them he learned to row. "He taught us to paint, and we taught him
the waterman's jerk," Mr. Walter Greaves says. Whistler would start
with them in the twilight, Albert Moore sometimes his companion, and
they would stay on the river for hours, often all night, lingering in
the lights of Cremorne, drifting into the shadows of the bridge. Or
else he was up with the dawn, throwing pebbles at their windows to wake
them and make them come and pull him up or down stream. At night, on
the river and at Cremorne, he was never without brown paper and black
and white chalk, with which he made his notes for the Nocturnes and the
seemingly simple, but really complicated, firework pictures. In the
Gardens it was easy to put down what he wanted under the lamps. On the
river he had to trust to his memory, only noting the reflections in
white chalk.

Walter Greaves, in his exhibition of 1911, made the statement, or
allowed it to be made, that before he and his brother knew Whistler,
they were "painting pictures of the Thames and Cremorne Gardens, both
day and night effects." This statement Mr. Greaves was unable to
substantiate by dates and facts, and as other dates and facts given in
his catalogue were wrong, little reliance can be placed upon it. He
and his brother were Whistler's pupils, and they worked for Whistler
for many years, helping him, at any rate until after The Peacock Room.
Whistler naturally wished to control his pupils in their work as any
other master would, as he controlled and directed the work of Mr. and
Mrs. Clifford Addams, his last pupils. He also did his best to prevent
Mr. Walter Greaves and his brother from appropriating his subjects,
which letters from Whistler to Greaves prove was exactly what they
were doing. They were to carry on his tradition, and this included his
methods and even at times his colours which they used, while Whistler
as undoubtedly worked on their canvases and plates as he worked on
those of other pupils at later dates. But the statement that he refused
to allow them to exhibit is untrue, for on the few occasions when we
are able to find that Greaves did exhibit, it was because Whistler,
in his generosity, got the pictures hung. In his recent exhibition
Greaves showed a painting called _Passing under Old Battersea Bridge_,
signed and dated 1862, and he stated that he had exhibited it in the
International Exhibition at South Kensington of that year. No other
picture we have seen by him has any such date or signature on it, and
his statement that it was in the International Exhibition of 1862 has
been proved false. It is now admitted that he did not show until 1873.
There are two distinct qualities of work in the picture which must
be the work either of two people or of two periods. The piers of the
bridge are hard and tight, the background resembles Whistler's work of
years later, for neither Whistler nor Greaves had painted a Nocturne in
that manner at the time. Nevertheless, these misstatements of Greaves
were used by critics all over the world to belittle Whistler.

At one time, master and pupils attended a life class held in the
evening by M. Barthe, a Frenchman, in Limerston Street, not far from
the Row. Mr. J. E. Christie was another student, and from him we have
the following account:

"Whistler was not a regular attender, but came occasionally, and always
accompanied by two young men--brothers--Greaves by name. They simply
adored Whistler, and were not unlike him in appearance, owing to an
unconscious imitation of his dress and manner. It was amusing to watch
the movements of the trio when they came into the studio (always late).
The curtain that hung in front of the door would suddenly be pulled
back by one of the Greaves, and a trim, prim little man, with a bright,
merry eye, would step in with 'Good evening,' cheerfully said to the
whole studio. After a second's survey, while taking off his gloves, he
would hand his hat to the other brother, who hung it up carefully as
if it were a sacred thing, then he would wipe his brow and moustache
with a spotless handkerchief, then in the most careful way he arranged
his materials, and sat down. Then, having imitated in a general way the
preliminaries, the two Greaves sat down on either side of him. There
was a sort of tacit understanding that his and their studies should
not be subjected to our rude gaze. I, however, saw, with the tail of
my eye, as it were, that Whistler made small drawings on brown paper
with coloured chalks, that the figure (always a female figure) would
be about four inches long, that the drawing was bold and fine, and not
slavishly like the model. The comical part was that his satellites
didn't draw from the model at all, that I saw, but sat looking at
Whistler's drawing and copying that as far as they could. He never
entered into the conversation, which was unceasing, but occasionally
rolled a cigarette and had a few whiffs, the Greaves brothers always
requiring their whiffs at the same time. The trio packed up, and left
before the others always."

Sometimes in the evening Whistler, with his mother, would go to the
Greaves' house after dinner, and work there. Often he sent in dessert,
that they might enjoy and talk over it together. Then he would
bring out his brown paper and chalks and make studies of the family
and of himself, or sketches of pictures he had seen, working until
midnight and after. In those days he never went to bed until he had
drawn a portrait of himself, he told us. Many of the portraits are
in existence. The sister was an accomplished musician, and Whistler
delighted in music, though he was not critical, for he was known to
call the passing hurdy-gurdy into his front garden, and have it ground
under his windows. Occasionally the brothers played so that Whistler
might dance. He was always full of drolleries and fun. He would imitate
a man sawing, or two men fighting at the door so cleverly that Mrs.
Greaves never ceased to be astonished when he walked into the room
alone and unhur. He delighted in American mechanical toys, and his
house was full of Japanese dolls. One great doll, dressed like a man,
he would take with him not only to the Greaves', but to dinners at
Little Holland House, where the Prinseps then lived, and to other
houses, where he put it through amazing performances.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti was, by this time, settled in Tudor House (now
Queen's House), not far from Lindsey Row, and Swinburne and George
Meredith were living with him. Mr. W. M. Rossetti came for two or three
nights every week, and Frederick Sandys, Charles Augustus Howell,
William Bell Scott, and, several years later, Mr. Theodore Watts-Dunton
were constant visitors.

For Rossetti Whistler had a genuine affection, and, in his early
enthusiasm, wrote of him as "_une grand artiste_" to Fantin. But later
his enthusiasm did not blind him. "A charming fellow, the only white
man in all that crowd of painters," he assured us; "not an artist,
you know, but charming and a gentleman." Mr. Watts-Dunton says that
Rossetti got tired of Whistler after awhile, and considered him a
brainless fellow, who had no more than a malicious quick wit at the
expense of others, and no genuine philosophy or humour. But Whistler
never realised any change in Rossetti's feelings towards him.

It was inevitable that Whistler and Rossetti should disagree in matters
of art. Whistler asked Rossetti why he did not frame his sonnets.
Rossetti thought that the "new French School," in which Whistler had
been trained, was "simply putrescence and decomposition." It is said
that Rossetti influenced Whistler. Whistler influenced him as much.
They influenced each other in the choice of models, in a certain
luxuriance of type and the manner of presenting it, an influence which
was superficial and transitory.

Upon many other subjects they agreed. Rossetti shared Whistler's
delight in drollery and his love of the fantastic. No one understood
better than Whistler why Rossetti filled his house and garden with
strange beasts. It was from Whistler we heard of the peacock and the
gazelle, who fought until the peacock was left standing desolate, with
his tail strewed upon the ground. From Whistler, too, we had the story
of the bull of Bashan, bought at Cremorne, and tied to a stake in
the garden, and Rossetti would come every day and talk to him, until
once the bull got so excited that he pulled up the stake and made
for Rossetti, who went tearing round and round a tree, a little fat
person with coat-tails flying, finally, by a supreme effort, rushing
up the garden steps just in time to slam the door in the bull's face.
Rossetti called his man and ordered him to tie up the bull, but the
man, who had looked out for the menagerie, who had gone about the house
with peacocks and other creatures under his arms, who had rescued
armadilloes from irate neighbours, who had captured monkeys from the
tops of chimneys, struck when it came to tying up a bull of Bashan on
the rampage, and gave a month's warning. From Whistler also we first
had the story of the wombat, bought at Jamrach's by Rossetti for its
name. Whistler was dining at Tudor House, and the wombat was brought on
the table with coffee and cigars, while Meredith talked brilliantly,
and Swinburne read aloud passages from the _Leaves of Grass_. But
Meredith was witty as well as brilliant, and the special target of his
wit was Rossetti, who, as he had invited two or three of his patrons,
did not appreciate the jest. The evening ended less amiably than it
began, and no one thought of the wombat until late, and then it had
disappeared. It was searched for high and low. Days passed, weeks
passed, months passed, and there was no wombat. It was regretted,
forgotten. Long afterwards Rossetti, who was not much of a smoker, got
out the box of cigars he had not touched since that dinner. He opened
it. Not a cigar was left, but there was the skeleton of the wombat.

Whistler and Rossetti also agreed about many of the group who met at
Tudor House, though eventually Whistler felt what appeared to him the
disloyalty of Swinburne and Burne-Jones. He was never, at any time,
so intimate with Burne-Jones as with Swinburne, who often came to
the house in Lindsey Row, not only for Whistler's sake, but out of
affection for Whistler's mother. Miss Chapman tells us that Swinburne
was once taken ill there suddenly, and Mrs. Whistler nursed him till
he was well. Miss Chapman also remembers Swinburne sitting at Mrs.
Whistler's feet, and saying to her: "Mrs. Whistler, what has happened?
It used to be Algernon!" Mrs. Whistler, who had accepted Whistler's
friends and their ways, said quietly, "You have not been to see us for
a long while, you know. If you come as you did, it will be Algernon
again." And he came, and the friendship lasted until the eighties, when
he published the article in the _Fortnightly Review_ which Whistler
could not forgive.

Meredith wrote us of these Chelsea days: "I knew Whistler and never had
a dissension with him, though merry bouts between us were frequent.
When I went to live in the country, we rarely met. He came down to stay
with me once. He was a lively companion, never going out of his way to
take offence, but with the springs in him prompt for the challenge. His
tales of his student life in Paris, and of one Ernest, with whom he
set forth on a holiday journey with next to nothing in his purse, were
_impayable_."

Quarrels and distrust never made Whistler deny the charm of Charles
Augustus Howell, remembered for the part he played in the lives of
some of the most distinguished people of his generation. Who he was,
where he came from, nobody knew. He was supposed to be associated with
high, but nameless, personages in Portugal, and sent by them on a
secret mission to England: he was said to have been involved in the
Orsini conspiracy, and obliged to fly for his life across the Channel.
According to Mr. E. T. Cook, he was descended from Boabdil il Chico,
though Rossetti called him "the cheeky." Mr. Cook says that in his
youth, as he used to tell, he had supported his family by diving for
treasure, and had lived in Morocco as the Sheik of a Tribe. But Ford
Madox Brown described him as the Münchausen of the Pre-Raphaelite
circle. The unquestionable fact is that he was a man of great personal
charm and unusual business capacity. Mr. W. M. Rossetti has written of
him: "As a salesman--with his open manner, winning address, and his
exhaustless gift of amusing talk, not innocent of high colouring and of
actual _blague_--Howell was unsurpassable."

He was secretary to Ruskin; he was Rossetti's man of affairs; he became
Whistler's, though on a less definite basis. He appears in published
reminiscences as the magnificent prototype of the author's agent. His
talk was one of his recommendations to both Rossetti and Whistler.
Rossetti rejoiced in Howell's "Niagara of lies," and immortalised them:

"_There's a Portuguese person called Howell,
Who lays on his lies with a trowel;
    When I goggle my eyes,
    And start with surprise,
'Tis at the monstrous big lies told by Howell._"

Whistler described him as "the wonderful man, the genius, the Gil
Blas-Robinson Crusoe hero out of his proper time, the creature of
top-boots and plumes, splendidly flamboyant, the real hero of the
Picaresque novel, forced by modern conditions into other adventures,
and along other roads."

Whistler gave Howell credit for more than picturesqueness. He had the
instinct for beautiful things, Whistler said: "He knew them and made
himself indispensable by knowing them. He was of the greatest service
to Rossetti; he helped Watts to sell his pictures and raise his prices;
he acted as artistic adviser to Mr. Howard, Lord Carlisle. He had
the gift of intimacy; he was at once a friend, on closest terms of
confidence. He introduced everybody to everybody else, he entangled
everybody with everybody else, and it was easier to get involved with
Howell than to get rid of him."

Many years passed before there was any wish on Whistler's part to
get rid of him. He was soon as frequent a visitor at Lindsey Row as
at Tudor House. For a time he lived at Putney, and Whistler used to
take his morning pull up the river to breakfast with him. Of none of
the Rossetti group did Whistler so often talk to us as of Howell,
telling us his adventures--adventures in pursuit of old furniture and
china until he was known to, and loved and hated by, every pawnbroker
in London, and seemed to spend all his time with rare and beautiful
things; adventures with creditors and bailiffs: once his collection
of blue pots saved by a device only Howell could have invented, forty
blue pots carried off in forty four-wheelers to the law-courts, where
he was complimented by the judge and awarded heavy damages by the jury;
adventures as vestryman, giving teas to hundreds of schoolchildren;
adventures at Selsea Bill, where three cottages were turned into a
house for himself and he swaggered in the village as a great personage,
finding an occupation in stripping the copper from an old wreck that
had been there for years and possibly selling it to etchers; adventures
ending eventually in _The Paddon Papers_, of which there will be
something to say when the date of their publication is reached.

Frederick Sandys' work never interested Whistler, but Sandys the man
was a delight to him, though the two lost sight of each other for many
years. Sandys was usually without a penny in his pocket, but he faced
the situation with calm and swagger. Accidents never separated him
from his white waistcoat, though he might have to carry it himself to
the laundry, or get his model, "the little girl" he called her, to
carry it for him. You were always meeting them with the brown-paper
parcel, Whistler said, and at the nearest friend's house he would stop
for five minutes and emerge from it splendid in a clean waistcoat. In
money matters he reckoned like a Rothschild. It was always, "Huh! five
hundred," that he wanted. Late one afternoon, as Whistler was going
into Rossetti's, he met Sandys coming out unusually depressed. He
stopped Whistler:

"Do, do try and reason with Gabriel, huh! He is most thoughtless. He
says I must go to America, and I must have five hundred, huh, and go!
But, if I could go, huh, I could stay!"

Once Whistler, Sandys, and Rossetti are said to have gone to Winchelsea
with W. G. Wills, Irving, and Alfred Calmour, from whom the story
comes. Whistler and Rossetti wanted to see a beautiful old house.
A grumpy old man lived in it, but Irving warned them that he would
probably ask them all to dinner. Rossetti said they must refuse, he
hated dining with strangers; Whistler was sure the wine would be bad,
Sandys as certain they would be bored by infernal chatter. But they
went to the house. Whistler knocked. The servant opened. Whistler
asked him to tell his master that "Mr. Whistler and Mr. Rossetti and
Mr. Irving wish to see the place." A rough voice was heard: "Shut the
door, Roger, I don't want these damned show people stealing my silver."
Whistler and Rossetti were furious, and thought they should demand
an apology. "He thinks we are confounded actors," Whistler said. "My
dear James, he's never heard of _you_!" was Irving's comment. The only
drawback to the story is that we doubt if Whistler knew Irving until
after he had ceased to see anything of Rossetti and Sandys.

Whistler got to know other friends of Rossetti's, and he drifted
to Ford Madox Brown's, in Fitzroy Square: "Once in a long while I
would take my gaiety, my sunniness, to Madox Brown's receptions. And
there were always the most wonderful people--the Blinds, Swinburne,
anarchists, poets and musicians, all kinds and sorts, and, in an inner
room, Rossetti and Mrs. Morris sitting side by side in state, being
worshipped, and, fluttering round them, Howell with a broad red ribbon
across his shirt-front, a Portuguese decoration hereditary in the
family."

According to his grandson, Mr. Ford Madox Hueffer, Ford Madox Brown
thought so much of Whistler's work that once, knowing Whistler wanted
money, he sent round among his friends a circular praising Whistler's
etchings and urging their purchase.

Whistler shared Rossetti's interest in the spiritual manifestations
that, for several years, agitated the circle at Tudor House. He told us
once of the strange things that happened when he went to _séances_ at
Rossetti's with Jo, and also when he and Jo tried the same things in
his studio, and a cousin from the South, long dead, talked to him and
told him much that no one else could have known. He believed, but he
gave up the _séances_ when they threatened to become engrossing, for he
felt that he would be obliged to sacrifice to them the work he had to
do in the world.

[Illustration: THE BLUE WAVE

OIL

In the possession of A. A. Pope, Esq.

(_See page 68_)]

[Illustration: THE FORGE

DRY-POINT. G. 68

(_See page 67_)]

The chief bond between Whistler and Rossetti was their love for blue
and white and Japanese prints. Whistler was in Paris in 1856, when
Bracquemond "discovered" Japan in a little volume of Hokusai used for
packing china, and rescued by Delâtre, the printer. It passed into the
hands of Laveille, the engraver, and from him Bracquemond obtained
it. After that, Bracquemond had the book always by him; and when in
1862 Madame Desoye, who, with her husband, had lived in Japan, opened
a shop under the arcades of the Rue de Rivoli, the enthusiasm spread
to Manet, Fantin, Tissot, Jacquemart and Solon, Baudelaire and the De
Goncourts. Rossetti was supposed to have made it the fashion. But the
fashion in Paris began before Rossetti owned his first blue pot or his
first colour-print. Whistler brought the knowledge and the love of the
art to London. "It was he who invented blue and white in London," Mr.
Murray Marks assured us, and Mr. W. M. Rossetti was as certain that his
brother was inspired by Whistler, who bought not only blue and white,
but sketch-books, colour-prints, lacquers, kakemonos, embroideries,
screens. "In his house in Chelsea, facing Battersea Bridge," Mr. Severn
writes, "he had lovely blue and white, Chinese and Japanese." The only
decorations, except the harmony of colour, were the prints on the
walls, a flight of Japanese fans in one place, in another shelves of
blue and white. People, copying him, stuck up fans anywhere, and hung
plates from wires. Whistler's fans were arranged for colour and line.
His decorations bewildered people even more than the work of the new
firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co. The Victorian artist covered
his walls with tapestry, filled his studio with costly things, and made
the public measure beauty by price, a fact overlooked by Whistler, but
never by Morris.

Rossetti joined in the hunt for blue and white. Henry Treffy Dunn, in
his _Recollections of Rossetti_, whose assistant he was, writes that
Rossetti and Whistler "each tried to outwit the other in picking up
the choicest pieces of blue to be met with"; that both were for ever
hunting for "Long Elizas," a name in which Mr. W. M. Rossetti thought
"possibly a witticism of Whistler's may be detected." Howell rushed in
and met with the most astounding experiences and adventures. A little
shop in the Strand was one of their favourite haunts, another was near
London Bridge where a Japanese print was given away with a pound of
tea. Farmer and Rogers had an Oriental warehouse in Regent Street. The
manager, Mr. Lazenby Liberty, afterwards opened one on the other side
of the street, and here, too, Whistler went, introduced to Mr. Liberty
by Rossetti. Mr. Liberty rendered him many a service, and visited him
to the last. Mr. Murray Marks imported blue and white, and he has told
us how the fever spread from Whistler and Rossetti to the ever-anxious
collector. Rossetti asked Mr. Marks if he knew anything about blue
and white. Mr. Marks said yes; he could get Rossetti a shipload if he
chose. Mr. Marks often ran over to Holland, where blue and white was
common and cheap, and he picked up a lot, offering it to Rossetti for
fifty pounds. Rossetti happened to be hard up and could not afford
it. But he came with Mr. Huth, who bought as much as Rossetti could
not take, and the rage for it began in England, Sir Henry Thompson,
among others, commencing to collect. The rivalry between Whistler and
Rossetti lasted for several years, until Rossetti, ill and broken,
hardly saw his friends, and until Mr. Marks, in the early seventies,
bought back from Whistler and Rossetti all he had sold them.



CHAPTER XI: CHELSEA DAYS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SIXTY-THREE TO EIGHTEEN
SIXTY-SIX CONTINUED.


In Whistler's correspondence with Fantin between 1860 and 1865,
published in part by M. Bénédite in the _Gazette des Beaux-Arts_
(1905), it can be seen that he was outgrowing the influence of Courbet,
and that his reaction against realism was bitter. In his revolt he
deliberately built up subjects that had nothing to do with life as he
knew it, and he borrowed the motives from Japan.

It was in the studio at No. 7 Lindsey Row--no huge, gorgeous,
tapestry-hung, _bric-à-brac_ crowded hall, but a little second
storey, or English first floor, back room--that the Japanese pictures
were painted. The method was a development of his earlier work. The
difference was in the subjects. He did not conceal his "machinery."
_The Lange Leizen_, _The Gold Screen_, _The Balcony_, the _Princesse
du Pays de la Porcelaine_ were endeavours to render a beauty he had
discovered which was unknown in Western life. There was no attempt at
the "learning" of Tadema or the "morality" of Holman Hunt. Whistler's
models were not Japanese. The lady of _The Lange Leizen_ sits on a
chair as she never would have sat in the land from which her costume
came, and the pots and trays and flowers around her are in a profusion
never seen in the houses of Tokio or Canton. In _The Gold Screen_ pose
and arrangement are equally inappropriate. The _Princesse_, in her
trailing robes, is as little Japanese. When he left the studio and took
his canvas to the front of the house and painted _The Balcony_, though
he clothed the English models in Eastern dress and gave them Eastern
instruments to play upon, and placed them before Japanese screens and
Anglo-Japanese railings, their background was the Thames with the
chimneys of Battersea. We have heard of a Chinese bamboo rack he used
for these railings, though some remember it as a studio property made
from his design. Nothing save the beauty of the detail mattered to
Whistler. It was not the real Japan he wanted to paint, but his idea of
it, just as Rembrandt painted his idea of the Holy Land.

The titles he afterwards found for these pictures are _Purple and
Rose_, _Caprice in Purple and Gold_, _Harmony in Flesh Colour and
Green_, _Rose and Silver_. Harmony was what he sought, though no
Dutchman surpassed their delicacy of detail, truth of texture,
intricacy of pattern. And yet we are conscious in them of artificial
structure as in none of his other work; the models do not live in their
Japanese draperies; Eastern detail is out of place on the banks of the
Thames; the device is too obvious.

The _Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine_ is the portrait of Miss
Christine Spartali, daughter of the Greek Consul-General in London,
whom Whistler met at Ionides', and to whose dinners and parties he
often went. There were two daughters, Christine (Countess Edmond de
Cahen) and Marie (Mrs. W. J. Stillman), both beautiful. Whistler and
Rossetti were struck by their beauty, and Whistler asked the younger
sister, Christine, to sit to him. Mrs. Stillman, who always accompanied
her, has told us the story of the picture. Before they came to the
studio Whistler had his scheme prepared. The Japanese robe was ready,
the rug and screen were in place, and he posed her at once. There are
a number of small studies and sketches in oil and pastel that show he
knew what he wanted. She sat twice a week during the winter of 1863-64.
At first the work went quickly, then it began to drag. Whistler often
rubbed it out just as she thought it finished, and day after day she
returned to find that everything was to be done over again. The parents
got tired, but not the two girls. Mrs. Stillman remembers that Whistler
partly closed the shutters so as to shut out the direct light; that
her sister stood at one end of the room, the canvas beside her; that
Whistler would look at the picture from a distance, then dash at it,
give one stroke, then dash away again. As a rule, they arrived about
half-past ten or a quarter to eleven; he painted steadily, forgetting
everything else, and it was often long after two before they lunched.
When lunch was served, it was brought into the studio, placed on a low
table, and they sat on stools. There were no such lunches anywhere.
Mrs. Whistler provided American dishes, strange in London; among other
things, raw tomatoes, a surprise to the Greek girls, who had never
eaten tomatoes except over-cooked as the Greeks liked them, and canned
apricots and cream, which they had never eaten at all. One _menu_ was
roast pheasants, followed by tomato salad, and the apricots and cream,
usually with champagne. One cannot wonder that there were occasional
deficits in the bank account at Lindsey Row. But it was not only the
things to eat and drink that made the hour a delight. Whistler, silent
when he worked, was gay at lunch. Perhaps better than his charm,
Mrs. Stillman remembers his devotion to his mother, who was calm and
dignified, with something of the sweet peacefulness of the Friends.
After lunch work was renewed, and it was four and later before they
were released.

The sittings went on until the sitter fell ill. Whistler was pitiless
with his models. The head in the _Princesse_ gave him most trouble.
He kept Miss Spartali standing while he worked at it, never letting
her rest; she must keep the entire pose, and she would not admit her
fatigue as long as she could help it. During her illness a model stood
for the gown, and when she was getting better he came one day and made
a pencil drawing of her head, though what became of it Mrs. Stillman
never knew. There were a few sittings after this, and at last the
picture was finished. The two girls wanted their father to buy it, but
Mr. Spartali did not like it. He objected to it as a portrait of his
daughter. Appreciation of art was not among the virtues of the London
Greeks. Alexander Ionides and his sons were almost alone in preferring
a good thing.

Rossetti, glad to be of service, tried to sell the picture. Whistler
agreed to take a hundred pounds, and Rossetti placed the canvas in his
studio, where it would be seen by a collector who was coming to look
at his work. The collector came, saw the _Princesse_, liked it, wanted
it. There was one objection: Whistler's signature in big letters across
the canvas. If Whistler would change the signature he would take the
picture. Rossetti, enchanted, hurried to tell Whistler. Whistler was
indignant. The request showed what manner of man the patron was, one
in whose possession he did not care to have any work of his. However,
Rossetti sold the _Princesse_ to another collector, who died shortly
afterwards, and then it was bought by Frederick Leyland, and so led to
the decoration of The Peacock Room.

It is possible that this objection helped Whistler to realise the
inharmonious effect of a large signature on a picture. It is sure that,
about this time, he began to arrange his initials somewhat after the
Japanese fashion. They were first interlaced in an oblong or circular
frame like the signatures of Japanese artists. He signed his name to
the earliest pictures, even to some of the Japanese. But with the
Nocturnes and the large portraits the Butterfly appeared, made from
working the letters J. M. W. into a design, which became more fantastic
until it evolved into the Butterfly in silhouette, and continued in
various forms. In the _Carlyle_ the Butterfly is enclosed in a round
frame, like a cut-out silhouette, behind the figure, and repeats the
prints on the wall. In the _Miss Alexander_ it is in a large semicircle
and is far more distinctly a butterfly. Then it grew like a stencil,
though in no sense was it one, as may be seen in M. Duret's portrait,
where the Butterfly is made simply in silhouette, on the background,
by a few touches of the rose of the opera cloak and the fan. It was
introduced as a note of colour, as important in the picture as any
other detail, and at times it was put in almost at the first painting
to judge the effect, scraped out with the whole thing, put in again
somewhere else, this repeated until he got it right. We have seen many
an unfinished picture with a wonderfully finished Butterfly, because it
was just where Whistler wanted it.

The same development can be traced in his etchings, in which it began
to appear as a bit of decoration. He originally signed the prints,
and signed the plates with his name and date bitten in. But later the
prints were signed with the Butterfly, followed by "_imp_," while the
Butterfly alone was etched on the copper or drawn on the stone. Then he
added the Butterfly to his signature to letters and his dedication on
prints. And the Butterfly found its way to his invitation cards, and at
last his correspondence, public and private, was usually signed with
the Butterfly alone. This was elaborated ingeniously in The _Gentle Art
of Making Enemies_, the Butterfly not only decorating, but punctuating
the paragraphs. Rumour says that Whistler went so far as to sign his
cheques with the Butterfly, and that once, having signed a cheque for
thirty-two francs in this manner, the man to whom it was paid demanded
a more conventional signature. Whistler, provoked by the suggestion of
doubt, wrote his name, knowing the bank would not then accept it, and
was more provoked when he found the rare autograph had been sold within
a day for eleven hundred and fifty francs. But rumour is probably
wrong: on all the formal letters and documents we have seen, his name,
and not the Butterfly, is used.

On the frames of early pictures Japanese patterns were painted in red
or blue on the flat gold, and a Butterfly placed on them, in relation
to the picture. He designed the frames, and they were carried out by
the Greaves, who also copied his designs at Streatham Town Hall, which
they decorated thirty years later. Shortly before his death, a few
were done by his stepson, E. Godwin. The _Sarasate_, in Pittsburg,
is an excellent example, and so is the _Battersea Bridge_ at the
Tate Gallery. Whistler applied a similar scheme to his etchings,
water-colours, and pastels, reddish or bluish lines, and at times the
Butterfly, appearing on the white or gold of their frames. Certain
people want to make out that Whistler got the idea from Rossetti.
It might as well be said that Rossetti got it from the beginning of
the world. There is nothing new in the idea. Artists always have
decorated special frames for special pictures, and Whistler only
carried on tradition when he designed frames in harmony with his work
and varied them according to the pictures for which they were used.
In after years he gave up almost entirely these painted frames, and
for his paintings substituted a simple gold frame, with parallel
reeded lines, now universally known as "the Whistler frame." For his
etchings and lithographs he chose a plain white frame in two planes.
His canvases and his panels were always of the same sizes; consequently
they always fitted his frames. And in his studio, as in few, if any
others, frequently there might be half a hundred canvases with their
faces to the wall, and only half a dozen frames. But they all fitted,
and Whistler never showed his work unframed. This was the outcome
of Japanese influence, and of his knowledge of the way the Japanese
display their art. His deference to Japanese convention went so far
that he put a branch of a tree or a reed into the foreground of his
seas and rivers as decoration, in early work, with no reference to the
picture, sometimes the only Japanese suggestion in the design.

_The Lange Leizen--of the Six Marks_ went to the Academy of 1864, with
_Wapping_. The critic of the _Athenæum_, to whom the Japanese subject
seemed "quaint" and the drawing "preposterously incorrect," could not
deny the "superb colouring" and the "beautiful harmonies," nor fail
to see in Wapping an "incomparable view of the Lower Pool of London."
"Never before was that familiar scene so triumphantly well painted,"
Mr. W. M. Rossetti wrote.

Whistler did not send to the _Salon_ of 1864, in which Fantin showed
his now famous _Hommage à Delacroix_, who had died in 1863. Whistler
was among the several admirers whom Fantin painted round the portrait
of the dead master. Whistler wanted Fantin to find a place for
Rossetti, who would be proud to pose, and Fantin was willing, but
Rossetti could not get to Paris. There was also talk of including
Swinburne. Unfortunately for both, they were left out of one of
the most celebrated portrait groups of modern times, now in the
Moreau-Nélaton Collection in the Louvre. The distinguished artists and
men of letters were there nominally out of respect to Delacroix, but
really to enable Fantin to justify his belief in the beauty of life
as it is, and his protest against the classical dictionary and studio
properties. Most of them were, or have since become, famous: Whistler,
Manet, Legros, Bracquemond, Fantin, Baudelaire, Duranty, Champfleury,
Cordier, De Balleroy. Fantin painted them in the costume of the time,
as Rembrandt and Hals and Van der Helst, from whom he is said to have
taken the idea, painted the regents and archers of seventeenth-century
Holland. Fantin's white shirt is the one concession to picturesqueness,
and the one relief to the severity of detail are the flowers held by
Whistler, a lithe, erect, youthful figure, with fine, keen face and
abundant hair. That the young American should be the centre of the
group was a distinction. When Rossetti saw the picture, he wrote to
his brother that it had "a great deal of very able painting in parts,
but it is a great slovenly scrawl after all, like the rest of this
incredible new school."

Whistler was already working out of the artificial scheme of the
Japanese pictures into a phase in which he was more himself than he
had ever been. The next year, 1865, he sent to the Academy the most
complete, the most perfect picture he ever painted, _The Little White
Girl_, which will always be recognised as one of the few great pictures
of the world. It was dated 1864, and there are reproductions showing
the date. But about 1900 he painted it out. He had been working on the
picture, he told us, and "did not see the use of those great figures
sprawling there." Jo was the model. Now, there was no masquerading in
foreign finery. Whistler painted her as he must often have seen her, in
her simple white gown, leaning against the mantel, her beautiful face
reflected in the mirror. The room was not littered with his purchases
from the little shops in the Strand and the Rue de Rivoli. Japan is in
the detail of blue and white on the mantel; the girl holds a Japanese
fan; a spray of azalea trails across her dress. But these were part
of Whistler's house, part of the reality he had created for himself,
and he made them no more beautiful than the mantel, the grate, the
reflection in the mirror. There was no building up, he painted what he
saw. And there was in the handling an advance. The paint is thinner on
the canvas, the brush flows more freely.

Swinburne saw the picture and wrote _Before the Mirror: Verses under
a Picture_. The poem was printed on gold paper, pasted on the frame,
which has disappeared, but we have a contemporary photograph showing
the arrangement, and two verses were inserted in the Academy catalogue
as sub-title. What Swinburne thought of the picture may be read in a
letter he wrote to Ruskin in the summer of 1865 (_Library Edition of
the Works of Ruskin_), in which he says that many, especially Dante
Rossetti, told him his verses were better than the painting, and that
Whistler ranked them far above it. But a closer examination of the
picture only convinced him of its greater beauty, and he would stand up
for Whistler against Whistler and everybody else.

[Illustration: THE MORNING BEFORE THE MASSACRE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW

WOOD-ENGRAVING BY J. SWAIN FROM "ONCE A WEEK," VOL. VII, P. 210

(_See page 71_)]

[Illustration: THE LAST OF OLD WESTMINSTER

OIL

In the possession of A. A. Pope, Esq

(_See page 72_).]

Swinburne's poem and praise could not make _The Little White Girl_ at
the Academy better understood than _The White Girl_ had been in Berners
Street. The rare few could appreciate its "charm" and "exquisiteness"
with Mr. W. M. Rossetti, who found that it was "crucially tested by
its proximity to the flashing white in Mr. Millais' _Esther_," but
that it stood the test, "retorting delicious harmony for daring force,
and would shame any other contrast." But the general opinion was the
other way. The _Athenæum_ distinguished itself by regretting that
Whistler should make the "most 'bizarre' of bipeds" out of the women
he painted. There was praise for two other pictures. "Subtle beauty
of colour" and "almost mystical delicacy of tone" were discovered in
_The Gold Screen_, and "colour such as painters love" in the _Old
Battersea Bridge_, afterwards _Brown and Silver_. This is the beautiful
Battersea, with the touch of red in the roofs of the opposite shore,
the link between the early paintings on the river and the Nocturnes
that were to follow. _The Scarf_, a picture we do not recognise,
attracted less attention, and Whistler, the year before, declared "one
of the most original artists of the day" was now dismissed as one who
"might be called half a great artist."

Stranger than this was the change in the attitude of the French
critics. In 1863 they overwhelmed him with praise. Two years later they
had hardly a good word for him. Levi Legrange, forgotten as he merits,
wrote the criticism of the Royal Academy of 1865 for the _Gazette des
Beaux-Arts_, and all he could see in _The Little White Girl_ was a weak
repetition of _The White Girl_, a wearisome variation of the theme of
white; really, he said, it was quite witty of the Academicians, who
could have refused it and the two Japanese pictures, to give them good
places and so deliver them to judgment. And then he praised Horsley and
Prinsep, Leslie and Landseer. The _Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine_,
in the _Salon_, made no more favourable impression. It seemed a study
of costume to Paul Mantz, who, in the _Gazette des Beaux-Arts_, decided
to forget it and remember merely the mysterious seduction of _The
White Girl_ of two years before. Its eccentricity was only possible
if taken in small doses like the hom[oe]opathist's pills, according to
the incredible Jules Claretie, who, in the same article in _L'Artiste_,
laughed at Manet's _Olympia_. For more than twenty years Whistler was
hated in France.

In this _Salon_, 1865, Fantin showed his _Hommage à la Vérité--Le
Toast_, the second of his two large groups including Whistler's
portrait. In it he strayed so far from the real as to introduce an
allegorical figure of Truth, and to allow Whistler to array himself
in a gorgeous Chinese robe. "_Pense à la robe, superbe à faire, et
donne la moi!_" Whistler urged from London, and Fantin yielded. "_Je
l'ai encore revu dans l'atelier en 1865, il me posa dans un tableau
aujourd'hui détruit, 'Le Toast,' où il était costumé d'une robe
japonaise_," is Fantin's story of it in the notes to us, but Whistler,
writing at the time, speaks of the costume as Chinese. He brought it to
Paris for the sittings. Fantin was quick to regret his concessions. An
allegorical figure could not be made real, the whole thing was absurd.
When he got the canvas back he destroyed it, all but the portraits
of Whistler, Vollon, and himself. Whistler's is now in the Freer
Collection.

In the spring of 1865 Whistler was joined in London by his younger
brother. Dr. Whistler had distinguished himself in the Confederate Army
as a surgeon and by bravery in the field. He had served in Richmond
Hospitals and in Libby Prison; he had been assistant-surgeon at
Drewry's Bluff, and in 1864, when Grant made his move against Richmond,
he had been assigned to Orr's Rifles, a celebrated South Carolina
regiment. In the early winter of 1865 a few months' furlough was given
him, and he was entrusted by the Confederate Government with important
despatches to England. Sherman's advance prevented his running the
blockade from Charleston, nor was there any passing through the lines
from Wilmington by sea. He was obliged to go North through Maryland,
which meant making his way round Grant's lines. The difficulties and
dangers were endless. He had to get rid of his Confederate uniform, and
in the state of Confederate finance the most modest suit of clothes
cost fourteen hundred dollars; for a seat in a waggon he had to pay
five hundred. The trains were crowded with officials and soldiers,
and he could get a ride in them only by stealth. The roads were
abominable, for driving or riding or walking. Often he was alone, and
his one companion toward the North was a fellow soldier who had lost
a leg at Antietam and was trying to get to Philadelphia for repairs
to an artificial one. Stanton's expedition filled the country near
the Rappahannock with snares and pitfalls; to cross Chesapeake Bay
was to take one's life in one's hand; and north of the Bay were the
enrolling officers of the Union in search of conscripts. However,
Philadelphia was at last reached and a ticket for New York bought at
the railroad depot, where two sentries, with bayonets fixed, guarded
the ticket-office, and might, for all Dr. Whistler knew, have seen
him in Libby Prison. In New York he took passage on the _City of
Manchester_, and from Liverpool he hurried to London. One week later
came the news of the fall of Richmond and the Confederacy. The furlough
was over. There was no going back. It was probably about this time,
from the costume and the technical resemblance to Mr. Luke Ionides'
portrait, that Whistler painted a head of Dr. Whistler--_Portrait of my
Brother_--now owned by Mr. Burton Mansfield, though it should and might
have been in the National Gallery in Washington.

Early in September 1865, Whistler's mother was suffering from trouble
with her eyes, and went with her two sons to Coblentz to consult an
oculist, and this gave Whistler the chance to revisit some of the
scenes of the French Set of etchings. After that he spent a month or
two at Trouville, where he was joined by Courbet. Whistler's work
shows how far he had drifted away, though the two were always friends.
In _Sea and Rain_, done at Trouville, there is not a suggestion of
Courbet. But we have seen a sea by Courbet, owned by M. Duret, that
Whistler might have signed. Jo was there too. The sea-pieces he had
begun, including _Courbet on the Shore_, promised great things, he
wrote to Mr. Luke Ionides, and as the autumn went on the place was more
quiet for work, and the seas and skies more wonderful. He did not get
back to London until November. A few months later, early in 1866, he
sailed for Valparaiso.

This journey to Valparaiso is the most unaccountable adventure in his
sometimes unaccountable career. Various reasons for it have been given:
health, a quarrel, restlessness, a whim. But we tell the story as he
told it to us:

"It was a moment when many of the adventurers the war had made of
many Southerners were knocking about London hunting for something to
do, and, I hardly knew how, but the something resolved itself into
an expedition to go and help the Chilians and, I cannot say why, the
Peruvians, too. Anyhow, there were South Americans to be helped against
the Spaniards. Some of these people came to me, as a West Point man,
and asked me to join--and it was all done in an afternoon. I was off at
once in a steamer from Southampton to Panama. We crossed the Isthmus,
and it was all very awful--earthquakes and things--and I vowed, once I
got home, that nothing would ever bring me back again.

"I found myself in Valparaiso and in Santiago, and I called on the
President, or whoever the person then in authority was. After that
came the bombardment. There was the beautiful bay with its curving
shores, the town of Valparaiso on one side, on the other the long line
of hills. And there, just at the entrance of the bay, was the Spanish
fleet, and, in between, the English fleet, and the French fleet, and
the American fleet, and the Russian fleet, and all the other fleets.
And when the morning came, with great circles and sweeps, they sailed
out into the open sea, until the Spanish fleet alone remained. It
drew up right in front of the town, and bang went a shell, and the
bombardment began. The Chilians didn't pretend to defend themselves.
The people all got out of the way, and I and the officials, rode to
the opposite hills, where we could look on. The Spaniards conducted
the performance in the most gentlemanly fashion; they just set fire to
a few of the houses, and once, with some sense of fun, sent a shell
whizzing over toward our hills. And then I knew what a panic was. I and
the officials turned and rode as hard as we could, anyhow, anywhere.
The riding was splendid, and I, as a West Point man, was head of the
procession. By noon the performance was over. The Spanish fleet sailed
again into position, the other fleets sailed in, sailors landed to help
put out the fires, and I and the officials rode back into Valparaiso.
All the little girls of the town had turned out, waiting for us, and as
we rode in called us 'Cowards!' The _Henriquetta_, the ship fitted up
in London, did not appear till long after, and then we breakfasted, and
that was the end of it."

Mr. Theodore Roussel says Whistler told him that, on another occasion,
he got on one of the defending gunboats and had his baptism of fire
amid a rain of shot and shell, and that then, as we have said, the
white lock appeared, a fact which, fine as it is, Whistler omitted from
his story to us.

He made good use of his time in Valparaiso, and painted the three
pictures of the harbour which are known and two others which have
disappeared. These he gave to the steward or the purser of the ship
to bring home, and the purser kept them. Once they were seen in his
house in London by someone who recognised Whistler's work. "Why, they
must be by Whistler!" he said. "Who's Whistler?" asked the purser. "An
artist," said the other. "Oh, no," said the purser, "they were painted
by a gentleman." The purser started back for South America, and took
them with him. "And then a tidal wave met the ship and swept off the
purser, the cabin, and the Whistlers." But we believe that one of these
pictures is now in the United States.

The voyage back was vaguer than the voyage out. From this vagueness
looms one figure: the Marquis de Marmalade, a black man from Hayti,
who made himself obnoxious to Whistler, apparently by his colour and
his swagger. One day Whistler kicked him across the deck to the top of
the companion way, and there sat a lady who proved an obstacle for the
moment. But Whistler just picked up the Marquis de Marmalade, dropped
him on the step below her, and finished kicking him downstairs. After
that Whistler spent the rest of the journey, not exactly in irons, but
chiefly in his cabin.

The final adventure of the journey was in London. Whistler never told
us, but everybody else says that when he got out of the train at
Euston, or Waterloo, someone besides his friends was waiting: whether
the captain of the ship, or relations of the Marquis de Marmalade, or
an old enemy makes little difference. Somebody got a thrashing, and
this was the end to the most unaccountable episode in Whistler's life.



CHAPTER XII: CHELSEA DAYS CONTINUED. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SIXTY-SIX TO
EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-TWO.


It was late in 1866 when Whistler returned from Valparaiso. Soon after
he moved into No. 2,[4] at the east end of Lindsey Row, now
No. 96 Cheyne Walk. It was a three-storey house with an attic, part of
the old palace remodelled, and, like No. 7, it looked on the river.
Here he lived longer than anywhere else; here he painted the Nocturnes
and the great portraits; here he gave his Sunday breakfasts. He had a
house-warming on February 5 (1867), when the two Rossettis dined with
him, and Mr. W. M. Rossetti wrote in his diary:

"There are some fine old fixtures, such as doors, fireplaces, and
Whistler has got up the rooms with many delightful Japanesisms. Saw
for the first time his pagoda cabinet. He has two or three sea-pieces
new to me: one, on which he particularly lays stress, larger than the
others, a very grey unbroken sea [probably _Sea and Rain_], also a
clever vivacious portrait of himself begun."

No doubt this is the portrait in round hat, with paint-brushes in his
hand.

Mr. Greaves says that the dining-room at No. 2 was blue, with a darker
blue dado and doors, and purple Japanese fans tacked on the walls and
ceiling; other friends remember "a fluttering of purple fans." One
evening Miss Chapman was dining, and Whistler, wanting her to see
the view up the river from the other end of the bridge, told her he
would show her something "as lovely as a fan!" The studio, again the
second-storey back room, was grey, with black dado and doors; from the
_Mother_ and the _Carlyle_ one knows that Japanese hangings and his
prints were on the walls; and in it was the big screen he painted for
Leyland but kept for himself, with Battersea Bridge across the top,
Chelsea Church beyond, and a great gold moon in the deep blue sky. The
stairs were covered with Dutch metal. He slept in a huge Chinese bed.
Beautiful silver was on his table. He ate off blue and white. "Suppose
one of these plates was smashed?" Miss Chapman asked Whistler once.
"Why, then, you know," he said, "we might as well all take hands and go
throw ourselves into the Thames!"

The beauty of the decoration, as at No. 7, was its simplicity.
Rossetti's house was a museum, an antiquity shop, in comparison. The
simplicity seemed the more bewildering because it was the growth, not
of weeks, but of years. The drawing-room was not painted until the
day of Whistler's first dinner-party. In the morning he sent for the
brothers Greaves to help him. "It will never be dry in time!" they
feared. "What matter?" said Whistler, "it will be beautiful!" "We three
worked like mad," is Mr. Walter Greaves' account, and by evening the
walls were flushed with flesh-colour, pale yellow, and white spread
over doors and woodwork, and we have heard gowns and coats too were
touched with flesh-colour and yellow before the evening was at an end.
One Sunday morning Whistler, after he had taken his mother to Chelsea
Church, as he always did, again sent for his pupils and painted a
great ship with spreading sails in each of the two panels at the end
of the hall; the ships are said to be still on the wall covered up.
His mother was not so pleased when, on her return, she saw the blue
and white harmony, for she would have had him put away his brushes on
Sunday as once she put away his toys. But she had many other trials and
revelations: coming into the studio one day, she found the parlour-maid
posing for "the all-over!" The ships were in place long before the
dado of hall and stairway was covered with gold and sprinkled with
rose and white chrysanthemum petals. Miss Alexander (Mrs. Spring-Rice)
saw Whistler at work upon it when she came to sit, and he had lived
six years at No. 2. Whistler's houses were never completely decorated
and furnished; they had a look as if he had just moved in or was just
moving out. But what was decorated was beautiful.

Whistler sent to the exhibitions of 1867, in London and Paris. He
began the year by showing at the French Gallery, in January, one of
the paintings of Valparaiso: _Crépuscule in Flesh Colour and Green_.
It is the long picture of Valparaiso Harbour in the early evening,
ships moored with partly furled sails; the first painting of twilight,
and one of the first paintings carried out in the liquid manner of the
Nocturnes. There were critics to call it a poem "in colour," though
Whistler had not taught them to look for the "painter's poetry" in his
work. The upright Valparaiso, a perfect Nocturne, was done at the same
time, 1866, but not exhibited until later, and there is an unfinished
version of the same subject.

In the _Salon_ of 1867, where it had been rejected eight years before,
_At the Piano_ was accepted, and also _The Thames in Ice--Sur la
Tamise: l'Hiver_. It was the year of the French Universal Exhibition.
M. Duret writes that probably Mr. George Lucas spoke of Whistler to
Mr. Avery, the United States Art Commissioner at the Exhibition. The
result was that a number of his etchings and four pictures were hung:
_The White Girl_, _Wapping or On the Thames_, _Old Battersea Bridge_,
_Twilight on the Ocean_, the title then of the _Crépuscule in Flesh
Colour and Green_. The Hudson River School dominated American art, and
Whistler's paintings had to compete with the big _machines_ of Church
and Bierstadt. Tuckerman, in his _Book of the Artists_, quotes an
unnamed American critic who, in 1867, found that Whistler's etchings
differed from his paintings in meriting the attention they attracted,
but he could see in the _Marines_ only "blurred, foggy imperfections,"
and in _The White Girl_ only "a powerful female with red hair, and
a vacant stare in her soulless eyes. She is standing on a wolfskin
hearthrug, for what reason is unrecorded. The picture evidently
means vastly more than it expresses--albeit expressing too much.
Notwithstanding an obvious want of purpose, there is some boldness in
the handling, and singularity in the glare of the colours which cannot
fail to divert the eye and weary it."

Americans were not treated with respect by the Hanging Committee. Their
work was put in corridors and dark corners, and Whistler suffered.
French critics, enthusiastic over his pictures four years earlier, were
now no more appreciative than the American. Paul Mantz was distressed
by the "strange white apparition" upon which, at the _Salon des
Refusés_, he had lavished his praise. Burty thought that either time
exaggerated the defects of the prints or else critical eyes had lost
their indulgence, for the etchings were photographic and had a dryness
and minuteness due to the early training of "Mr. Whystler." Both wrote
in the _Gazette des Beaux-Arts_. Mr. Avery, however, had the sense to
appreciate the etchings, and it was probably at this time he commenced
his great collection, now in the New York Public Library.

Whistler and his brother, the Doctor, went to Paris in April. There
they heard of the sudden death of Traer, Seymour Haden's assistant,
and a member of the British Jury, on which Haden also served. Whistler
liked Traer, and the circumstances of his death and burial led to a
misunderstanding between the two brothers and the brother-in-law. The
three met. The dispute was short and sharp; the result, a summons for
the brothers to appear before a _juge de paix_. Whistler had been in
the same court a few days earlier. A workman had dropped plaster on
him as he passed through a narrow street in the Latin Quarter, and he
had met the offence in the only way possible according to his code.
Whistler sent for the American Minister, and the magistrate apologised.
When he appeared again, "_Connu!_" said the judge, and there was
no apology, but a fine. Haden said he fell through a plate-glass
window, Whistler that he knocked him through. Haden maintained that
both brothers were against him, Whistler that he demolished Haden
single-handed.

It happened just when London gossip got hold of the story of the
Marquis de Marmalade and Whistler's return from Valparaiso. Dr. Moncure
Conway, in his _Reminiscences_, recalls a dinner given by Dante
Rossetti to W. J. Stillman, in the winter of 1867, when "Whistler (a
Confederate) related with satisfaction his fisticuff with a Yankee
[really the black Marquis] on shipboard, William Rossetti remarked: 'I
must say, Whistler, that your conduct was scandalous.' (Stillman and
myself were silent.) Dante Gabriel promptly wrote:

'_There's a combative Artist named Whistler
 Who is, like his own hog-hairs, a bristler:
      A tube of white lead
      And a punch on the head
 Offer varied attractions to Whistler.'_"

It was at this time, too, that Whistler had a difference with Legros,
to which no reference would be made had it not also become a legend.
Friends tried to reconcile them and succeeded badly. The rumours
spread, and Whistler began to be talked of as quarrelsome. Haden,
when he got back to London, resigned his post as Honorary Surgeon to
South Kensington Museum, printed a pamphlet to explain, and threatened
to resign from the Burlington Fine Arts Club, of which both he and
Whistler were members, unless Whistler was expelled. The Burlington
Club wrote to Whistler that if he did not resign they would have
to consider his expulsion. Both the Rossettis considered this very
improper, and when Whistler's expulsion was voted by eighteen against
eight, William Michael Rossetti handed in his resignation at once and
Dante Rossetti sent in his two or three days later.

Whistler's manner of resenting injury had a great deal to do with the
way he was later treated in England. He explained his code to a friend:
"If a man gives you the lie to your face, why, naturally you hit him."
People who did not know him became afraid of him, and this fear grew
and was the reason of the reputation that clung to him for years and
clings to his memory.

Before Whistler's pictures went to the Royal Academy, Mr. W. M.
Rossetti saw them: "_March 31_ (1867). To see Whistler's pictures for
the R.A. To the R.A. he means to send _Symphony in White, No. III._
(heretofore named _The Two Little White Girls_), and a Thames picture;
possibly also one of the four sea pictures; and I rather recommend him
to select the largest of these, which he regards with predilection, of
a grey sea and a very grey sky."

_Battersea_ was the Thames picture; _Sea and Rain_, painted while
Whistler and Courbet worked together at Trouville, the sea picture; and
_The Two Little White Girls_ was sent under its new name, _Symphony in
White, No. III._--the first time one of his pictures was catalogued as
a Symphony, his first use of a title borrowed from musical terms to
explain his pictorial intention.

Baudelaire had given the hint in prose, Gautier had written
_Symphonies_ in verse, Murger's Bohemians had composed a _Symphonie sur
l'influence de bleu dans les arts_. In 1863 Paul Mantz had described
_The White Girl_ as a "Symphony in White." There can be no doubt that
from these things Whistler got the idea. It was the third variation
of white upon white. The difference was in the thin liquid paint.
The critic of the _Athenæum_ had the sense to thank the "painter who
endeavours by any means to show people what he really aims at." But
he was almost alone. Burty, in noticing the Academy of 1867 for the
_Gazette des Beaux-Arts_, thought the Academy's hanging Whistler at all
a fine piece of irony, and regretted the painter's failure to fulfil
his early promise.

Hamerton, in the _Saturday Review_, June 1, 1867, represented the
feeling of the insulted, solemn, bewildered Islanders: "There are many
dainty varieties of tint, but it is not precisely a symphony in white.
One lady has a yellowish dress and brown hair and a bit of blue ribbon;
the other has a red fan, and there are flowers and green leaves. There
is a girl in white on a white sofa, but even this girl has reddish
hair; and, of course, there is the flesh-colour of the complexions."

Whistler answered in a letter, not printed, however, until it appeared
in the _Art Journal_ (April 1887): "_Bon Dieu!_ did this wise person
expect white hair and chalked faces? And does he then, in his
astounding consequence, believe that a symphony in F contains no other
note, but shall be a continued repetition of F F F?... Fool!"

Whistler knew that to carry on tradition was the artist's business.
Rembrandt, Hals, Velasquez, Claude, Canaletto, Guardi, Hogarth,
Courbet, the Japanese, in turn influenced him. Some see, at this
period, the influence of Albert Moore, which, if it existed, was as
ephemeral and superficial as Rossetti's. It could be argued with more
truth that Whistler influenced Albert Moore, who, in at least two
pictures, _Harmony of Orange and Pale Yellow_, _Variation of Blue and
Gold_, borrowed Whistler's titles. Whistler also knew that the end of
all study of the masters should be to evolve something personal, and,
in the endeavour to develop his personality, he was passing through
experiments and working through difficulties. All this is in his
letters to Fantin. A fourth _Symphony in White_ was started: the _Three
Figures_. In the _Two Girls_, he wrote to Fantin, the harmony was
repeated in line and in colour, and he sent a sketch of it. He exulted
in the rhythm of line; he despaired because he could not get it right.
The picture was scraped out and rubbed down, then repainted, and with
each fresh difficulty he deplored the mistakes of his early training.
Mr. Eddy writes that Whistler used to call Ingres the "_bourgeois_
Greek." This we never heard him say, nor is there any such want of
respect in his letters to Fantin, for there he expresses regret that he
"did not study under Ingres," whose work he may have liked moderately,
"but from whom I would have learned to draw": which was absurd modesty,
for he drew better than Ingres, if not so academically, as his etchings
prove. He never execrated Courbet and denounced _ce damné Réalisme_
so violently as in the autumn of 1867. This was not quite fair, for
Realism had brought Courbet to the conclusions which Whistler, unaided,
was now reaching: that knowledge of art, ancient and modern, has no
end save the development of individuality, and that the artist is
to go to Nature for inspiration, but to take from her only life and
beauty. Whistler, in his impatience, recalled Realism as practised by
the young enthusiasts gathered about Courbet, and denied that Courbet
influenced him. "_Ca ne pouvait pas être autrement, parce que je suis
très personnel, et que j'ai été riche en qualités qu'il n'avait pas
et qui me suffisaient._" The cry of Nature had appealed to his vanity,
Whistler said, and so he had mocked at tradition, and in his early work
had copied Nature with the self-confidence of "_l'écolier débauché_."
If at one moment he boasted that the race was for Fantin and himself,
because in art, as at the Derby, "_c'est le pur sang qui gagné_," the
next he chafed over the time he had lost before discovering that art
is not the exact reproduction of Nature, but its interpretation, and
that the artist must seek his motives in Nature and weave from them a
pattern on his canvas. He praised Fantin's flowers because he saw in
them this pattern. Passages in the letters are the basis of _The Ten
O'Clock_. His definition of the relation of drawing to colour--"_son
amant, mais aussi son maître_"--suggests the later definition of the
relation of the artist to Nature: "her son in that he loves her, her
master in that he knows her." Whistler used the same ideas in his talk,
in his letters, in his pamphlets, perfecting it.

It was the period of transition. Those who saw him know how hard he
worked, and how he was discouraged. For a while he lived with Mr.
Frederick Jameson. He never spoke to us of this interval away from
Lindsey Row. Mr. Jameson says it was 1868 or 1869; most likely the
winter of 1867-68, when Mrs. Whistler went home to visit her family,
left poor by the war. Mr. Jameson lived at 62 Great Russell Street,
Bloomsbury, in rooms that had first been Burne-Jones', and afterwards
Poynter's. Mr. Jameson writes us:

"The seven months Whistler and I lived together were unproductive and
uneventful. He was working at some Japanese pictures, one of which,
quite unfinished, was hung at the London Memorial Exhibition. I have
seen large portions of it apparently finished, but they never satisfied
him, and were shaved down to the bed-rock mercilessly. The man, as I
knew him, was so different from the descriptions and presentations
I have read of him that I would like to speak of the other side of
his character. It is impossible to conceive of a more unfailingly
courteous, considerate, and delightful companion than Whistler, as I
found him. We lived in great intimacy, and the studio was always open
to me, whatever he was doing. We had all our meals together, except
when elsewhere engaged, and I never heard a complaint of anything in
our simple household arrangements from him. Any little failure was
treated as a joke. His courtesy to servants and models was particularly
charming; indeed, I can't conceive of his quarrelling with anyone
without real provocation. His talk about his own work revealed a very
different man to me from the self-satisfied man he is usually believed
to have been. He knew his powers, of course, but he was painfully aware
of his defects--in drawing, for instance. I can remember with verbal
accuracy some very striking talks we had on the subject. To my judgment
he was the most absolutely truthful man about himself that I ever met.
I never knew him to hide an opinion or a thought, nor to try to excuse
an action."

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF WHISTLER BY HIMSELF

CHALK DRAWING

Formerly in the possession of Thomas Way, Esq.

(_See page 79_)]

[Illustration:

DRY-POINT. G. 92

STUDY IN CHALK

Formerly in the possession of B. B. MacGeorge, Esq.

WEARY

(_See page 73_)]

The picture Mr. Jameson refers to was called _Three Figures, Pink and
Grey_,[5] in the London Memorial Exhibition. It alone was carried out
of the _Six_ or _Eight Schemes_ or _Projects_ in which Whistler was
trying to combine Japanese and classical motives, expressing a beauty
of form and design that haunted him, and was perhaps best realised in
some of the pastel studies. He never ceased to make these studies.
There are pastels, chalk drawings, and etchings in which the separate
figures of the _Projects_ may be found, studies for the series; one was
worked out as a fan, another like a cameo. The second version of the
_Three Figures_, enlarged from a smaller design, Whistler explained to
Mr. Alan S. Cole, was an arrangement he wanted to paint, and he then
drew, with a sweep of the brush, the back of the stooping figure to
show what he meant. W. M. Rossetti most likely referred to it when he
wrote in his diary for July 28, 1867:

"Whistler is doing on a largish scale for Leyland the subject of women
with flowers, and has made coloured sketches of four or five other
subjects of the like class, very promising in point of conception of
colour and arrangement."

The _Projects_ were his first scheme of decoration for Leyland. The
canvases are about the same size. They are painted with liquid colour,
the canvas often showing through. The handling in all save the _Venus_,
shown in the Paris Memorial Exhibition and worked on in his later
years, is more direct than anything he ever did. They have the same
relation to his pictures as the sketches of Rubens and Tiepolo to
their decorations. The _Venus_ is a single figure, the rest are groups
arranged against a balustrade, round a vase of flowers, or on the sands
by the sea. Their floating draperies give the scheme of
colour. The experience gained in making these designs was of immense
use in the Nocturnes, for the technique is the same, and the same
treatment is in the pile of drapery of the _Miss Alexander_. He did not
give up until much later this method of painting. The complete series
had never been seen publicly before the Paris Memorial Exhibition. They
belong to Mr. Freer.

During all his life, till he was given a commission for a panel in the
Boston Public Library, Whistler hoped to have the chance to execute a
great decorative scheme. When the Central Gallery at the Victoria and
Albert Museum was being decorated, Sir Henry Cole asked him to design
one of the mosaic panels. For this, in the winter of 1873, he made a
pastel, a richly robed figure carrying a Japanese umbrella. The scheme
was in blue, purple, and gold, and a pastel study for it was shown at
the London Memorial Exhibition as _Design for a Mosaic_. He spoke of
it at the time as _The Gold Girl_. The design was to be enlarged and
put on canvas by the brothers Greaves. Sir Henry Cole offered him a
studio in the Museum when he was ready to begin his cartoon. "You know,
Sir Henry Cole always liked me, and I told him he ought to provide me
with a fine studio--it would be an honour to me--and to the Museum!"
But models broke down, the fog settled over London, he wanted to get
through his Academy picture, he was called to Paris. Whether the
cartoon was finished, or whether it was found out of keeping with the
_machines_ of Royal Academicians in the Central Gallery, is not known.
But the decoration was never done.

Hamerton's _Etching and Etchers_ was published in 1868. Shortly before,
he wrote to Whistler: "I wonder whether you would object to lend me a
set of proofs for a few weeks. As the book is already advanced I should
be glad of an early reply. My opinion of your work is, on the whole, so
favourable that your reputation could only gain by your affording me
the opportunity of speaking of your work at length."

Whistler took no notice of the request at the time, but printed
it years afterwards as the _Unanswered Letter_ in _The Gentle
Art_. Hamerton, unused to being ignored by artists, expressed his
astonishment in his book: "I have been told that, if application is
made by letter to Mr. Whistler for a set of his etchings, he may,
perhaps, if he chooses to answer the letter, do the applicant the
favour to let him have a copy for about the price of a good horse."

His praise was never without qualification. He saw in Whistler a
strikingly imperfect artist, self-concentrated, without range or
poetical feeling, whose work was rarely affecting, and most of these
remarks were reprinted by Whistler with the _Unanswered Letter_ as
_Inconsequences_. In the end Whistler let Hamerton have a plate,
_Billingsgate_, in its third state, published in the _Portfolio_
(January 1878), and, two years after, in the third edition of _Etching
and Etchers_ (1880).

Hamerton, patronising in his estimate of Whistler's work, exaggerated
in his comments on Whistler's prices. Success never induced Whistler
deliberately to increase the price of his etchings by making them rare,
in the fashion of the young men of to-day. It was different with his
dry-points, the number of impressions being limited. Mr. Percy Thomas
says that Whistler would throw them on the floor at Lindsey Row and
consider them. "I think for this we must say five guineas, and for this
six, and for this I must say--ten!" But Mr. Thomas remembers only one
attempt to create a price. He had been sent from Bond Street to Lindsey
Row with prints for Whistler to sign, and the next day he returned for
them. Whistler and Mrs. Whistler were sitting together, silent and
sad, and Whistler hurried from the studio without a word. "But what is
it? What has happened?" Mr. Thomas asked, and Mrs. Whistler explained
that Whistler had thrown the prints into the fire, thinking it would
be a good thing to make them rare, and had been miserable since. If he
destroyed work he was sure to regret it. "_J'ai tant pleuré après_,"
as he wrote to Fantin. Another incident remembered by Mr. Thomas would
have altered Hamerton's idea of Whistler's business methods. Edmund
Thomas had gone to the studio and offered a sum for all the prints in
it. Whistler accepted the offer, Mr. Thomas drew a cheque, and carried
off the prints. A couple of hours later a messenger appeared with a
bundle of proofs. Whistler had come upon them, and sent word that,
according to the bargain, they belonged to Mr. Thomas.

Towards the end of the sixties, or beginning of the seventies, Mr.
Murray Marks tried to start a Fine Art Company with Alexander Ionides,
Rossetti, Burne-Jones, and Morris to deal in pictures, prints, blue and
white, and decorative work. They were to sell Watts', Burne-Jones', and
Rossetti's pictures, and Whistler's etchings, possibly his paintings.
Ionides, who was to advance two or three thousand pounds, bought the
sixteen plates by Whistler now known as the Thames Set, and the prints
from them. The sum paid was three hundred pounds. A secretary was
engaged for the company, but that was the end of it. The plates became
the absolute property of Ionides. He had a hundred sets printed; he
gave one set to each of his children; the others were taken over by
Messrs. Ellis and Green, and published in 1871 as _Sixteen Etchings
of Scenes on the Thames_, price twelve guineas. Later, the plates
came into the possession of the Fine Art Society, who sold the prints
unsigned as a set in a portfolio for fourteen guineas, or, singly, from
half a guinea to two guineas and a half. Finally Mr. Keppel, of New
York, bought the coppers, had the steel facing removed, for they had
been steeled, Goulding printed a number from each, and some good prints
were obtained. The plates were then destroyed.

Official recognition of Whistler, the etcher, continued. The British
Museum bought his prints and only stopped when, some years ago, it was
discovered that the work of living artists could not be purchased for
the Print Room. The ignorance of this regulation was of value to the
Museum, where there are now one hundred and nine etchings by Whistler.
At the Victoria and Albert Museum, South Kensington, there are
sixty-one prints, besides several issued in various publications and
a second Thames Set in the Ionides Collection. For several years the
late Sir Richard R. Holmes purchased prints for Windsor Castle Library,
about one hundred and forty in all. He wrote us:

"It is difficult to say when, or how, I first began collecting
Whistler's etchings. I had a few, and then I met several while I was
looking after other things at Thibaudeau's, and, gradually, I found I
had so many that I thought it best to make the collection as complete
as I could, and got a number from Whistler himself."

[Illustration: THE LANGE LEIZEN OF THE SIX MARKS

PURPLE AND ROSE

OIL

In the John G. Johnson Collection, Philadelphia

(_See page 87_)]

[Illustration: HARMONY IN FLESH-COLOUR AND GREEN

THE BALCONY

OIL

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 87_)]

Often Sir Richard went to the studio; often Whistler sent to Windsor
prints he thought should be there. The Venetian series was bought.
Finally, after Sir Richard's retirement, they were sold "to improve the
collection" at what was supposed the height of the "Whistler boom,"
and after they had been praised in the Memorial Exhibitions of London
and Paris. As King Edward VII. on his visit to the London Memorial
Exhibition expressed surprise at the few he looked at, it is certain
that his Majesty was unaware that the collection was at Windsor.
Even the portfolio, presented by Whistler to Queen Victoria with his
autograph letter asking her acceptance, was first lost, and, when
found, sold in 1906, the few prints in Princess Victoria's apartments
only being kept. The disposal of the etchings was so badly managed that
the Jubilee series brought more, when re-sold a few weeks after the
King parted with them, than his Majesty got for the whole collection.
During Whistler's lifetime important collections of his etchings were
acquired also by the Museums of Dresden, Venice, and Melbourne, and the
New York Public Library.

The success of Whistler's plates during the following years is a
contrast to the fate of his pictures, which for a long period were
neglected. He had nothing in the Academy of 1868. Mr. Jameson has told
us of his despair because the _Three Girls_ was not finished in time,
and of their wandering together about town, in and out of galleries
and museums, until at last, before Velasquez in the National Gallery,
Whistler took heart again. And he delighted in the admiration of
Swinburne in _Notes on Some Pictures of 1868_. The paintings which had
not been submitted "to the loose and slippery judgment of an academy,"
but had been seen by Swinburne in the studio and seemed to him "to have
grown as a flower grows," were evidently the _Projects_. A special
quality of Whistler's genius, Swinburne said, is "a freshness and
fullness of the loveliest life of things, with a high, clear power upon
them which seems to educe a picture as the sun does a blossom or a
fruit."

In 1869 the Academy moved to Burlington House, and there in 1870
Whistler showed _The Balcony_. From 1867 to 1870 he did not show in the
_Salon_. Whistler, like Rossetti, was never without his public, though
many years passed before he received Rossetti's rewards. He could
rely on the Ionides, Leathart, Frederick Leyland, Huth, Alexander,
Rawlinson, Anderson Rose, Jameson, Chapman, Potter. But, unlike
Rossetti, he wanted to show his work and receive for it rewards. As far
back as 1864 Fantin wrote to Edwin Edwards of Whistler's perseverance,
his determination to get into the _Salon_, a phase of his character
Fantin said he had not known. Whistler's absence from exhibitions was
not his fault. It was his hatred of rejection and fear of being badly
hung that drove him from them.

The tyranny of the Academy was no new thing. The opening of the
exhibition was every year the occasion of scandal and of protest
against an institution that rejected and still rejects distinguished
artists. One gallery after another took up the outsiders. After the
Berners Street Gallery came the Dudley, which, in 1867, added to its
show of water-colours a show of oils; in 1868, the Corinthian Gallery
in Argyll Street; in 1869, the Select Supplementary Exhibition in Bond
Street--these last two poor affairs more apt to justify than expose
the Academy. Dealers came to the rescue: the French Gallery in Pall
Mall, and the Society of French Artists, where Durand-Ruel brought
his collection in 1870, and, under the management of M. Charles
Deschamps, gave exhibitions until 1877. In the French Gallery and with
M. Deschamps Whistler showed many times. He contributed often to the
Dudley from 1871, and there the next year, 1872, exhibited for the
first time a _Nocturne_. His use of titles to explain his intention was
now so well established that in 1872, when _The White Girl_ and the
_Princesse_ were in the International Exhibition at South Kensington,
they were catalogued as _Symphony in White, No. 1._, and _Variations in
Flesh Colour, Blue, and Grey_, later changed to _Grey and Rose_; and
he supplied the explanation, printed in the "Programme of Reception."
They were "the complete results of harmonies obtained by employing the
infinite tones and variations of a limited number of colours."

His portrait of his mother was sent to the Academy of
1872--_Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's
Mother_. It was refused. Madox Brown wrote to George Rae: "I hear that
Whistler has had the portrait of his mother turned out. If so, it is a
shame, because I saw the picture, and know it to be good and beautiful,
though, I suppose, not to the taste of Messrs. Ansdell and Dobson."

Sir William Boxall threatened to resign from the Council if the
portrait was not hung, for he would not have it said that a committee
to which he belonged had rejected it. Similar threats have been
heard in recent years, and the rejected work has stayed out, and the
Academicians have stayed in. Boxall would not yield, and the picture
was hung, not well, yet not out of sight; groups, it is said, were
always gathered before it to laugh. Still, there it was, the last
picture by Whistler at the Academy, where nothing of his was again
seen, save one etching in 1879: _Putney Bridge_, published by the Fine
Art Society and probably sent by them.

The whole affair made talk. But 1872 is interesting, above all, as the
year when Whistler first exhibited a portrait as an _Arrangement_ and
an impression of night as a _Nocturne_.

As it was the last year he showed a picture in the Academy, it may
be as well to complete here our account of his relations with this
institution. It is said that he put his name down, or allowed it to be
put down, for election. He was never elected. Other Americans were,
for the Royal Academy is so broad in its constitution that an artist
need not be an Englishman, need not be resident in Great Britain, need
not have shown on its walls to become a member or honorary member. But
though during all these years and until the day of his death Whistler
would have accepted election, we have never heard that he obtained a
single vote. George Boughton, an American artist and a member of the
Royal Academy, explained the Academic attitude when he said that if
Whistler had "behaved himself" he would have been President. Even this
concession Boughton qualified: "Now, if anyone knowing Whistler and me
should go about thinking me serious in imagining that he would make a
good President--even of an East End boxing club--such persons live in
dense error."

The only comment to make is that Boughton did not understand Whistler,
and, in company with the Academy, had not the least artistic sense, or
even business appreciation in this matter.

Whistler would have accepted election for one reason only--because of
the official rank it would have given him in England. Other Americans
hustled to get it; he expected it as an honour which he deserved. He
knew himself to be more distinguished than any member of the Royal
Academy. Though recognition was withheld during his lifetime, several
Academicians attempted to secure for the Academy a posthumous glory
by endeavouring to get together an exhibition of his works the winter
after his death. It would, indeed, have been irony if the Academy had,
in return for its neglect of Whistler, got the _kudos_ and cash as
their reward. Another instance of what Americans call "graft" is in the
absence from the Chantrey Collection of a picture by Whistler, and the
presence of the work of the Academicians who administer the Fund. The
Trustees, although they have bought their own work, paying as much as
one thousand pounds to Sir Edward J. Poynter, three thousand to Sir
Hubert von Herkomer, three thousand and fifty to Lord Leighton, two
thousand to Sir J. E. Millais, Bart., over two thousand to Mr. Frank
Dicksee, two thousand to Sir W. Q. Orchardson, two thousand to Vicat
Cole, who are or were members of the Council of the Academy, never even
offered the sixty pounds for which they might have bought Whistler's
_Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Old Battersea Bridge_, since purchased for
two thousand by public subscription and given to the Tate Gallery. Is
it any wonder that Whistler, disgusted with such conduct, especially
on the part of his fellow countrymen, members of the Academy, and
others, who might have elected him, left as his only written request
relative to his pictures we have seen, the wish that none should ever
find a place in any English Gallery? Death did not spare him Academical
jealousy. Not content with ignoring him during his lifetime, officially
insulting his memory after his death, Sir Edward Poynter, then
Director, when he hung _Old Battersea Bridge_ in the National Gallery,
affixed to it, or allowed to be affixed, a label on which Whistler's
name was misspelt, Whistler described as of the British School, the
title of the picture incorrectly given, while Whistler's decorated
frame was hung upside down. The picture has since, by the irony of
fate, been placed in the Gallery of Modern British Art!

[Footnote 4: He never lived at No. 3, as Walter Greaves has wrongly
stated.]

[Footnote 5: See Chapter XXXV.]



CHAPTER XIII: NOCTURNES. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-TWO TO EIGHTEEN
SEVENTY-EIGHT.


Whistler was the first to paint the night. The blue mystery that veils
the world from dusk to dawn is in the colour-prints of Hiroshige. But
the wood-block cannot give the depth of darkness, the method makes a
convention of colour. Hiroshige saw and felt the beauty and invented a
scheme by which to suggest it on the block, but he could not render the
night as Whistler rendered it on canvas.

Though colour-prints suggested the Nocturnes, they were only the
suggestion. Whistler never copied Japanese technique. But Japanese
composition impressed him--the arrangement, the pattern, and at times
the detail. The high or low horizon, the line of a bridge over a
river, the spray of foliage in the foreground, the golden curve of a
falling rocket, the placing of a figure on the shore, the signature in
the oblong panel, show how much he learned. He abandoned the Japanese
convention in a few years, but he never gave up, he developed rather,
what he always spoke of as the Japanese method of drawing.[6] He
translated Japanese art--translate is the word--though he said that
he "carried on tradition." His idea was not to go to the Japanese as
greater than himself, but to learn what he could from them and make
another work of art; a work founded on tradition no less than theirs,
and yet as Western as theirs was Eastern.

[Illustration: LA PRINCESSE DU PAYS DE LA PORCELAINE

ROSE AND SILVER

OIL

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 87_)]

[Illustration: VARIATIONS IN VIOLET AND GREEN

OIL

In the possession of Sir Charles McLaren, Bart.

Showing frame designed by Whistler

Plaque inscribed Whistler at bottom not by artist

(_See page 90_)]

Night, beautiful everywhere from Valparaiso to Venice, is never more
beautiful than in London. First he painted the Thames in the grey day,
but, as time went on, he painted it in the blue night. Only those who
have lived by the river for years, as we have, can realise the truth
as well as the beauty of the Nocturnes. He still, like Courbet, "loved
things for what they were," but he chose the exquisite, the poetic. The
foolishness of Nature never appealed to him. But Courbet was no more a
realist than Whistler if realism means truth.

The long nights on the river were followed by long days in the studio.
In the end he gave up making notes. It was impossible for him to work
in colour at night, and he had to trust to his memory. In his portraits
and his pictures done by day he had a model. But looking at colour and
arrangement by night, and retaining the memory until the next morning
simply means a longer interval between observation and execution. And,
carrying on the tradition of the Japanese and the method of drawing
from memory advocated by Lecoq de Boisbaudran, and practised by many
of his most distinguished contemporaries in France, Whistler developed
his powers of observation. Even then, as he said, to retain the memory
of the subject required as hard training as a football player goes
through. His method was to go out at night, and all his pupils or
followers agree in this, stand before his subject and look at it, then
turn his back on it and repeat to whoever was with him the arrangement,
the scheme of colour, and as much of the detail as he wanted. The
listener corrected errors when they occurred, and, after Whistler had
looked long enough, he went to bed with nothing in his head but his
subject. The next morning, as he told his apprentice, Mrs. Clifford
Addams, if he could see upon the untouched canvas the completed
picture, he painted it; if not, he passed another night in looking at
the subject. However, it was not two nights' observation alone, but
the knowledge of a lifetime that enabled him to paint the Nocturnes.
This power to see a finished picture on a bare canvas is possessed by
all great artists. But the greater the artist the more he sees and the
better he presents it.

Whistler said "Nature put him out," because the arrangement as he found
it put him out; Nature is never right. Few painters have understood
the art of selection, and here Hiroshige and the other Japanese were
of use. He went to Nature for the motive, to the Japanese for the
design. This was why he said Nature was at once his master and his
servant. The Nocturnes looked so simple to a public trained by Ruskin
to believe that signs of labour are the chief merits in a picture, that
they seemed unfinished--just knocked off. Yet his letters to Fantin are
full of regret for his slowness: "_Je suis si lent.... Les choses ne
vont pas vite.... Je produis peu parceque j'efface tout!_" No one knew
the hard work that produced the simplicity. In no other paintings was
Whistler as successful in following his own precepts and concealing
traces of toil. One touch less and nothing would be left; one touch
more and the spell would be broken, and night stripped of mystery. To
give the silhouette of bridge or building against the sky; the lines
of light trailing through the water or leading to infinite distance;
the boats, ghosts fading into the ghostly river; the fall of rockets
through shadowy air--to give all these things, and yet to keep them
shrouded in the transparency of darkness was the problem he set himself
in the Nocturnes painted in the little second-storey back room at
Chelsea. It was the night he saw and studied at Cremorne, darker, more
mysterious for the sudden flare of the fireworks, for the glow in which
little figures danced, for the hint of draperies passing in and out of
the shadows--night that toned the tawdry gardens and their vulgar crowd
into beauty.

Now everyone can see, and "night is like a Whistler," for Whistler
compelled people to look at his pictures, until it has become
impossible to look at night without seeing the Nocturnes. He painted
the impression that night made on him, and the great artist, like the
great author, moves people until they think they see things as he does.
Even in that ever-quoted passage from _The Ten O'Clock_, he does not
pretend to see Nature as people see her or as Nature seems to be; his
concern is with the impression that Nature at night made on him, and in
this he was an impressionist.

The brothers Greaves bought his materials and prepared his canvas and
colours. "I know all these things because I passed days and weeks in
the place standing by him," Walter Greaves has said to us. Whistler
remade his brushes, heating them over a candle, melting the glue and
pushing the hair into the shape he wanted. Greaves says that the
colours were mixed with linseed oil and turpentine. Whistler told us
that he used a medium composed of copal, mastic, and turpentine. The
colours were arranged upon a palette, a large oblong board some two
feet by three, with the butterfly inlaid in one corner and sunken boxes
for brushes and tubes round the edges. This palette was laid upon a
table. He had at various periods two or three; and at least one stand,
with many tiny drawers, upon which the palette fitted. At the top of
the palette the pure colours were placed, though, more frequently,
there were no pure colours at all. Large quantities of different tones
of the prevailing colour in the picture to be painted were mixed, and
so much of the medium was used that he called it "sauce." Greaves says
that the Nocturnes were mostly painted on a very absorbent canvas,
sometimes on panels, sometimes on bare brown holland, sized. For the
blue Nocturnes, the canvas was covered with a red ground, or the panel
was of mahogany, which the pupils got from their boat-building yard,
the red forcing up the blues laid on it. Others were done on a warm
black, and for the fireworks there was a lead ground. Or, if the night
was grey, then, Whistler said, "the sky is grey, and the water is grey,
and, therefore, the canvas must be grey." Only once within Greaves'
memory was the ground white. The ground for his Nocturnes, like the
paper for his pastels, was chosen of the prevailing tone of the picture
he wanted to paint or of a colour which would give him that tone, not
to save work, but to avoid fatiguing the canvas.

When Whistler had arranged his colour-scheme on the palette, the
canvas, which the pupils prepared, was stood on an easel, but so much
"sauce" was used that frequently it had to be thrown flat on the floor
to keep the whole thing from running off. He washed the liquid colour
on, lightening and darkening the tones as he worked. In the Nocturnes,
the sky and water are rendered with great sweeps of the brush of
exactly the right tone. How many times he made and wiped out that
sweeping tone is another matter. When it was right, there it stayed.
With his life's knowledge of both the effects he wanted to paint and
the way to paint them, at times, as he admits himself, he completed
a Nocturne in a day. In some he got his effect at once, in others it
came only after endless failures. If the tones were right, he took
them off his palette and kept them until the next day, in saucers,
or gallipots, under water, so that he might carry on his work in the
same way with the same tones. Mrs. Anna Lea Merritt tells us that when
she lived in Cheyne Walk, she remembers "seeing the Nocturnes set out
along the garden wall to bake in the sun." Some were laid aside to
dry slowly in the studio, some were put in the garden or on the roof
to dry quickly. Sometimes they dried out like body-colour in the most
unexpected fashion. It was a time of tireless research. He had to
invent everything, though he profited by the technical training he had
gained in painting the _Six Projects_.

Whistler first called his paintings of night Moonlights. Nocturne was
Mr. Leyland's suggestion, as we have heard from Mrs. Leyland, and her
son-in-law, Val Prinsep, stated in the _Art Journal_ (August 1892),
that Whistler wrote to Leyland:

"I can't thank you too much for the name Nocturne as the title for
my Moonlights. You have no idea what an irritation it proves to the
critics, and consequent pleasure to me; besides it is really so
charming, and does so poetically say all I want to say and _no more_
than I wish."

Whether to mystify, or because he saw something new in his pictures,
Whistler repeatedly changed their titles, especially of the Nocturnes,
and repeatedly exhibited different pictures with the same title. It
is true, as Mr. Bernard Sickert writes: "such alterations made by the
artist himself stultify the whole idea, and prove that the analogy with
music does not hold consistently. Any musician would tell us that we
could not change the title of Symphony in C minor to Sonata in G major
without making it an absurdity."

That he should either not have realised this fact, or else have
disregarded it deliberately, is the more extraordinary because every
Nocturne represents a different effect rendered in a different
fashion. Although he altered his titles, nothing offended him more
than when others tampered with them or stole them.

The painting of the Nocturnes continued for many years, and in many
places. But the greater number were painted when he lived at Lindsey
Row, most from his windows, and few took him beyond Battersea and
Westminster. He resented it when people suggested literary titles for
them, and he put his resentment into words that "make history" in _The
Red Rag_, one of the most interesting documents in _The Gentle Art_,
published originally in the _World_ (May 22, 1878):

"My picture of a _Harmony in Grey and Gold_ is an illustration of my
meaning--a snow scene with a single black figure and a lighted tavern.
I care nothing for the past, present, or future of the black figure,
placed there because the black was wanted at that spot. All that I know
is that my combination of grey and gold is the basis of the picture.
Now this is precisely what my friends cannot grasp. They say, 'Why
not call it "Trotty Veck," and sell it for a round harmony of golden
guineas?'"

Lord Redesdale told us that it was he who suggested this title, gaily.
Whistler assured another of his friends that he had only to write
"Father, dear Father, come home with me now" on the painting for it
to become the "picture of the year." Subject, sentiment, meaning were
for him in the night itself--the night in its loveliness and mystery.
There is no doubt that he carried tradition further and made greater
advance in the Nocturnes than in any of his paintings. The subjects are
the simplest--factories, bridges, boats and barges, shops, gardens--but
in his hands they became things of beauty that will live for ever. The
Nocturnes are not all moonlights; we remember only a few in which the
moon appears, some are illumined only by flickering lamplight. They are
not invariably pictures of night, but at times of dawn or of twilight.
Nocturnes, however, is the name Whistler chose for all, and by it they
will always be known.

[Footnote 6: See Chapter XXII.]



CHAPTER XIV: PORTRAITS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN
SEVENTY-FOUR.


While Whistler was painting the Nocturnes, he was working on the large
portraits. The _Mother_ was the first. We cannot say when he began it.
He wrote of it to Fantin, promising to send a photograph, in 1871, but
it was not shown until 1872. How many were the sittings, how often the
work was scraped down or wiped out, no one will ever know. We have
some interesting technical details from Walter Greaves. The portrait
was painted on the back of a canvas, as J. saw when it was sent to the
London Memorial Exhibition, as Otto Bacher saw when the picture was in
Whistler's studio in 1883:

"I noticed that it was painted on the back of a canvas, on the face of
which was the portrait of a child. My remark, 'Why, you have painted
your mother on the back of a canvas!' received simply the reply: 'Isn't
that a good surface?'"

There was scarcely any paint used, Greaves says, the canvas being
simply rubbed over to get the dress, and, as at first the dado had
been painted across the canvas, it shows through the skirt. Harper
Pennington says that the canvas, being absorbent, was stained all
through from the painting on the face. But this does not alter Greaves'
statement. That wonderful handkerchief in the tired old hands, Greaves
describes as "nothing but a bit of white and oil."

What Whistler wanted was to place upon canvas a beautiful arrangement,
a beautiful pattern, of colour and line. No painter since Hals and
Velasquez thought so much of placing his figure on the canvas inside
the frame. No painter since Velasquez understood so well the value
of restrained line and restrained colour. The long, vertical and
horizontal lines in the background, the footstool, the matting, the
brushwork on the wall, add quietness to the portrait, tranquillity
to the pose that could be kept for ever; a contrast to the frenzied
squirms preferred by his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors.
Hamerton thought he must have found this pose, or the hint for it,
in the Agrippina at the Capitol in Rome, or in Canova's statue of
Napoleon's mother at Chatsworth. If Whistler found it anywhere, except
in his own studio, it could only have been at Haarlem, where Franz
Hals' old ladies sit together with the same serenity and are painted
in much the same scheme. Whistler had been to Holland and seen the
beautiful group, and he was haunted by it.

Whistler wrote to Fantin that if the _Mother_ marked any progress, it
was in the science of colour. What he wanted people to see in it, he
explained in _The Red Rag_:

"Take the picture of my mother, exhibited at the Royal Academy as an
_Arrangement in Grey and Black_. Now that is what it is. To me it is
interesting as a picture of my mother; but what can or ought the public
to care about the identity of the portrait?"

And yet Swinburne was not alone in realising its "intense pathos of
significance and tender depth of expression," while to a few Whistler
gave a glimpse of the other side, as to Mr. Harper Pennington:

"Did I ever tell you of an occasion when Whistler let me see him with
the paint off--with his brave mask down? Once standing by me in his
studio--Tite Street--we were looking at the _Mother_. I said some
string of words about the beauty of the face and figure, and for
some moments Jimmy looked and looked, but he said nothing. His hand
was playing with that tuft upon his nether lip. It was, perhaps, two
minutes before he spoke. 'Yes,' very slowly, and very softly--'Yes, one
does like to make one's mummy just as nice as possible!'"

Whistler told us that Madame Venturi, a friend of Carlyle's, determined
that he too should be painted.

"I used to go often to Madame Venturi's--I met Mazzini there, and
Mazzini was most charming--and Madame Venturi often visited me, and one
day she brought Carlyle. The _Mother_ was there, and Carlyle saw it,
and seemed to feel in it a certain fitness of things, as Madame Venturi
meant he should--he liked the simplicity of it, the old lady sitting
with her hands in her lap--and he said he would be painted. And he came
one morning soon, and he sat down, and I had the canvas ready and the
brushes and palette, and Carlyle said: 'And now, mon, fire away!' That
wasn't my idea how work should be done. Carlyle realised it, for he
added: 'If ye're fighting battles or painting pictures, the only thing
to do is to fire away!' One day he told me of others who had painted
his portrait. 'There was Mr. Watts, a mon of note. And I went to his
studio, and there was much meestification, and screens were drawn
round the easel, and curtains were drawn, and I was not allowed to see
anything. And then, at last, the screens were put aside and there I
was. And I looked. And Mr. Watts, a great mon, he said to me, "How do
you like it?" And then I turned to Mr. Watts, and I said, "Mon, I would
have ye know I am in the hobit of wurin' clean lunen!"'"

Carlyle told people that he sat there talking and talking, and that
Whistler went on working and working and paid no attention to him
whatever. Whistler found Carlyle a delightful person, and Carlyle
found him a workman. And it has been said that they used to take walks
together, but of this we have no record.

Before the portrait was finished, Whistler had begun to paint Miss
Alexander, and another story is of a meeting at the door between the
old man coming out and the little girl going in. "Who is that?" he
asked the maid. "Miss Alexander, who is sitting to Mr. Whistler."
Carlyle shook his head. "Puir lassie! Puir lassie!" Mrs. Leyland, at
whose portrait also Whistler was working, remembered that Carlyle
grumbled a good deal. Whistler, in the end, had, it is said, to get
Phil Morris to sit for the coat. Walter Greaves' memories are of
impatience in the studio, especially when Carlyle saw Whistler working
with small brushes, so that Whistler either worked with big brushes or
pretended to. William Allingham wrote of the sittings in his diary:

"Carlyle tells me he is sitting to Whistler. If C. makes signs of
changing his position, W. screams out in an agonised tone: 'For God's
sake, don't move!' C. afterwards said that all W.'s anxiety seemed
to be to get the coat painted to ideal perfection; the face went for
little. He had begun by asking two or three sittings, but managed to
get a great many. At last C. flatly rebelled. He used to define W. as
the most absurd creature on the face of the earth."

Around this portrait many legends are gathering. Mr. F. Ernest Jackson
has told us that a few years ago, one evening in Hyde Park, he was
seated on a bench sketching, and an old man came up to him and, seeing
he was an artist, asked if he knew Whistler. Then the old man said
that his father had posed for the picture. Whether this was Carlyle
revisiting the haunts of his walks or a pure invention we do not know.
Another tale is that Whistler never painted the picture, which is the
work of an anonymous Academician, done as a bet that he could do a
Whistler--it is a pity the Academician never did any more.

If Carlyle liked the portrait of the _Mother_, he must have liked his
own. There is the same quiet balance, the same careful spacing. Take
away either the circular print or the Butterfly in its circle, and the
repose is gone. But with such care has every detail been arranged, one
never thinks of the balance, the arabesque, the pattern. It is done,
and all traces of the thought and the work are gone. One sees only
the result Whistler meant should be seen. It has been criticised for
showing a want of invention. But if the background and the arrangement
are somewhat the same as in the _Mother_, it was because he was
deliberately carrying out the same scheme. It was his _Arrangement in
Grey and Black, No. II_. In the London Memorial Exhibition it hung
opposite the _Mother_, and as they were seen together, the pose and
colour and design belonged as inevitably to the nervous old man as to
the old lady in her beautiful tranquillity. Whistler is also said to
have made a study of Carlyle's head, owned by Mr. Burton Mansfield, and
there is a small study of the pose on the back of a canvas, once owned
by Greaves.

The _Harmony in Grey and Green; Portrait of Miss Alexander_, a
commission from Mr. W. C. Alexander, was painted at the same time,
and proves how little Whistler's invention was at fault. There was no
repetition. The little girl, in her white and green frock, holding
at her side her grey feathered hat, butterflies hovering about her,
the weariness of the pose expressed in the pouting red lips, as she
stands by the grey wall with its long lines of black, is as familiar
as Velasquez' Infantas. Less known is Whistler's care in every detail
to make it a masterpiece. He, or his mother, gave Mrs. Alexander
directions as to the quality of the muslin for the gown, where it was
to be bought, the width of the frills, the ruffles at the neck, the
ribbon bows, the way the gown was to be laundried. And only after
repeatedly seeing and studying the picture, does one learn his care
in weaving the colour through the design. He called the portrait
_Harmony in Grey and Green_, but the colours which bind the arrangement
together, which play all through it, are green and gold. So wonderfully
are these colours used like threads in tapestry that one does not see
them, one feels the result. As always, there was the great simple
design; the pose of Velasquez, the decoration of Japan, worked out
in his own way. The gold runs along the top of the dado; tiny gold
buckles fasten the rosettes of the shoes; there is a gold pin in the
hair; the gold of the daisies is repeated in the butterflies which
flutter above the head; a note of gold is in the pile of drapery, and
the floor has a suggestion of gold in the matting. Green plays the same
note. The green sash is carried down by the green feather of the hat,
lost in the shadow, which is filled with green and gold. And the green
of the daisies is repeated in the green of the drapery. It is not until
one has gone all over the picture that these things become evident. The
shoes look perfectly black, and so does the dado, and yet there is no
pure black anywhere. The whole is bound together by this grey, green,
black, and gold scheme running through the composition. It is a perfect
harmony. And so subtle is it, that only the result is evident, never
the means by which it was obtained.

The story of the sittings we have from Miss Cicely Alexander (Mrs.
Spring-Rice):

"My father wanted him to paint us all, I believe, beginning with
the eldest (my sister, whom he afterwards began to paint, but whose
portrait was never finished). But after coming down to see us, he wrote
and said he would like to begin with 'the light arrangement,' meaning
me, as my sister was dark. So I was the first victim, and I'm afraid
I rather considered that I was a victim all through the sittings, or
rather standings, for he never let me change my position, and I believe
I sometimes used to stand for hours at a time. I know I used to get
very tired and cross, and often finished the days in tears. This was
especially when he had promised to release me at a given time to go to
a dancing-class, but when the time came I was still standing, and the
minutes slipped away, and he was quite absorbed and had quite forgotten
all about his promise, and never noticed the tears; he used to stand
a good way from his canvas, and then dart at it and then dart back,
and he often turned round to look in a looking-glass that hung over
the mantelpiece at his back--I suppose, to see the reflection of his
painting. Although he was rather inhuman about letting me stand on for
hours and hours, as it seemed to me at the time, he was most kind in
other ways. If a blessed black fog came up from the river, and I was
allowed to get down, he never made any objection to my poking about
among his paints, and I even put charcoal eyes to some of his sketches
of portraits done in coloured chalks on brown paper, and he also
constantly promised to paint my doll, but this promise was never kept.
I was painted at the little house in Chelsea, and at the time he was
decorating the staircase; it was to have a dado of gold, and it was all
done in gold-leaf, and laid on by himself, I believe; he had numberless
little books of gold-leaf lying about, and any that weren't exactly of
the old-gold shade he wanted, he gave to me.

"Mrs. Whistler was living then, and used to preside at delightful
American luncheons, but I don't remember that she ever came into the
studio--a servant used to be sent to tell him lunch was ready, and
then he went on again as before. He painted, and despair filled my
soul, and I believe it was generally teatime before we went to those
lunches, at which we had hot biscuits and tinned peaches, and other
unwholesome things, and I believe the biscuits came out of a little
oven in the chimney, though I can't quite think how that could have
been. The studio was at the back of the house, and the drawing-room
looked over the river, and we seldom went into it, but I remember that
he had matting on the floor, and a large Japanese basin with water and
goldfish in it. I never met Mr. Carlyle in the studio, although he
was being painted at the same time, but he shook hands with me at the
private view at the Grosvenor Gallery, where the two portraits were
exhibited for the first time. [This must have been at Whistler's own
exhibition in 1874.] I didn't appreciate that honour at the time, any
more than I appreciated being painted by Mr. Whistler, and I'm afraid
all my memories only show that I was a very grumbling disagreeable
little girl. Of course, I was too young to appreciate Mr. Whistler
himself, though afterwards we were very good friends when I grew older,
and when he used to come to my father's house and make at once for the
portrait with his eye-glass up."

It is said that tears were not only the little girl's, but Whistler's,
and that there were seventy sittings before he finished. Mrs.
Spring-Rice writes nothing about the number of times the picture was
rubbed out and recommenced. He was beginning to put in the entire
scheme at once, but on such large canvases this was difficult. Walter
Greaves says that the picture was painted on an absorbent canvas, and
on a distemper ground. There is also a study for the head.

Whistler was as minute in his directions for the portrait of Miss
May Alexander. He recommended to Mrs. Alexander a milliner who sold
wonderful "picture hats"; he suggested that he should paint the
portrait in the house at Campden Hill, so that he could see the effect
of the picture in the drawing-room where it was to hang. But it remains
a sketch of a girl in riding-habit, drawing on her gloves, at her side
a pot of flowers, the one detail carried out. He made a number of other
sketches in oils, chalk, pen and ink, of the children, and there is a
study for Miss May's head also. But only the _Arrangement in Grey and
Green_ was finished.

Frederick Leyland, the wealthy shipowner, who had met Whistler as
early as 1867, about this time commissioned Whistler to paint his
four children, Mrs. Leyland, and himself. Leyland had not yet bought
his London house, but often came up to town, and Whistler made long
visits at Speke Hall, Leyland's place near Liverpool. Mrs. Whistler
spent months there. The record of his visits is in the etchings and
dry-points of _Speke Hall_ and _Speke Shore_, _Shipping at Liverpool_,
_The Dam Wood_, and the portraits in many mediums. Speke Hall, Whistler
said, put him in better mood for work. The house was not far from the
sea, where he found much to do. But the beach was flat, at low tide
the sea ran away from him, and at high tide the skies were wrong or
the wind blew, and when the sea failed he turned to the portraits. The
big canvases travelled with him, backward and forward, from Speke Hall
to London, and the sittings were continued in both places. They all
sat to him. The children hated posing as much as they delighted in the
painter. The son, after three sittings, refused to sit again, which
is to be regretted, for the pastel of him, lounging in a chair, with
big hat pushed back and long legs stretched out, is full of boyhood.
There are pastels of the three little girls, sketches in pen and ink
and pencil, one among the few studies for etchings, and the dry-points.
Of Florence Leyland, a large, full-length oil was started, the first
of his _Blue Girls_ in which he wished to paint blue on blue as he had
painted white on white. Another portrait of her was never finished and,
we believe, never exhibited until it was purchased, in 1906, for the
Brooklyn Museum. The full-length of Leyland was the only one completed.
Of this there is a small oil study.

[Illustration: SYMPHONY IN WHITE. NO. II

THE LITTLE WHITE GIRL

OIL

In the National Gallery, London

Showing the original frame with early Butterflies and Swinburne's
verses on it.

Photograph loaned by W. H. Low, Esq.

(_See page 92_)]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF DR. WHISTLER

OIL

In the possession of Burton Mansfield, Esq.

(_See page 95_)]

Whistler painted Leyland standing, in evening dress, with the ruffled
shirt he always wore, against a dark background, the first arrangement
of black on black. Leyland was good about standing, we know from Mrs.
Leyland, but he had not much time, and few portraits gave Whistler
more trouble. Leyland told Val Prinsep that Whistler nearly cried over
the drawing of the legs. Greaves says that "he got into an awful mess
over it," painted it out again and again, and finally had in a model
to pose for it nude. It was finished in the winter of 1873. In the
portrait of Leyland he began to suppress the background, to put the
figures into the atmosphere in which they stood, without accessories.
The problem was the atmospheric envelope, to make the figures stand in
this atmosphere, as far within their frames as he stood from them when
he painted, a problem at which he worked as long as he lived.

Mrs. Leyland had more leisure than her husband, and the sittings
amused her. She had sat to Rossetti, she was to sit to others. She
was beautiful, with wonderful red hair. Whistler made a dry-point of
her, _The Velvet Gown_, and in black velvet she wanted to be painted.
But he preferred a dress in harmony with her hair, and designed rose
draperies falling in sweeping curves, and he placed her against a
rose-flushed wall with a spray of rose almond blossoms at her side.
In no other portrait did he attempt a scheme of colour at once so
sumptuous and so delicate. The pose was natural to her, she said,
though he made a number of pastel schemes before he painted it. Her
back is turned, her arms fall loosely, her hands clasped behind her,
her head in profile. Mrs. Leyland remembered days when, at the end of
the pose, the portrait looked as if it needed only a few hours' work.
But in the morning she would find it rubbed out and all the work to be
done again. Notwithstanding the innumerable sittings, one of Whistler's
models, Maud Franklin, whom he so often etched and painted, was called
in to pose for the gown. Whistler knew what he wanted, and nothing else
would satisfy him. It must be beautiful to be worthy of the weariness
it caused her, he told Mrs. Leyland, and he was trying for the little
more that meant perfection. The portrait was never finished, and yet
it could not be lovelier. It was a problem, not of luminous dark, but
of luminous light, and the accessories have not been suppressed. The
matting on the floor, the dado, and the spray of almond blossoms are
more elaborately carried out than the detail of any other portrait.
What worried him, and probably prevented the picture being finished,
were the hands, almost untouched. It was not that he could not draw
hands, for they are beautifully drawn sometimes, notably in the
etchings. But he rarely painted them well. He nearly always left them
to the last, and some of his later pictures were unfinished because he
could not get the hands right. In the _Sarasate_, _The Little White
Girl_, the _Symphony in White, No. III._, the hands are beautifully
painted. Some one has said that an artist is known by his painting of
hands. These three pictures prove that Whistler could paint hands, but
it is as true that he did not paint them when he could help it.

The portrait of Mrs. Louis Huth was not only begun but finished during
these years. It is Holbein-like in its dignity, its sobriety, the flat
modelling, the exquisite rendering of the lace at the throat and the
wrists. Mrs. Huth wears the black velvet Mrs. Leyland wanted to wear,
and the background is black of wonderful, luminous, intense depth.
She, too, stands with her back turned, and her head in profile. In
this portrait, as in the full-length Leyland, Whistler carried out his
method of putting in the whole subject at once. The background was
as much a part of the design as the figure. If anything went wrong
anywhere the whole had to come out and be started again. It was a
difficult problem, but the theory taught by Gleyre, and developed in
the Nocturnes, was perfected in the portraits of _Frederick Leyland_
and _Mrs. Huth_.

Mrs. Leyland sometimes met Mrs. Huth as they came and went, and this
fixes the date of the portrait. Mrs. Huth was not strong, and Whistler
exhausted the strongest who posed for him. Almost daily, during one
summer, he kept her standing for three hours without rest. At last she
rebelled. Watts, she said, who had painted her had not treated her
in that way. "And still, you know, you come to me!" was Whistler's
comment. He had some mercy, however, and at times a model stood for her
dress.

After the Academy of 1874 opened with nothing of his in it, Whistler
took matters into his own hands, and, like Courbet in 1855, and Manet
in 1867, organised a show of his own--his first "one man" show. The
gallery was at No. 48 Pall Mall, and the collection included these
large portraits, a few Nocturnes, one or two earlier paintings, and one
or two of the _Projects_. Thirteen in all. There were fifty etchings.
The walls were grey, the exhibits were well spaced, there were palms
and flowers, blue pots and bronzes. He designed the card of invitation,
the simple card he always used, and his mother and Greaves wrote the
names and addresses, "all making Butterflies as hard as we could,"
Walter Greaves says, rushing out and posting the cards until the
letter-boxes of Chelsea were in a state of congestion. The private view
was on June 6. The catalogue is vague.

The exhibition was a shock to London. The decorations seemed an
indiscretion, for no one before had suggested to people, whose standard
was the Academy, that a show of pictures might be beautiful. The work
scandalised a generation blinded by the yearly Academic bazaar; they
could not see the beauty of flat modelling and flesh low in tone, they
preferred the "foolish sunset" to the poetry of night. But the pictures
could have been forgiven more easily than the titles. From the moment
he exhibited them as _Arrangements_ and _Nocturnes_, his reputation for
eccentricity was established. He wrote in _The Gentle Art_:

"I know that many good people think my nomenclature funny and myself
'eccentric'. Yes, 'eccentric' is the adjective they find for me. The
vast majority of English folk cannot and will not consider a picture as
a picture, apart from any story which it may be supposed to tell....
As music is the poetry of sound, so is painting the poetry of sight,
and the subject-matter has nothing to do with harmony of sound or of
colour."

Well received at first, his position in public favour had of late hung
in the balance. The exhibition weighed in the scales against him,
and for almost twenty years to come, ridicule was his portion. The
_Athenæum_ and the _Saturday Review_ ignored the show. The _Pall Mall_
saw in it more intellect than imagination. Here and there was a polite
murmur of "noble conception" and "Velasquez touch." Of all that was
said Whistler singled out for notice then, and preservation afterwards,
the comments of a forgotten journal, the _Hour_. It has been wondered
why he noticed papers of small importance. When he answered the critics
and kept the correspondence, it was "to make history," he said, and
he selected what he thought important, though it might come from an
unimportant source. The _Hour_ suggested that the best work was not
of recent date; Whistler wrote to remove "the melancholy impression";
and notice and letter "make history," for it was about this time that
English critics, following the lead of the French, were beginning to
say that he did not fulfil his early promise, and it is recorded in
_The Gentle Art_.

The pictures of this period that remain may seem few in number. But
others were completed or in progress, and disappeared before they
were exhibited or seen outside the studio. We have reason to believe,
however, that some have been recently discovered and eventually will
not be lost to the world.



CHAPTER XV: THE OPEN DOOR. THE YEAR EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-FOUR AND AFTER.


"Whistler laughed all his troubles away," it has been said. When the
Academy rejected him, and the critics sneered at his pictures hung in
other galleries, and the public took the critics seriously, he laughed
the louder, and felt the more. English ears shrank from his laugh--"his
strident peacock laugh," Sir Sidney Colvin called it.

"He was a man who could never bear to be alone," Mr. Percy Thomas
remembers. "The door in Lindsey Row was always open," and Whistler
liked to think that his friends' doors were open to him. Lord
Redesdale, who came to live in the Row in 1875, said that Whistler was
always running in and out. Through his own open door strange people
drifted. If they amused him he forgave them however they presumed, and
they usually did presume. There was a man who, he told us, came to dine
one evening, and, asking to stay overnight, remained three years:

"Well, you know, there he was; and that was the way he had always
lived--the prince of parasites! He was a genius, a musician, the first
of the 'Æsthetes,' before the silly name was invented. He hadn't
anything to do; he didn't do anything but decorate the dinner-table,
arrange the flowers, and then play the piano and talk. He hadn't any
enthusiasm; that's why he was so restful. He was always ready to go to
Cremorne with me. At moments my mother objected to such a loafer about
the house. And I would say to her, 'Well, but, my dear mummy, who else
is there to whom we could say, "Play," and he would play, and "Stop
playing," and he would stop right away!' Then I was ill. He couldn't be
trusted with a message to the doctor or the druggist, and he was only
in the way. But he had the good sense to see it, and to suggest it was
time to be going; so he left for somebody else! It never occurred to
him there was any reason he shouldn't live like that."

We have heard of many others. One, to whom Whistler entrusted the money
for the weekly bills, gave lunches to his friends and sent flowers and
chocolates right and left, while Whistler's debt multiplied.

Artists and art students came in through the open door to see and
to learn, and were welcomed. If they came to loaf and to play, they
paid for it. They ran errands, posted letters, sat in the corner,
interviewed greater bores than themselves. They had to give up their
time, and then the end came, and out they went.

One story in Chelsea is of Barthe, who not only taught art but sold
tapestry. Whistler bought a number of things from him. "But vill he
pay, zis Vistlaire, vill he pay?" Barthe asked, and at last one evening
he went to Lindsey Row. A cab was at the door. The maid said Whistler
was not in, but Barthe heard his voice and pushed past, and said
afterwards:

"Upstairs, I find him, before a little picture painting, and behind
him ze bruzzers Greaves holding candle. And Vistlaire he say, 'You ze
very man I vant; hold a candle!' And I hold a candle. And Vistlaire he
paint, and he paint, and zen he take ze picture, and he go downstair,
and he get in ze cab, and he drive off, and we hold ze candle, and I
see him no more. _Mon Dieu, il est terrible, ce Vistlaire!_" But he was
paid the next day.

Few men depended more on companionship than Whistler, and to few was
the companionship women alone can give more essential. All his life
he retained his _coeur de femme_, and most of his friends were women.
For years, until her health broke down, his mother was with him. Many
wondered, with Val Prinsep, who thought Whistler "always acting a
part," whether "behind the _poseur_, there was not quite a different
Whistler. Those who saw him with his mother were conscious of the fact
that the irrepressible Jimmy was very human. No one could have been a
better son, or more attentive to his mother's wishes. Sometimes old
Mrs. Whistler, who was a stern Presbyterian in her religion, must
have been very trying to her son. Yet Jimmy, though he used to give a
queer smile when he mentioned them, never in any way complained of
the old lady's strict Sabbatarian notions, to which he bowed without
remonstrance."

The models drifting in and out of the open door were mostly women.
He liked to have them with him, and felt it necessary to see them
about the studio, for, as he watched their movements, they would take
the pose he wanted, or suggest a group, an arrangement. An admirable
example is the _Whistler in his Studio_, done in the first house
in Lindsey Row. It was a beautiful study, he wrote to Fantin, for
a big picture like the _Hommage à Delacroix_, with Fantin, Albert
Moore, and himself, the "White Girl" on a couch, and _la Japonaise_
walking about, grouped together in his studio: all that would shock
the Academicians. The colour was to be dainty; he in pale grey, Jo in
white, _la Japonaise_ in flesh-colour, Albert Moore and Fantin to give
the black note. The canvas was to be ten feet by six. If he ever did
more than the study of the two girls and himself, it has disappeared.
The painting was owned by Mr. Douglas Freshfield, and now belongs to
the Chicago Art Institute, and is as dainty as Whistler described it.
He holds the small palette he sometimes used with raised edges to keep
the liquid colour from running off, he wears the long-sleeved white
waistcoat in which he worked, and he painted from the reflection in
the mirror, for his brush is in his left hand. The two women most
likely are the two models for _Symphony in White, No. III._, who have
stopped posing. Another version of this studio interior is in the
City of Dublin Art Gallery, but Whistler repudiated it. Mr. Gallatin
says that Sir Hugh Lane, who presented the picture to the Dublin
Gallery, gave it a very different record, holding that it was well
known in Chelsea, that Whistler liked it, and eventually painted for
Mr. Freshfield the version now in the Chicago Art Institute. The
truth of the matter, however, is that not only did Whistler repudiate
the Dublin picture, but, when it was shown as the original in the
Whistler Memorial Exhibition in London, Mr. Freshfield demanded that
this description be at once withdrawn or he would remove the picture
and sue the International Society, who organised the Exhibition, for
false statements and damages. Sir Hugh Lane did not produce during
his lifetime one scrap of proof in corroboration of statements denied
by Whistler, nor has any proof been produced since his death. Another
reason to doubt Lane's description is that Whistler never copied one
of his pictures, and the Dublin Gallery's version is a slavish copy,
save in the colour scheme. Whistler never painted it. There is nothing
else of the kind so complete as _Whistler in his Studio_, but there are
innumerable studies of figures, reading or sewing, not posing, though
the minute he started to draw them they had to pose. Everybody who was
with him, and somebody always was, had to sit and be painted, etched,
or drawn.

Refugees from France in 1870 drifted through the open door, artists
whose work was stopped by the Commune and who came to England to take
it up again. There were Dalou, Professor Lantéri, and Tissot who, at
Lindsey Row, found the inspiration for his pictures on the river.
Fantin stayed in Paris, but later told stories of the siege which
Whistler repeated to us. He asked Fantin what he did. "Me?" replied
Fantin, "I hid in the cellar. _Je suis poltron, moi._" One of Fantin's
many letters to Edwin Edwards shows Whistler's hold over those who
were drawn to him for a better reason than curiosity. It was long
since Fantin had heard from Whistler, for whom, however, he wrote, his
affection was that of a man for a mistress still loved despite the
trouble she might give. He did not understand women, they frightened
him, "_mais au fond, tout au fond, je sens que si j'étais aimé, je
serais l'esclave le plus soumis et serais peut-être capable de toutes
les plus grandes folies. Je sens que c'est la même chose pour Whistler:
s'il savait comme il pourrait avoir un ami dévoué et aimant en moi.
Malgré tout, il est séduisant._"

And yet they saw less of each other as the years went on, perhaps
because Fantin became more of a hermit, while Whistler's door opened
wider.

Journalists and critics hurried to Lindsey Row once they knew the
door was open. Mr. Walter Greaves, who sometimes showed the studio,
remembers doing the honours for Tom Taylor. Whistler told Mr. Sidney
Starr that, while the _Miss Alexander_ was in the studio, Tom Taylor
came:

"There were other visitors. Taylor said, 'Ah, yes, um,' then remarked
that the upright line in the panelling of the wall was wrong, and the
picture would be better without it, adding, 'Of course, it's a matter
of taste.' To which Whistler replied, 'I thought that perhaps for once
you were going to get away without having said anything foolish; but
remember, so that you may not make the mistake again, it's not a matter
of taste at all, it is a matter of knowledge. Good-bye.'"

Journalists and critics filled columns with praise of forgotten
masterpieces by unknown Academicians, but seldom spared space for the
work in Whistler's studio. Their gossip after the visit was about the
man, not his pictures.

Poets, the younger literary men, came in through the open door. Mr.
Edmund Gosse, introduced by Mr. W. M. Rossetti, has described to us his
impressions of the bare room with little in it but the easel, and of
the small, alert, nervous man with keen eyes and beautiful hands who
sat before it, looking at his canvas, never moving but looking steadily
for twenty minutes or half an hour, perhaps, and then, of a sudden,
dashing at it, giving it one touch, and saying, "There, well, I think
that will do for to-day!" an astonishing experience to one used to
tapestried studios and painters more industrious with their hands than
their brains.

The fashionable world, royalty, crowded through the open door. Lindsey
Row was lined with the carriages of Mayfair and Belgravia. Whistler
was the fashion, if his pictures were not, and he could say nothing,
he could do nothing, that did not go the rounds of drawing-rooms and
dinner-tables. "Ha, ha! I have no private life!" he told a man who
threatened him with exposure. And, from this time onward, he never had.

He knew what his popularity meant. It was among the numbers who
gathered about him because he was the fashion, that he could not afford
to have friends.

If the frequent use of the name "Jimmie" by people in speaking and
writing of him implies a friendliness on his part with every Tom,
Dick, and Harry, nothing could be further from the fact. His friends,
who were his contemporaries, called him "Jimmie," but rarely to his
face, and the rest who did once had not the courage to a second time.
We remember a foolish youth who, meeting him at our table, addressed
him in free and easy fashion as "Whistler." He said nothing. He only
looked, but the youth did not forget the Mr. after that. Whistler was
the last man to allow familiarity or to make friends. He understood how
to keep at a distance those he did not know or did not want to know.

[Illustration: NOCTURNE

BLUE AND GOLD, VALPARAISO BAY

OIL

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 99_)]

[Illustration: SYMPHONY IN WHITE. NO. III

OIL

In the possession of Edmund Davis, Esq.

(_See page 102_)]

It was thought that he could not live without fighting, that to him
"battle was the spice of life." But he never fought until fighting was
forced upon him. There were no fights, just as there was no mystery,
at first. Every man was a friend until he proved himself an enemy.
Whistler's temper was violent. Few who ever saw him roused can forget
the fire of his eyes, the fury of his face, the sting of his tongue.
He was terrible then, and lost all control of himself. But there was
always good cause for his rage, and once the storm had passed he
laughed this, as all his other troubles, away and when the fighting
began enjoyed it. He liked a fight, roared over it. Lord Redesdale told
us Whistler would come to him in the morning at breakfast, or in the
evening after dinner, to read the latest correspondence, discovering
the dullness of the enemy.

Whistler delighted in society, finding in it the change most men find
in sport or travel. He hated anything that stopped his work. Hunting
and fishing were an abomination. We never heard of his attempting to
shoot, except once at the Leylands', when, he said: "I rather fancied I
shot part of a hare, for I thought I saw the fluff of its fur flying.
I knew I hit a dog, for I saw the keeper taking out the shot!" His
solicitor, Mr. William Webb, tried once to teach him to ride a bicycle.
"Learn it? No," he said to us. "Why, I fell right off--but I fell in
a rose-bush!" Motoring offended him and he abused J. for taking it
up. But people amused him, and he enjoyed the "parade of life." This
is the explanation of the dandyism that has shocked more than one of
his critics. Whistler was never content with half-measures. He would
not have played the social game at all had he not been able to play it
well, and if taking infinite pains with his appearance means dandyism,
then he was a dandy. The very word pleased him, and he used it often,
in American fashion, to express perfection or charm or beauty. Never
was any man more particular about his person and his dress. He was
as careful of his hair as a woman, though there was no need of the
curling-tongs with which he has been reproached; the difficulty was to
restrain his curls and keep them in order. The white lock gave just
the right touch. However fashion changed, he always wore the moustache
and little imperial which other West Point men of his generation
retained through life. Even his thick bushy eyebrows were trained,
and they added to the humorous or sardonic expression of the deep
blue eyes from which many shrank. His beautiful hands and nails were
beautifully kept. In his dress was always something a little different
from that of other men. His clothes were speckless, faultless, fitting
irreproachably. He preferred pumps to boots, short sack-coats to
tailed coats. His linen was of the finest, and a little Butterfly was
embroidered on his handkerchief; and his near-sightedness was a reason
for the monocle of which he knew how to make such good use. He was long
at his toilet, minute in every detail. Before entering a drawing-room
we have seen him pause to adjust his curls and his cravat. So it was
with everything. There was dandyism in his delicate handwriting, and
the same care went to the arrangement of his cards of invitation and
his letters; he would consider even the placing of his signature on a
receipt. And he devoted no less attention to his breakfasts and dinners
that made the talk of the town. He respected the art of cookery--the
"Family Bible" he called the cook-book; he ate little, but that little
had to be perfect both in cooking and serving.

From the beginning at Lindsey Row he gave these breakfasts and dinners.
Mr. Luke Ionides remembers calling one afternoon when "Jimmy was busy
putting things straight; he asked me if I had any money. I told him I
had twelve shillings. He said that was enough. We went out together,
and he bought three chairs at two-and-sixpence each, and three bottles
of claret at eighteenpence each, and three sticks of sealing-wax of
different colours at twopence each. On our return he sealed the top of
each bottle with a different coloured wax. He then told me he expected
a possible buyer to dinner, and two other friends. When we had taken
our seats at the table, he very solemnly told the maid to go down and
bring up a bottle of wine, one of those with the red seal. The maid
could hardly suppress a grin, but I alone saw it. Then, after the meat,
he told her to fetch a bottle with the blue seal; and with dessert the
one with the yellow seal was brought, and all were drunk in perfect
innocence and delight. He sold his picture, and said he was sure the
sealing-wax had done it."

All his life he invented wines and was continually making "finds." We
remember his discovery of a wonderful Croûte Mallard at the Café Royal,
and an equally wonderful Pouilly supplied by his French barber, who had
been one of Napoleon III.'s generals or Maximilian's _aides-de-camp_.
Another thing at the Café Royal besides the _menu_ was the N on the
wine-glasses, which were said to have come from the Tuileries in 1870,
but, no matter how many have been broken, it is still there. Though he
liked good wine, he drank as little as he ate. One of the innumerable
stories often repeated may give a different idea. After a dinner in
somebody's new house he slipped on the stairs and fell. As he was
helped up, he was asked if he had hurt himself. "No," he said, "but
it's all the fault of the damned teetotal architect." Those who dined
with him, or with whom he dined, knew that he was one of the most
abstemious of men. On the other hand, it was astonishing how quickly
some things went to his head. In later days when J. would stop with him
at Frascati's, on the way home from the studio, the talk grew gayer,
the "Ha! Ha!" louder with the first sip of his absinthe.

We have the story of his first dinner-party from Mr. Walter Greaves,
whose workman was sent to Madame Venturi's to borrow, and came back
hung about with, pots and kettles and pans, and from Mrs. Leyland,
who lent her butler and at the last moment, with her sister, put up
muslin curtains at the windows. Guests remember Whistler's alarm when
a near-sighted young lady in white mistook the Japanese bath, filled
with water-lilies, for a divan, and tried to sit on the goldfish; and
Leyland's disgust when Grisi's daughter, whom he took in to dinner,
would talk to him not of music, but of Ouida's novels. Everyone found
the _menu_ "a little eccentric, but excellent." The earliest _menu_ we
have seen is one, in Mr. Walter Dowdeswell's possession, of a dinner
in the eighties, as simple as it is characteristic of Whistler, and we
give it: _Potage Potiron_; _Soles Frites_; _Boeuf à la Mode_; _Chapon
au Cresson_; _Salade Laitue_; _Marmalade de Pommes_; _Omelette au
Fromage_.

Mr. Alan S. Cole's diary is the record of dinners in the seventies, of
the company, and the talk:

"_November 16_ (1875). Dined with Jimmy; Tissot, A. Moore, and Captain
Crabb. Lovely blue and white china, and capital small dinner. General
conversation and ideas on art unfettered by principles. Lovely Japanese
lacquer.

"_December 7_ (1875). Dined with Jimmy; Cyril Flower, Tissot, Story.
Talked Balzac--_Père Goriot--Cousine Bette--Cousin Pons--Jeune Homme de
Province à Paris--Illusions perdues_.

"_January 6_ (1876). With my father and mother to dine at Whistler's.
Mrs. Montiori, Mrs. Stansfield, and Gee there. My father on the innate
desire or ambition of some men to be creators, either physical or
mental. Whistler considered art had reached a climax with Japanese and
Velasquez. He had to admit natural instinct and influence, and the
ceaseless changing in all things.

"_March 12_ (1876). Dined with Jimmy. Miss Franklin there. Great
conversation of Spiritualism, in which J. believes. We tried to get
raps, but were unsuccessful, except in getting noises from sticky
fingers on the table.

"_March 25_ (1876). Round to Whistler's to dine. Mrs. Leyland and Mrs.
Galsworthy and others.

"_September 16_ (1876). Dined with W. Eldon there. Hot discussion about
Napoleon (_Napoléon le petit_, by Hugo). The Commune, with which J.
sympathised [some fellow-feeling for Courbet, the reason perhaps].
Spiritualism.

"_December 29_ (1876). To dine with J.--the Doctor. Goldfish in bowl.
Japanese trays--storks and birds. He read out two or three stories
by Bret Harte: _Luck of Roaring Camp_, _The Outcasts of Poker Flat_,
_Tennessee's Partner_. Chatted as to doing illustration for a catalogue
for Mitford, and as to his Japanese woman, and a decorated room for the
Museum.

"_February 18_ (1878). To Whistler's. Mark Twain's haunting jingle in
the tramcar: 'Punch, brothers, punch with care; punch in the presence
of the passenjaire!'

"_March 27_ (1878). Dined with Whistler, young Mills and Lang, who
writes. He seemed shocked by much that was said by Jimmy and Eldon."

Whistler delighted not only in Mark Twain's, but in all jingles. He had
an endless stock and recited them in the most unexpected places and at
the most inappropriate moments. He went to the trouble to write down
for us the lines of the _Woodchuck_:

"_How much wood would the woodchuck chuck
If the woodchuck could chuck wood?
Why! just as much as the woodchuck would
If the woodchuck could chuck wood!_"

And as we read them in the familiar writing, we wonder why they never
seemed foolish, but quite right, as he chanted them. In the Haden
correspondence, published in _The Gentle Art_, a new version of Peter
Piper may be found. He loved to quote the _Danbury News_ man and the
_Detroit Free Press_. He never lost his joy in American humour, and
because there is something of the same spirit in Rossetti's limericks
he never tired of repeating them, especially the two beginning:

"_There is an old person named Scott
Who thinks he can paint and cannot,_"

and

"_There is an old painter called Sandys
Who suffers from one of his glands._"

Whistler invented Sunday breakfasts. The day was unusual in London and
also the hour--twelve instead of nine. "Nothing exactly like them has
ever been in the world. They were as much himself as his work," George
Boughton wrote. Whistler arranged the table, seeing that everything
placed on it was beautiful: the blue and white, the silver, the linen,
the Japanese bowl of goldfish or the vase of flowers in the centre. If
his resources failed, he borrowed from Lord Redesdale, or, after his
brother was married, from Mrs. William Whistler, whose Japanese lacquer
was his admiration. He prepared the _menu_, partly American, partly
French, and wholly bewildering to joint-loving Britons. His description
of the British breakfasts he was asked to were amazing: "Beef, the
people or the rats had been gnawing, beer, and cheese rinds, salad
without dressing and tarts without taste. Quite British!" His buckwheat
cakes are not forgotten. He would make them himself, if the party were
informal, and he never spoke again to one man who ventured to dislike
them.

Sometimes eighteen or twenty sat down to breakfast, more often half
that number. All were people Whistler wanted to meet, people who
talked, people who painted, people who wrote, people who bought, people
who were distinguished, people who were royal, people who were friends.
From Mr. Cole we have notes of the company and talk at some of the
breakfasts:

"_June 17_ (1877). To breakfast at J.'s. F. Dicey, young Potter, and
Huth there. He showed some studies from figures--light and elegant--to
be finished.

"_June 29_ (1879). To Whistler's for breakfast. Much talk about
_Comédie-Française_ and Sarah Bernhardt.

"_July 8_ (1883). Breakfast at W.'s. Lord Houghton, Oscar Wilde, Mrs.
Singleton, Mrs. Moncrieff, Mrs. Gerald Potter, Lady Archie Campbell,
the Storys, Theodore Watts, and some others. Mrs. Moncrieff sang well
afterwards. Lord Houghton asked me about my father's memoirs. Margie
[Mrs. Cole] sat by him."

The breakfasts remain "charming" in Mrs. Moncrieff's memory. And
"charming" is Lady Colin Campbell's word. Lady Wolseley writes us that
she remembers "a flight of fans fastened up on the walls, and also that
the table had a large flat blue china bowl, or dish, with goldfish
and nasturtiums in it." Mrs. Alan S. Cole recalls a single tall lily
springing from the bowl; though invited for twelve, it was wiser,
she adds, not to arrive much before two, for to get there earlier
was often to hear Whistler splashing in his bath somewhere close to
the drawing-room. This was Mr. W. J. Rawlinson's experience once. He
had been asked for twelve, and got there a few minutes before as for
breakfast in Paris. Several guests had come, others followed, a dozen
perhaps; one was Lord Wolseley. For Whistler they waited--and they
waited and they waited. At about half-past one they heard a splashing
behind the folding-doors. There was a moment of indignation. Then
Howell hurried in, beaming on them. "It's all right, it's all right!"
he said, "Jimmie won't be long now; he is just having his bath!" Howell
talked and they waited, and two struck before Whistler appeared,
smiling, gracious, all in white, for it was hot, and they went down to
breakfast. As soon as he came in he was so fascinating that the waiting
was forgotten. We have heard but of one person who did not like the
breakfasts, an artist who went one morning, and his story was that he
drove down to Chelsea from St. John's Wood, and found Whistler alone,
and they went into the dining-room, and there was an egg on toast for
Whistler and another egg on toast for himself, and that was all. Then
Whistler wanted to show him pictures, but he was furious, and he said,
"No, Whistler, I have paid three shillings and sixpence for a cab to
come here, and I have eaten one egg, and I will look at no pictures!"

Sir Rennell Rodd writes us of the breakfasts at 13 Tite Street, "with
the inevitable buckwheat cakes, and green corn, and brilliant talk. One
I remember particularly, for we happened to be thirteen. There were two
Miss C.'s, the younger of whom died within a week of the breakfast; and
an elderly gentleman, whose name I forget, who was there, when he heard
of it at his club, said, 'God bless my soul!' had a stroke, and died
too."

J. was once only at a Chelsea breakfast, in 1884, at Tite Street, when
Mr. Menpes was present. But we often breakfasted in Paris at the Rue du
Bac, and in London at the Fitzroy Street studio. It made no difference
who was there, who sat beside you, Whistler dominated everybody and
everything in his own as in every house he visited. Though short and
small--a man of diminutive stature the usual description--his was the
commanding presence. When he talked everyone listened. At his table he
had a delightful way of waiting upon his guests. He would go round with
a bottle of Burgundy in its cradle, talking all the while, emphasising
every point with a dramatic pause just before or just after filling a
glass. We remember one Sunday in Paris in 1893--Mr. and Mrs. Edwin A.
Abbey and Dr. D. S. MacColl the other guests--when he told how he hung
the pictures at the annual Liverpool exhibition in 1891:

"You know the Academy baby by the dozen had been sent in, and I got
them all in my gallery; and in the centre, at one end, I placed
the birth of the baby--splendid; and opposite, the baby with the
mustard-pot, and opposite that the baby with the puppy; and in the
centre, on one side, the baby ill, doctor holding its pulse, mother
weeping. On the other by the door, the baby dead, the baby's funeral,
baby from the cradle to the grave, baby in heaven, babies of all kinds
and shapes all along the line; not crowded, you know, hung with proper
respect for the baby. And on varnishing day, in came the artists, each
making for his own baby. Amazing! His baby on the line. Nothing could
be better! And they all shook my hand, and thanked me, and went to
look--at the other men's babies. And then they saw babies in front of
them, babies behind them, babies to right of them, babies to left of
them. And then, you know, their faces fell; they didn't seem to like
it--and--well--ha! ha!--they never asked me to hang the pictures again
at Liverpool! What!"

As he told it he was on his feet, pouring out the Burgundy, minutes
sometimes to fill a glass. There were minutes between one guest and the
next; he seemed never to be in his chair; it was fully two hours before
the story and breakfast came to an end together. But though no one else
had a chance to talk, no one was bored. It was the same wherever he
went if the people were sympathetic. If they were not, he could be as
glum as anybody, especially if he was expected to "show off"; or, he
could go fast asleep. In sympathetic houses he not only led the talk,
he controlled it. There is a legend that he and Mark Twain met for the
first time at a dinner, when they simultaneously asked their hostess
who that noisy fellow was? For there was noise, there was gaiety, and
everybody was carried away by it, even the servants.

Whistler was an artist in his use of words and phrases, making them as
much a part of his personality as the white lock and the eye-glass. His
sudden "What," his familiar "Well, you know," his eloquent "H'm! h'm!"
were placed as carefully as the Butterfly on his card of invitation,
the blue and white on his table. No man was ever so eloquent with
his hands, he could tell a whole story with his fingers, long, thin,
sensitive--"alive to the tips, like the fingers of a mesmerist," Mr.
Arthur Symons writes of them. No man ever put so much into words as he
into the pause for the laugh, into the laugh itself, the loud, sharp
"Ha, ha!" and into the deliberate adjusting of his eye-glass. So much
was in his manner that it is almost impossible to give an idea of his
talk to those who never heard it. We have listened to him with wonder
and delight, and afterwards tried to repeat what he said, to find
it fall flat and lifeless without the play of his expressive hands,
without the malice or the music of his laugh. This is why the stories
of him in print often make people marvel at the reputation they have
brought him. Not that the talk was not good; it was. His wit was quick,
spontaneous. "Providence is very good to me sometimes," was his answer
when we asked him how he found the telling word. He has been compared
to Degas, who, it is said, led up the talk to a witticism prepared
beforehand; Whistler's wit met like a flash the challenge he could
not have anticipated. He loved a good story, made the most of it,
treated it with a delicacy, a humour that was irresistible. He could
be fantastic, malicious, audacious, serious, everything but dull or
gross. He shrank from grossness. No one, not his worst enemies, can
recall a story from him with a touch or taint of it. The ugly, the
unclean revolted him.

We have heard of Sundays when Whistler sketched the people who were
there, hanging the sketches in his drawing-room. One Sunday he made the
dry-point of Lord (then Sir Garnet) Wolseley. Lord Wolseley himself has
forgotten it: "I fear, beyond the recollection of an agreeable luncheon
at his house at Chelsea, I have no reminiscence," he wrote to us. And
Lady Wolseley thinks "Lord Wolseley may have gone to him for sittings
early, and have breakfasted with him. I have a vague impression." But
Howell was summoned that Sunday from Putney to amuse the sitter and
prevent his hurrying off, and he put the date in his diary:

"_November 24_ (1877). Went to Whistler's, met Sir Garnet Wolseley.
Whistler etched him; got two first proofs, second one touched, 42_s._
Met Pellegrini and Godwin."

Whistler went everywhere, and knew everybody, though he did not allow
everybody to know him. When somebody said to him, "The Prince of Wales
says he knows you," Whistler's answer was, "That's only his side." He
lived at a rate that would have killed most men, and at an expense in
details that was fabulous. "I never dined alone for years," he said.
If no one was coming to him, if no one had invited him, he dined at
a club. He was a familiar figure, at different periods, in the Arts,
Chelsea, and Hogarth Clubs, the Arundel, the Beaufort Grill Club, or,
for supper, at the Beefsteak Club. Many of his letters, for a period,
were dated from "The Fielding." He was once put up at the Savile, he
told us, but heard no more about it; and at the Savage, but that, he
said, "is a club to belong to, never to go to." At the Reform, had
he thought of it, he lost all chance of election one night when his
laugh woke up the old gentleman whose snores were equally loud in
the reading-room. An amusing proof of the number of his clubs is Mr.
Alden Weir's story of passing through London and being asked to dine
by Whistler, who suggested first one club, then another, and drove him
about to half a dozen or more, at each getting out of the cab alone and
coming back to say nobody of any account was there, or the dinner was
not good, or some other excuse; and, at last, with an apology, driving
him home to Chelsea, where a large party waited and an excellent
dinner was served, and Mr. Weir was the one guest not in evening dress,
for Whistler kept the party waiting still longer while he changed.
In the Lindsey Row days Whistler sometimes dined in a cheap French
restaurant, "good of its kind," with Albert Moore and Homer Martin, a
man he delighted in. Many artists dined there, he said, and would sit
and talk until late. "But then, you know, the sort of Englishman who is
entirely outside all these things, and likes to think he is 'in it,'
began to come too, and that ruined it."

To Pagani's, in Great Portland Street, a tiny place then, he went with
Pelligrini and others. He was often at the Café Royal in the eighties
with Oscar Wilde; towards the end, Mr. Heinemann, Mr. E. G. Kennedy,
and we were apt to be with him, when, if he ordered the dinner, _Poulet
en casserole_ was the principal dish, and sweet champagne the wine.
Never shall we forget a dinner there, in 1899, to Mr. Freer, who had
just bought a picture. We and Mr. Heinemann were the other guests.
Much as Whistler wished to be amiable to Mr. Freer, he was tired, and,
somehow, the dinner was not right, and there were scenes in our corner
behind the screen. Mr. Freer felt it necessary to entertain the party,
which he did by talking pictures like a new critic, and Japanese prints
like a cultured school-ma'am. Whistler slept loudly and we tried to be
attentive, until at length, at some psychological moment in Hiroshige's
life or in Mr. Freer's collection, Whistler snored such a tremendous
snore that he woke himself up, crying: "Good Heavens! Who is snoring?"

Whistler had the faculty of being late when invited to dinner. One
official evening, he arrived an hour after the time. "We are so hungry,
Mr. Whistler!" said his host. "What a good sign!" was his answer. At
times he felt "like a little devil," and he told us of one of these
occasions:

"I arrived. In the middle of the drawing-room table was the new
_Fortnightly Review_, wet from the press; in it an article on Méryon
by Wedmore, and there was Wedmore--the distinguished guest. I felt the
excitement over the great man, and the great things he had been doing.
Wedmore took the hostess in to dinner; I was on her other side, seeing
things, bent on making the most of them. And I talked of critics,
of Wedmore, as though I did not know who sat opposite. And I was
nudged, my foot kicked under the table. But I talked. And whenever the
conversation turned on Méryon, or Wedmore's article, or other serious
things, I told another story, and I laughed--ha ha!--and they couldn't
help it, they all laughed with me, and Wedmore was forgotten, and I was
the hero of the evening. And Wedmore has never forgiven me."

Whistler went a great deal to the theatre in the seventies and
eighties, and was always at first nights. Occasionally he acted in
amateur theatricals. In 1876 he played in _Under the Umbrella_, at the
Albert Hall, and was elated by a paragraph on his performance in the
_Daily News_. He showed himself at private views and at the ceremonies
society approves. To see and to be seen was part of the social game,
and the world, meeting him everywhere, mistook him for the Butterfly
for which he seemed to pose.



CHAPTER XVI: THE PEACOCK ROOM. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-FOUR TO
EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-SEVEN.


For a year after the exhibition in Pall Mall, Whistler did not show
any paintings. Artists said his pictures were not serious because
not finished. Whistler retorted that theirs "might be finished,
but--well--they never had been begun." Such remarks were not favoured
by hanging committees. Probably Royal Academicians were honest, though
malicious. Lord Redesdale remembered one whose work is forgotten, who
used to say that Whistler was losing his eyesight, that he could not
see there was no paint on his canvas. Mr. G. A. Holmes told us that a
few artists in Chelsea, though they disliked him personally, thought
him a man with new ideas who threw new light on art; Henry Moore said
to Mr. Holmes that Whistler put more atmosphere into his pictures than
any man living. But Academicians, as a rule, were afraid of him and
Whistler would tell Mr. Holmes: "Well, you know, they want to treat me
like a sheet of note-paper, and crumple me up!"

His prints were hung in exhibitions, many lent by Anderson Rose to the
Liverpool Art Club in October 1874, and a few months afterwards to
the Hartley Institution at Southampton. Shortly before the Liverpool
show opened, Mr. Ralph Thomas issued the first catalogue of Whistler's
etchings: _A Catalogue of the Etchings and Dry-points of James Abbott
MacNeil Whistler, London, Privately Printed by John Russell Smith, of
36 Soho Square_. Of the fifty copies printed, only twenty-five were
for sale, so that it became at once rare. Mr. Percy Thomas etched
Whistler's portrait of himself with his brushes as frontispiece. Mr.
Ralph Thomas described the plates, and as he had been with Whistler
when many were made and printed, he was far better qualified than any
of his successors. It is much to be regretted that Wedmore did not
follow Thomas's excellent beginning.

In 1875, Whistler exhibited pictures in the few galleries that would
hang him. In October he sent to the Winter Exhibition at the Dudley
Gallery a _Nocturne in Blue and Gold, No. III._, which is impossible to
identify, and _Nocturne in Black and Gold--The Falling Rocket_, which
Ruskin presently identified beyond possibility of doubt: the impression
of fireworks in the gardens of Cremorne. But at the Dudley it created
no sensation. F. G. Stephens, in the _Athenæum_, was almost alone in
its praise. A month later, November 1875, _Chelsea Reach--Harmony in
Grey_, and many studies of figures on brown paper were at the Winter
Exhibition of the Society of French Artists, and three Nocturnes in the
Spring Exhibition (1876) of the same Society. Thus Whistler managed
without the Royal Academy.

[Illustration: SEA BEACH WITH FIGURES STUDY FOR THE SIX PROJECTS

PASTEL

(_See page 105_)]

[Illustration: WHISTLER'S TABLE PALETTE

(_See page 115_)]

[Illustration: THE THREE FIGURES

PINK AND GREY

OIL

In the possession of Alfred Chapman, Esq.

(_See page 105_)]

When Irving appeared as Philip II. in 1874, Whistler was struck with
the tall, slim, romantic figure in silvery greys and blacks, and got
him to pose. Mr. Bernhard Sickert thinks it extraordinary that Whistler
failed to suggest Irving's character. We think it more extraordinary
for Mr. Sickert to forget that Whistler was painting Irving made up as
Philip II. and not as Henry Irving. Mr. Cole saw the picture on May 5,
1876, and found Whistler "quite madly enthusiastic about his power of
painting such full-lengths in two sittings or so." The reproduction
in M. Duret's _Whistler_ differs in so many details from the picture
to-day, that at first we wondered if two portraits were painted. M.
Duret tells us that his reproduction is from a photograph lent him
by George Lucas. Probably, M. Duret writes, the photograph was taken
while Whistler was painting the picture, which afterwards he must have
altered. On comparing the photograph carefully with the picture, we
do not believe there were two portraits, but there were many changes.
In the photograph the cloak is thrown back over the actor's right
shoulder, showing his arm. In the exhibited picture his arm is hidden
by the cloak, and his hand, which before seems to have been thrust into
his doublet, rests upon the collar of an order. The trunks, apparently,
were much altered, especially the right, and the legs are far better
drawn, the left foot entirely repainted. Though Whistler was acquiring
more certainty in putting in these big portraits at once, he was
becoming more exacting, and he made repeated changes. When the _Irving_
was hung at the Grosvenor Gallery, Mrs. Stillman remembers that three
different outlines of the figure were visible. The portrait was not a
commission. It is said that Irving refused the small price Whistler
asked for it, but later, seeing his legs sticking out from under a pile
of canvases in a Wardour Street shop, recognised them and bought the
picture for ten guineas. Mr. Bram Stoker writes that, at the time of
the bankruptcy, Whistler sold it to Irving "for either twenty or forty
pounds--I forget which." The facts are that Whistler sold the _Irving_
to Howell, for "ten pounds and a sealskin coat," Howell recorded in
his diary, and that from him it passed into the hands of Mr. Graves,
the printseller in Pall Mall, who sold it to Irving for one hundred
pounds. After Irving's death, it came up for sale at Christie's, and
fetched five thousand pounds, becoming the property of Mr. Thomas,
of Philadelphia. On the death of Mr. Thomas it was purchased for the
Metropolitan Museum in New York.

A portrait of Sir Henry Cole was begun this spring. Mr. Alan S. Cole,
in his diary (May 19, 1876), speaks of "a strong commencement upon a
nearly life-size portrait of my father. Looking at it reflected in
a glass, and how the figure stood within the frame." This was never
finished. Whistler's executrix says it was burned.

Lord Redesdale told us of a beautiful full-length of his wife in
Chinese blue silk Whistler called fair, his word then for everything he
liked. With two or three more sittings and a little work, it would have
been finished. But it was a difficult moment, men were in possession
at No. 2 Lindsey Row, and he slashed the canvas. The debt was small,
thirty pounds or so, and the price agreed upon for the portrait was two
hundred guineas. Lord Redesdale would gladly have settled the matter,
but Whistler said nothing. A portrait started of Lord Redesdale, in
Van Dyck costume, and several Nocturnes were torn off stretchers and
slashed. _The Fur Jacket_, _Rosa Corder_, _Connie Gilchrist with the
Skipping Rope--The Gold Girl_, _Effie Deans_, were being painted. _The
Fur Jacket, Arrangement in Black and Brown_ his final name for it, is
the portrait of Maud, Miss Franklin, who now becomes more important
in his life and in his art. It is of great dignity. The dress is put
in with a full, sweeping brush in long flowing lines, classic in the
fall of the folds; the pale, beautiful face looks out like a flower
from the depth of the background. In many portraits Whistler was
rebuked for sacrificing the face to the design; here the interest is
concentrated on the face, and that is why the shadowy figure has been
criticised as a mere ghost, a mere rub-in of colour, on the canvas.
That he carried the work as far as he thought it should be carried is
certain when it is contrasted with _Rosa Corder_, also an _Arrangement
in Black and Brown_, in which the jacket, the feathered hat in her
hand, the trailing skirt, the face in severe profile, are more solidly
modelled. M. Blanche has stated that Whistler, in Cheyne Walk, saw
Miss Rosa Corder in her brown dress pass a door painted black, and
was struck with the scheme of colour. This may be true, for, as we
have shown, chance often suggested the effect or arrangement. _Connie
Gilchrist--The Gold Girl_, a popular dancer at the Gaiety, attracted
Whistler by her stage dress, which revealed her slight girlish form in
its delicate youthful beauty. He posed her in the studio as he had seen
her on the stage, skipping. But the movement which told on the stage by
its simplicity its spontaneity, became in the picture artificial. The
figure has the elegance of the little pastels, it is placed with the
distinction of the _Miss Alexander_, but the suspended action gives the
sense of incompleteness. A long line swept down the back of the figure
proves he meant to change it.

The above was written before the painting was bought by George A. Hearn
and presented to the Metropolitan Museum of New York. Whistler for
years had been endeavouring to get possession of it in order to destroy
it. It had been seized at his bankruptcy, and for long was the property
of Henry Labouchere. That Whistler was dissatisfied is shown by that
long black line from the girl's head to her heels. After it had hung
for some time in the Metropolitan Museum the line was removed, and
what is left of the picture Whistler wanted to destroy can now be seen
on the walls.

Always the pictures he was painting were in his mind. He memorised them
as he did the Nocturnes, and over and over, instead of telling what he
was painting, he would make, to show those he knew would understand,
pen or wash sketches of the work he was engaged on, leaving the
sketches, many of which exist, with his friends. There are records of
the kind of most of these portraits.

No portraits were shown in 1876, for other work engrossed him. It was
the year of The Peacock Room.

We do not know how he got the idea of the peacock as a motive for
decoration, or where he obtained his knowledge of it. But the scheme
was first proposed to Mr. W. C. Alexander for his house on Campden
Hill, and Whistler put down a few notes in pen and ink. The work went
no further, and he arranged, instead, a harmony in white for the
drawing-room, replaced afterwards by Eastern tapestries. Then Leyland
bought his house in Prince's Gate. Leyland's ambition was to live the
life of an ancient Venetian merchant in modern London, and he began
to remodel the interior and fill it with beautiful things. He bought
the gilded staircase from Northumberland House, which was being pulled
down. He commissioned Whistler to suggest the colour in the hall, and
paint the detail of blossom and leaf on the panels of the dado. "To
Leyland's house to see Whistler's colouring of Hall--very delicate
cocoa colour and gold--successful," Mr. Cole wrote, March 24. Leyland
covered the walls of drawing- and reception-rooms with pictures. He
had work by Filippo Lippi, Botticelli, Crivelli. He owned Rossetti's
_Blessed Damosel_ and _Lady Lilith_, Millais' _Eve of St. Agnes_,
Ford Madox Brown's _Chaucer at King Edward's Court_, Windus' _Burd
Helen_, Burne-Jones' _Mirror of Venus_ and _Wine of Circe_. He bought
Legros, Watts, and Albert Moore. Whistler's _Princesse du Pays de la
Porcelaine_ was his, and he hung it in the dining-room amidst his
splendid collection of blue and white china.

Norman Shaw was making the alterations to the house, and another
architect, Jeckyll, was suggested by Mr. Murray Marks to decorate the
dining-room and arrange the blue and white. Some say that originally
Morris and Burne-Jones were to do the dining-room, but that when
Whistler stepped in they vanished. Jeckyll put up shelves to hold
the china, and Whistler designed the sideboard. The _Princesse_ was
placed over the mantel, and space left at the opposite end of the room
for another painting by Whistler, who wished the _Three Figures, Pink
and Grey_ to face the _Princesse_. The walls were hung with Norwich
leather. The shelves were divided by perpendicular lines endlessly
repeated, and the panelled ceiling, with its pendant lamps, was heavy.
Whistler maintained that the red border of the rug and the red flowers
in the centre of each panel of the leather killed the delicate tones of
his picture. Leyland agreed. The red border was cut off the rug, and
Whistler gilded, or painted, the flowers on the leather with yellow and
gold. The result was horrible; the yellow paint and gilding "swore"
at the yellow tone of the leather. Something else must be done, and
again Leyland agreed. The something else developed into the scheme of
decoration first submitted to Mr. Alexander: The Peacock Room.

He told us one evening, when talking of it: "Well, you know, I just
painted as I went on, without design or sketch--it grew as I painted.
And towards the end I reached such a point of perfection--putting in
every touch with such freedom--that when I came round to the corner
where I had started, why, I had to paint part of it over again, or the
difference would have been too marked. And the harmony in blue and gold
developing, you know, I forgot everything in my joy in it!"

He had planned a journey to Venice, and new series of etchings there
and in France and Holland. The journey was postponed. At the end of the
season, the Leylands went to Speke Hall. Whistler remained at Prince's
Gate. Town emptied, he was still there, spending his days on ladders
and scaffolding, or lying in a hammock painting. His two pupils helped
him: "We laid on the gold," Mr. Walter Greaves says, and there were
times when the three were found with their hair and faces covered with
it. Whistler's description of this whirlwind of work was "the show's
afire," an expression he used for years when things were going. He was
up before six, at Prince's Gate an hour or so after, at noon jumping
into a hansom and driving home to lunch, then hurrying back to his
work. At night he was fit for nothing but bed, "so full were my eyes of
sleep and peacock feathers," he told us. He thought only of the beauty
growing in his hands. Autumn came. Lionel Robinson and Sir Thomas
Sutherland, with whom he was to have gone to Venice, started without
him. He could not drop the work at Prince's Gate.

[Illustration: NOCTURNE

BLUE AND GREEN

OIL

In the National Gallery, London

(_See page 112_)]

[Illustration: NOCTURNE

BLUE AND SILVER

OIL

In the possession of the Executors of Mrs. F. R. Leyland

(_See page 112_)]

A record of his progress is in the short notes of Mr. Cole's diary:

"_September 11_ (1876). Whistler dined. Most entertaining with his
brilliant description of his successful decorations at Leyland's.

"_September 20._ To see Peacock Room. Peacock feather devices--blues
and golds--extremely new and original.

"_October 26._ To see room which is developing. The dado and panels
greatly help it. Met Poynter, who spoke highly of Whistler's decoration.

"_October 27._ Again to see room with Moody. He did not like the
varnished surface and blocky manner of laying on the gold.

"_October 29._ To Peacock Room. Mitford (Lord Redesdale) came.

"_November 10._ The blue over the brown (leather) background is most
admirable in effect, and the ornament in gold on blue fine. W. quite
mad with excitement.

"_November 20._ With Prince Teck to see Whistler and the room. Left P.
T. with Jimmy.

"_November 29._ Golden Peacocks promise to be superb.

"_December 4._ Peacocks superb.

"_December 8._ Article in _Morning Post_ on Peacock Room.

"_December 9._ Whistler in a state over article in _Morning Post_.
Leyland much perturbed as I heard.

"_December 15._ Whistler now thinking of cutting off the pendant
ceiling lamps in Peacock Room.

"_December 17._ My father and Probyn to see room. Jimmy much disgusted
at my father's telling him that, in taking so much pains over his work,
and in the minuteness of his etched work, he really was like Mulready,
who was equally scrupulous."

Lord Redesdale told us that, returning from Scotland, he went to
Prince's Gate. Whistler was on top of a ladder, looking like a little
imp--a gnome.

"But what are you doing?"

"I am doing the loveliest thing you ever saw!"

"But what of the beautiful old Spanish leather? And Leyland? Have you
consulted him?"

"Why should I? I am doing the most beautiful thing that ever has been
done, you know, the most beautiful room!"

Everybody wanted to see it. Whistler held a succession of receptions
at Prince's Gate. He was flattered when the Princess Louise and the
Marquis of Westminster came, he wrote to his mother at Hastings, for
they set the fashion, kept up the talk in London. Boughton said in his
_Reminiscences_: "He often asked me round to The Peacock Room, and I
see him still up on high, lying on his back often, working in 'gold
on blue' and 'blue on gold' over the whole expanse of the ceiling,
and, as far as I could see, he let no hand touch it but his own." Mrs.
Stillman, however, remembers the two pupils working while she drank tea
with Whistler. Lady Ritchie let us have her impressions of a visit:

"Long, long after the Paris days, Mr. Whistler danced when I would
rather have talked. Some one, I cannot remember who, it was probably
one of Mr. Cole's family, told me one day when I was walking up
Prince's Gate that he was decorating a house by which we were passing,
and asked me if I should like to go in. We found ourselves--it was like
a dream--in a beautiful Peacock Room, full of lovely lights and tints,
and romantic, dazzling effects. James Whistler, in a painter's smock,
stood at one end of the room at work. Seeing us, he laid down his
brushes, and greeted us warmly, and I talked of old Paris days to him.
'I used to ask you to dance,' he said, 'but you liked talking best.' To
which I answered, 'No, indeed, I liked dancing best,' and suddenly I
found myself whirling half-way down the room."

Jeckyll came, and his visit was tragic. When he saw what had been done
to his work, he hurried home, gilded his floor, and forgot his grief in
a mad-house.

Whistler received the critics on February 9, 1877. A leaflet, for
distribution, was written, it is said, by Whistler, though the wording
does not suggest it, and printed by Thomas Way. It explains that, with
the Peacocks as motive, two patterns, derived from the eyes and the
breast feathers, were invented and repeated throughout, sometimes one
alone, sometimes both in combination; along the dado, blue on gold,
over the walls, gold on blue, while the arrangement was completed by
the birds, painted in their splendour, in blue on the gold shutters,
in gold on the blue space opposite the chimney-place. "Called and
found Whistler elated with the praises of the Press of The Peacock
Room," is Mr. Cole's note on the 18th of the month. Even then it was
not finished. On March 5, Mr. Cole was "late at Prince's Gate with
Whistler, consoling him. He trying to finish the peacocks on shutters.
With him till 2 A.M., and walked home."

Whistler made no change in the architectural construction of the room.
It was far from beautiful, with its perpendicular lines, its heavy
ceiling, its hanging lamps, and its spaces so broken up that only
on the wall opposite the _Princesse_ and on the shutters could he
carry out his design in its full splendour and stateliness, and give
gorgeousness of form as well as colour; only there could he paint the
peacocks that were his motive, so that it is by artificial light, with
the shutters closed, that the room is seen in completeness. He could
do no more than adapt in marvellous fashion the eye of the peacock,
the throat and breast feathers to the broken surfaces. But in spite of
drawbacks, The Peacock Room is the "noble work" he called it to his
mother, the one perfect mural decoration of modern times. It was his
first chance, and it is a lasting reproach to his contemporaries that
there was no one to offer him another until too late.

Whistler, who in his pictures avoided literary themes, resorted to
symbolism in his gold peacocks on the wall facing the _Princesse_. One,
standing amid flying feathers and gold, clutches in his claws a pile of
coins; the other spreads his wings in angry but triumphant defiance:
"the Rich Peacock and the Poor Peacock," Whistler said, symbolising the
relations between patron and artist.

Leyland had been away from Prince's Gate for months. He had seen his
beautiful leather disappear beneath Whistler's blue and gold. He had
heard of receptions and press views to which no invitations had been
issued by him or to him, and he was annoyed at having his private house
turned into a public gallery. The crisis came when Whistler, thinking
himself justified by months of work, asked two thousand guineas for the
decoration of the room. Leyland, who had sanctioned only the retouching
of the leather, could restrain himself no longer. Like many generous
men, he had a strict, if narrow, sense of justice. The original
understanding was that Whistler should receive five hundred guineas.
This grew to a thousand as the scheme developed. But when, at the end,
Whistler demanded two thousand, and there was no contract, Leyland
sent Whistler one thousand pounds, not even guineas. To Whistler this
was an insult. He felt he had been treated not as an artist, but as a
tradesman. He never forgave Leyland, though, at one moment, Leyland
was prepared to pay the whole sum if Whistler would leave the house.
Whistler refused, preferring to make Leyland a gift of the decoration
than not finish the panel of the Peacocks, and he told Mr. Cole:

"You know, there Leyland will sit at dinner, his back to the
_Princesse_, and always before him the apotheosis of _l'art et
l'argent_!"

And this was what happened. Leyland knew that, in return for the loss
of his leather and his irritation with Whistler, he had been given
something beautiful, and he kept the dining-room as Whistler left
it, toning down not a flying feather, not a piece of gold in that
triumphant caricature. Until the colour fades from the panel, the world
cannot forget the quarrel. Whistler never forgot it, and his resentment
against Leyland never lessened. It may be that he was over-sensitive,
certainly he put himself in the wrong by his conduct to Leyland. But he
could no more help his manner of avenging what he thought an insult,
than the meek man can refrain from turning the other cheek to the
chastiser. It will ever be to Leyland's credit that he left the work
alone.

A few years ago the room was removed from the house in Prince's
Gate, bought by Messrs. Brown and Phillips, sold by them to Messrs.
Obach, who exhibited it in their Bond Street gallery, and it was then
purchased by Mr. Charles L. Freer and taken to Detroit. As he owns the
_Princesse_, The Peacock Room is probably once again just as it was
when Whistler finished it.



CHAPTER XVII: THE GROSVENOR GALLERY. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-SEVEN
AND EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT.


Many exhibitions had been organised in opposition to the Royal Academy,
but on too small a scale to contend against that rich and powerful
institution. Sir Coutts Lindsay, the founder of the Grosvenor Gallery,
brought to it money, a talent for organisation, and a determination
to show the best work in the right way. Nothing could have been more
in accord with Whistler's ideas. He dropped in to smoke with Mr.
Cole on the evening of March 19, 1876, "in great excitement over Sir
Coutts Lindsay's gallery for pictures--very select exhibition, which
he carried to an extreme by saying that it might be opened with only
one picture worthy of being shown that season." Sir Coutts Lindsay
proposed to exhibit no pictures save those he invited, and he might
have succeeded had he ignored the Academy, and made the Grosvenor as
distinct from it as the International Society of Sculptors, Painters
and Gravers was under Whistler's presidency. He had the daring to
invite Whistler, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt, Walter Crane,
Watts; but the weakness to include Millais, Alma-Tadema, Poynter,
Richmond, Leighton. "To those whose work he wanted, he gave little
dinners," Mr. Hallé has told us, and a very strange lot some of them
seemed to Sir Coutts probably, to his butler certainly. One evening the
butler could endure it no longer, and he came into the drawing-room and
whispered: "There's a gent downstairs says 'e 'as come to dinner, wot's
forgot 'is necktie and stuck a fevver in his 'air," for at this period
Whistler, Mr. Hallé says, never wore a necktie when in evening dress.
The white lock bewildered others. Mrs. Leyland remembered his going to
her box at the opera once, where the attendant leaned over and said:
"Beg your pardon, sir, but there's a white feather in your hair, just
on top!"

At first, Burne-Jones and the followers of the Pre-Raphaelites
were most in evidence at Sir Coutts Lindsay's exhibitions, and the
"greenery-yallery, Grosvenor Gallery" element prevailed. But the
Grosvenor, by the time its traditions were taken over by the New
Gallery, was little more than an overflow from the Academy.

Shortly before the first exhibition in 1877, Whistler's brother, the
doctor, was married to Miss Helen Ionides, a cousin of Aleco and Luke
Ionides. The wedding (April 17, 1877) was at St. George's, Hanover
Square, and the Greek Church, London Wall. It brought to Whistler
a good friend for the troubled years that were to come, and Mrs.
Whistler's house in Wimpole Street was for long a home to him.

The first Grosvenor was a loan exhibition, and opened in May 1877.
Whistler sent _Nocturne in Black and Gold--The Falling Rocket_ shown
at the Dudley; _Harmony in Amber and Black_, the first title of _The
Fur Jacket; Arrangement in Brown_; Irving as Philip II. of Spain, with
the title _Arrangement in Black, No. III_. From Mrs. Leyland came
_Nocturne in Blue and Silver_; from Mr. W. Graham another _Nocturne
in Blue and Silver_--changed later by Whistler to _Blue and Gold, Old
Battersea Bridge_, now at the Tate Gallery; from the Hon. Mrs. Percy
Wyndham, _Nocturne in Blue and Gold_, at Westminster. The _Carlyle_ was
included, but it arrived too late to be catalogued. Boehm lent his bust
of Whistler in terra-cotta, done in 1872, considered at the time a good
portrait.

Whistler's work was also seen in a frieze, described by Mr. Walter
Crane: "Whistler designed the frieze--the phases of the moon on the
coved ceiling of the West Gallery which has disappeared since its
conversion into the Æolian Hall, with stars on a subdued blue ground,
the moon and stars being brought out in silver, the frieze being
divided into panels by the supports of the glass roof. The 'phases'
were sufficiently separated from each other."

We have heard of this decoration from no one else. Probably it was
overshadowed by the crimson silk damask and green velvet hangings,
the gilded pilasters and furniture, the monumental chimneypiece, of
which complaints were heard from every side. The sumptuousness of the
background was disastrous to the pictures. Whistler's suffered less
than others, but were not liked the more on that account. Before the
private view (April 30, 1877), Sir Coutts Lindsay had expressed his
disappointment in the _Irving_ and the Nocturnes. At the private view
the crowd gathered in front of Alma-Tadema, Burne-Jones, Millais,
Leighton, Poynter, Richmond. The critics sneered at Whistler, or
patronised him. The _Athenæum_ grudged meagre lines to this "whimsical,
if capable, artist and his vagaries." The _Times_ smiled with
condescension at "Mr. Whistler's compartment, musical with strange
Nocturnes," wondered how Irving enjoyed "being reduced to a mere
arrangement," and deplored the theory that, in practice, covered
"an entire absence of details, even details generally considered so
important to a full-length portrait as arms and legs. In fact, Mr.
Whistler's full-length arrangements suggest to us a choice between
materialised spirits and figures in a London fog."

But no criticism was so insolent as the notice of the Grosvenor which
Ruskin delivered from his circulating pulpit, _Fors Clavigera_ (July 2,
1877).

Ruskin, though social subjects engrossed him, was still the art
critic powerful to the public, to himself infallible. He had made
the Pre-Raphaelites, he set to work to unmake Whistler. Already he
was attacked by the mental malady, the "morbid excitement" in Mr.
Collingwood's words, that obscured the last years of his life; he
had been very ill in the winter of 1877. Nothing else could pardon
his malice and insolence. He reserved his chief abuse for Whistler's
_Falling Rocket at Cremorne_, with the sudden burst of fire and shower
of gold and detail disappearing in the illimitable darkness of night.
That fireworks in a place of entertainment could have in them the
elements of beauty was a truth Ruskin could not grasp, and with this
wonderful canvas before him, he remained blind to the splendour of the
subject and the mastery of the painter: "I have seen and heard much of
cockney impudence before now, but never expected to hear a coxcomb ask
two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public's face."

Boughton, in his _Reminiscences_, tells that Whistler first chanced
upon this criticism when they were alone together in the smoking-room
of the Arts Club. "It is the most debased style of criticism I have had
thrown at me yet," Whistler said. "Sounds rather like libel," Boughton
suggested. "Well--that I shall try to find out!" Whistler replied.

Till now, his answer to abuse of his work had been the lash of his wit.
But if critics had tried him by their stupidity, never, before Ruskin,
had they outraged him by their venom. The insult appeared in a widely
read print; he sought redress in the most public fashion possible in
England, and sued Ruskin for libel.

The immediate result was that he found it harder to sell his pictures.
To buy his Nocturnes was to be ridiculed, Mr. Rawlinson, one of the few
who risked it, assures us. Whistler laughed away the new anxiety, and
devoted more time to black-and-white. He had hoped to go to Venice, but
the preparations for the trial kept him in London. And now Howell made
himself as useful to Whistler as he had been to Rossetti:

"Well, you, know, it happened one summer evening, in those old days
when there was real summer, I was sitting looking out of the window in
Lindsey Row, and there was Howell passing, and Rosa Corder was with
him. And I called to them and they came in, and Howell said: 'Why,
you have etched many plates, haven't you? You must get them out, you
must print them, you must let me see to them--there's gold waiting.
And you have a press!' And so I had, in a room upstairs, only it was
rusty, it hadn't been used for so long. But Howell wouldn't listen to
an objection. He said he would fix up the press, he would pull it. And
there was no escape. And the next morning, there we all were, Rosa
Corder, too, and Howell was pulling at the wheel, and there were basins
of water, and paper being damped, and prints being dried, and then
Howell was grinding more ink, and, with the plates under my fingers, I
felt all the old love of it come back. In the afternoon Howell would go
and see Graves, the printseller, and there were orders flying about,
and cheques--it was all amazing, you know! Howell profited, of course.
But he was so superb. One evening we had left a pile of eleven prints
just pulled, and the next morning only five were there. 'It's very
strange,' Howell said, 'we must have a search. No one could have taken
them but me, and that, you know, is impossible!'" There is a record of
this period in the etching, _Lady at a Window_, with Rosa Corder, or
Maud, by the garret window, looking at a print, the press behind her.

It was a period of what he called his "fiendish slavery to the press."
There were new plates. In 1878 _St. James's Street_ was reproduced by
lithography in the "Season Number" of _Vanity Fair_. The _Athenæum_
objected to it because it was "not done as Leech or Hogarth would have
done it." The _World_ mistook the reproduction for the original, and
so invited from Whistler one of the letters following each other fast:
"Atlas has the wisdom of ages, and need not grieve himself with mere
matters of art." _Adam and Eve--Old Chelsea_ has a special interest,
for it marks the transition from his early manner in the Thames Set to
the later handling in the Venetian. A plate was made from the _Irving
as Philip of Spain_, the only portrait Whistler reproduced on copper,
and it was not a success. His plates of Jo and Maud were never from
pictures, though often studies for pictures he proposed to paint. The
dry-point of his _Mother_ has no relation to the portrait. He was
bored to death with copying himself, he would say, and, twenty years
afterwards, when he undertook a lithograph of his _Montesquiou_ and
failed, he said that "it was impossible to produce the same masterpiece
twice over," that "the inspiration would not come," that when he was
not working at a new thing from Nature he was not applying himself, "it
was as difficult as for a hen to lay the same egg twice."

In 1878 he made his first experiments in lithography. His attention had
been called to it by Mr. Thomas Way, who did more than any other man
to revive the art in England. Lithography, appropriated by commerce,
was almost forgotten as a means of artistic expression. In France, it
was given over for cheaper and quicker methods of illustration; in
England it was overweighted by the ponderous performances of Haghe and
Nash, hedged about by trade unions, and reduced to the perfection of
commonplace. Lithographers here and there preserved its best traditions
and regretted the degradation. Mr. Thomas Way determined to interest
artists again in a medium that had yielded such splendid results. He
prepared stones for them, explained processes, and would not hear
of difficulties. Some artists experimented, but lithography did not
pay while the anecdote in paint fetched a fortune. Mr. Way appealed
to Whistler, who tried the stone, grasped its possibilities, and was
delighted. In his first five lithographs he did things never attempted
before and found the medium adapted to him. He made nine this year
on the stone, though his later work was mostly done on lithographic
paper. He proposed to publish this first series as _Art Notes_, but
there was no demand, and the plan fell through. _The Toilet_ and the
_Broad Bridge_ were printed in _Piccadilly_ (1878), edited by Mr.
Watts-Dunton, and they had hardly appeared when the magazine came to
an end. Neither Whistler nor lithography then meant success for any
enterprise.

In 1878, the _Catalogue of Blue and White Nankin Porcelain Forming the
Collection of Sir Henry Thompson_ was published. Mr. Murray Marks and
Mr. W. C. Alexander own delicate little designs of blue and white by
Whistler for Mr. Marks, but never used. They were a good preparation
for the drawings which, in collaboration with Sir Henry Thompson, he
made to illustrate the Catalogue. Some are in brown, some in blue,
reproduced by the Autotype Company. Nineteen of the twenty-six are by
Whistler, simple and direct, the modelling in the drawing by the brush
as the Japanese would have given it. As a rule there are neither
shadows nor attempts at relief. The series is a refutation of the
assertion that he could not draw. Whenever he attempted drawing of this
sort, or etchings like _The Wine Glass_, he eclipsed Jacquemart and
all his contemporaries. Worried, anxious, the libel case hanging over
him, his debts increasing, the general distrust in his work growing,
Whistler, nevertheless, gave to the catalogue his usual care. We have
seen another set of the drawings, which differ slightly from those
reproduced, and with which, evidently, he was not satisfied. The book
was edited by Mr. Murray Marks, and issued by Messrs. Ellis and White,
of 29 New Bond Street, in May, and Mr. Marks exhibited the drawings and
the porcelain, with the book, in his shop, 395 Oxford Street. The show
was not a success, the book was a loss, though only two hundred and
twenty copies were printed. Now it is almost impossible to get.

Of personal notice, Whistler had more than enough. He was caricatured
this year in _The Grasshopper_ at the Gaiety--it was in the days of
Edward Terry and Nellie Farren. A large full-length, thought by many
more a portrait than a caricature, was painted by Carlo Pellegrini,
an Italian artist who lived in England and, under the names of
"Singe" and "Ape," contributed to _Vanity Fair_ caricatures which,
unlike the characterless, artless scrawls of his more popular amateur
successors, were works of art and, therefore, appreciated by Whistler.
The painting shows Whistler in evening dress, no necktie, and a gold
chain to his monocle; and in a scene parodying the studios and artists
of the day, it was pushed in on an easel, some say by Pellegrini,
with the announcement, "Here is the inventor of black-and-white!" It
was a failure, and no wonder. It was impossible to see the point. The
painting now belongs to Mr. John W. Simpson of New York. Whistler was
also caricatured in _Vanity Fair_ by "Spy," Leslie Ward, then rapidly
rivalling "Ape" in popularity, and to be so caricatured was, in London,
to achieve notoriety.

To the second Grosvenor in 1878 he sent, in defiance to Ruskin, another
series of Nocturnes, Harmonies, and Arrangements. Among them was the
_Arrangement in White and Black, No. I._, the large, full-length
portrait of Miss Maud Franklin, that sometimes figures in catalogues
and articles as _L'Américaine_. We believe it was never shown in
England again. It passed in the early eighties into the collection
of Dr. Linde, at Lübeck, where it remained until 1904, was then sold
through Paris dealers to an American, and remains one of the least
known of Whistler's large full-lengths. We saw it in the spring of 1904
at M. Duret's apartment in the Rue Vignon. It is the only portrait,
except the _Connie Gilchrist_ and The _Yellow Buskin_, in which
Whistler attempted to give movement to the figure. Miss Franklin wears
a white gown in the ugly fashion of the late seventies, and walks
forward, one hand on her hip, the other holding up her skirt. But she
fails to fulfil Whistler's precept that the figure must keep within
the frame. She seems walking out of the depths of the background,
breaking through the envelope of atmosphere. The problem was difficult,
an unusual one for Whistler, and, interesting as is the result, the
portrait hardly ranks with the greatest. When shown in 1878, it did not
help to reconcile the critics. The _Athenæum_ said: "Mr. Whistler is
in great force. Last year some of his life-size portraits were without
feet; here we have a curiously shaped young lady, ostentatiously
showing her foot, which is a pretty large one." It was a "vaporous
full-length" in the opinion of the _Times_, babbling nonsense about
the Nocturnes and glad to turn from Whistler's "diet of fog to the
broad table of substantial landscape spread for us by Cecil G. Lawson."
Whistler contributed a drawing of the _Arrangement in White and Black_
to Blackburn's _Grosvenor Notes_, an illustrated catalogue published
for the first time in 1878. For many years Whistler made these little
sketches in pen and ink after his pictures for illustrated catalogues,
and for papers that illustrated notices of the exhibitions, an aid to
the identification of works where the titles fail.



CHAPTER XVIII: THE WHITE HOUSE. THE YEAR EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT.


In the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878, Whistler's only exhibit was
the section of a room that may have been his design for Mr. Alexander,
or more likely was his decoration for the White House which E. W.
Godwin, the architect, was building for him in Tite Street, Chelsea.
He called it a _Harmony in Yellow and Gold_, and others spoke of it as
the _Primrose Room_. It seems to have been simply a room painted in
gold and yellow, the peacock pattern again used, but this time in gold
on yellow and yellow on gold. There was simple furniture in yellow of
a darker tone than the walls, also a chimneypiece which, twelve years
or so afterwards, was found by Mr. Pickford Waller in a second-hand
furniture shop and bought. The stove was taken out; two panels, with
a pattern suggested for the dado, were turned into doors, and the
chimneypiece is now a cabinet with Whistler's decorations almost
untouched.

A few years ago Messrs. Obach had in their possession a set of glass
panels for a door from the house of Anderson Rose, stated to be
by Whistler, but there is no evidence of Whistler's work in them.
Recently a set of Empire chairs were shown in New York said to have
been decorated by Whistler for Wickham Flower, and so described at
Christie's where they were sold, but Messrs. Christie do not guarantee
the articles in their sales. To those who know Whistler's work there
was no trace of it in the chairs, and we have it on Mrs. Flower's
authority that the decorations were by Henry Treffy Dunn.

Mr. Sheridan Ford, in the suppressed edition of _The Gentle Art_,
writes that, at Sir Thomas Sutherland's request, Whistler designed a
scheme of decoration for his house, but that its "startling novelty
caused such evident anxiety," Whistler carried it no further. Some
houses he did decorate later on--those of Mrs. William Whistler, Mr.
William Heinemann, Senor Sarasate, Mrs. Walter Sickert, Mrs. D'Oyly
Carte, Mr. Menpes. But the decoration was simply the colour-scheme.
Whistler mixed the colour, which was usually put on by house-painters.
He frequently suggested the furniture, but of design, as in The Peacock
Room, there was nothing, not even in any of his own houses after the
White House. To one friend, thinking of decorating, who asked his
advice, his answer was, "Well, first burn all your furniture." Often
he gave elaborate directions as to what colours should be used and how
they were to be applied. Mrs. D'Oyly Carte wrote us:

[Illustration: THE MOTHER

ARRANGEMENT IN GREY AND BLACK

OIL

In the Musée du Luxembourg

(_See page 118_)]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF THOMAS CARLYLE

ARRANGEMENT IN GREY AND BLACK. NO. II

OIL

In the Corporation Art Gallery, Glasgow

(_See page 119_)]

"It would not be quite correct to say that Mr. Whistler designed the
decorations of my house, because it is one of the old Adam houses in
Adelphi Terrace, and it contained the original Adam ceiling in the
drawing-room and a number of the old Adam mantelpieces, which Mr.
Whistler much admired, as he did also some of the cornices, doors and
other things. What he did do was to design a colour-scheme for the
house, and he mixed the colours for distempering the walls in each
case, leaving only the painters to _apply_ them. In this way he got
the exact shade he wanted, which made all the difference, as I think
the difficulty in getting any painting satisfactorily done is that
painters simply have their stock shades which they show you to choose
from, and none of them seem to be the kind of shades that Mr. Whistler
managed to achieve by the mixing of his ingredients. He distempered
the whole of the staircase light pink; the dining-room a different and
deeper shade; the library he made one of those yellows he had in his
drawing-room at the Vale, a sort of primrose which seemed as if the sun
was shining, however dark the day, and he painted the woodwork with it
green, but not like the ordinary painters' green at all. He followed
the same scheme in the other rooms. His idea was to make the house gay
and delicate in colour."

When he left No. 2 Lindsey Row he suggested the colour arrangement
throughout the house for the new tenants, Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Morse,
got his man Cossens to do the distempering, and, Mrs. Morse writes
us, "was so afraid that we should do it wrongly that he personally
superintended the work and mixed the colour himself, though in
consequence of this a whole wash for the dining-room was spoilt, as he
forgot to stir it up at the right moment. There was great discussion
about gold size."

To decoration Whistler applied his scientific method of painting, and
on his walls, as in his pictures, black was often the basis. Colour
for him was as much decoration as pattern was for William Morris, and
in the use of flat colour for wall decoration Whistler has triumphed.
His theory of interior decoration, though people do not realise it, has
been universally adopted, even his use of distemper, in which he was
only carrying on the beautiful tradition of whitewashing walls. Not
only can this simple scheme be made more appropriate as a background
than Morris' hangings and stencillings, but it has the virtue of
utility and cheapness, which Morris for ever preached but never
practised. In the painting of pictures, the idea of the Pre-Raphaelites
was decoration--that is, convention. Their decoration was either
wilfully or ignorantly founded on the realism of the Middle Ages.
The great decorators of Italy were the realists of their day, their
realism, except in the case of the greatest, Piero della Francesca, is
now regarded as convention, and it is the Pre-Raphaelites who stirred
up these dead bones. In France, Puvis de Chavannes developed Italian
methods, adapting them to modern subjects and modern wants, retaining
the convention of flatness and simplicity. Whistler believed that
a portrait or a Nocturne should be as decorative as a conventional
design; that, by the arrangement of his subjects, and by their colour,
they should be made decorative, and not by conventional setting and
conventional lines. He also believed that walls should be in flat tones
and not covered with pattern. Pictures then placed upon them were shown
properly and did not struggle with the pattern. Lady Archibald Campbell
writes us a few lines proving that he could make people understand his
aims when they were willing to learn from him:

"The fundamental principles of decorative art with which Whistler
impressed me, related to the necessity of applying scientific methods
to the treatment of all decorative work; that to produce harmonious
effects in line and colour grouping, the whole plan or scheme should
have to be thoroughly thought out so as to be _finished_ before it was
practically begun. I think he proved his saying to be true, that the
fundamental principles of decorative art, as in all art, are based on
laws as exact as those of the known sciences. He concluded that what
the knowledge of a fundamental base has done for music, a similarly
demonstrative method must do for painting. The musical vocabulary which
he used to distinguish his creations always struck me as singularly
appropriate, though he had no knowledge of music."

Before the Ruskin case came into court, the idea of opening an
_atelier_ for students occurred to Whistler, and it was because the
painting-room at No. 2 Lindsey Row was too small that he asked Godwin
to build the house, ever since known as the White House, in Tite
Street. Up to this time he had never had a studio in Chelsea. His
pictures had been painted in rooms without a top-light, partly, no
doubt, that he might paint his sitters under natural conditions. Even
in his later studios of the Rue Notre-Dame des Champs in Paris, and
Fitzroy Street in London, shades and screens were drawn so that the
light might come in as from an ordinary window. He was trying to put
the figure into the atmosphere that surrounded it, not to cut it out
of this atmosphere. But he needed more space for the _atelier_, which
promised success. Among artists, there were always a few who believed
in Whistler. Duranty only expressed the prevailing feeling when, in the
_Gazette des Beaux-Arts_ (1878), he referred to Whistler's influence on
British painters represented in the Universal Exhibition.

The White House, low, three-storeyed, simple in ornament, is modest
compared to many houses in Tite Street. It has been much changed, but
the general plan survives. When it was built, it shared the fate, of
everything associated with Whistler. The white brick of the walls, the
green slate of the roof, the stone facings, the blue door and woodwork
were as "eccentric" and "fantastic" as Whistler himself to art-critical
journalists. To architectural papers they were the cause of debate and
calling of names. To the Metropolitan Board of Works the simplicity
of design was suspiciously plain, and mouldings in specified places
were insisted upon in return for the licence to build. Discussion
followed discussion, because the studio was the most important feature
of the interior and placed at the top of the house, because windows
and doors were made where they were wanted "and not with Baker Street
regularity," because Godwin and Whistler liked the lovely effect of
the green tiles with the white walls. Harry Quilter, who bought the
house in 1879 and altered it, probably ruined the colour-scheme which
Whistler had arranged, and the interior decoration, if it was ever
carried out, does not now exist.

Whistler's tenancy of the Lindsey Row house came to an end on June
25 (1878), but he could not leave it in time for the new tenants. He
did not get out of the studio until October. It was surprising that
he moved at all. The moment was one of debts and difficulties. He
was alone. His mother was ill at Hastings, he had just broken his
engagement with Leyland's sister-in-law,[7] and he had quarrelled with
Leyland. The criticism of the last few years told severely upon the
sale of his pictures--upon himself. Howell, who had "started cheques
and orders flying about" and attended to business details, kept a diary
during part of 1877 and all of 1878. To look through it is to share
Whistler's indignation that so great an artist should be reduced to
such shifts. In Kensington and St. John's Wood palaces, Academicians
could not turn pictures out fast enough for the competing crowd;
Whistler was often compelled to borrow a few shillings. There are
legends of his taking a hansom and driving to find somebody to lend
him half a crown to pay for it, and before he had found anybody and
could get rid of the cab the fare had mounted to half a guinea.
Howell's diary shows that he had to raise money before he could lend
it to Whistler. Sometimes larger sums than he could manage were
arranged by Anderson Rose, Whistler's patron and solicitor. As "ill
and worried," Howell describes Whistler on one of the visits to Mr.
Rose, and there was every reason he should be. A Mr. Blott figures
in other transactions. Whistler's letters to him have been sold and
published, and it would be useless to ignore their relations. Money for
the White House had to be obtained. To Mr. Blott he gave his _Carlyle_
as security for a hundred and fifty pounds, agreeing to pay interest,
offering other pictures as security if a sum of four hundred could be
advanced. Cheques were protested, writs were threatened. The pictures
he could not sell went wandering about as hostages. The _Mother_ for
awhile was with Mrs. Noseda, the Strand printseller. We have heard that
she would have sold it for a hundred pounds. Mr. Rawlinson, who saw
it either there or at Mr. Graves', has told us that nobody could have
bought it under such circumstances, after having seen it in Whistler's
bedroom, where it had hung and been shown by him with reverence. When
Whistler heard that Mrs. Noseda was offering the picture for this
price, he is said to have gone at once to remonstrate, and by his
vehemence to have made her ill.

One man who helped him through these troubled times was Henry Graves,
head of the firm in Pall Mall. Graves, introduced to Whistler by
Howell, agreed to engrave the portrait of Carlyle in mezzotint, and
Howell bought the copyright of the engraving from Whistler for eighty
pounds and six proofs. W. Josey was commissioned to make the plate.
Three hundred signed proofs of a first state were to be printed. The
plate would not stand so large an edition; it was steel-faced and, as
the steel-facing of mezzotint was not possible, turned out a failure.
The attempt to remove the steel ruined the ground, and Josey had to
be called in to go over it again. In the first state, the floor was
perfectly smooth, but, the steel-facing taken off, a spot appeared
in the plate which never could be got out and remained there through
the edition. After every seventy proofs printed, Josey had to work
on the plate and bring it back, as well as he could, to its original
condition. Whistler did not like the first proofs and offered to show
the printers how to do them. Mr. A. Graves went with him to Holdgate's,
the printer, in London Street. Whistler brought his own ink, put on an
apron, inked the plate as he would an etched one, while the whole shop
looked on. When the plate, wiped and ready, was put through the press,
it came out a shadow, the ink being far too weak. Whistler did not
try a second time. Mr. Graves preserved the proof, writing on it that
Whistler pulled it, and sold it for three guineas, to whom he does not
remember. Eventually Whistler was satisfied, for Howell, on December 2,
1878, gave Whistler what he calls his first proof, and the diary says:
"Whistler and the Doctor were delighted." It is also recorded in the
diary that one of Whistler's six proofs was sold to Lord Beaconsfield.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF CICELY HENRIETTA, MISS ALEXANDER

HARMONY IN GREY AND GREEN

In the National Gallery, London

(_See page 121_)]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF F. R. LEYLAND

ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK

OIL

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 124_)]

The print of the _Carlyle_ was very successful. At Howell's suggestion,
Graves agreed to give Whistler a thousand pounds for a portrait of
Disraeli, and the copyright: a plate to be made from it also.

Mr. Alan S. Cole says Whistler went to see Disraeli:

"_September 19_ (1878). Called on J., who told me of his interview with
Lord Beaconsfield as to painting a portrait of him. He had been down at
Hughenden--saw the old gentleman, who, however, declined."

Whistler's version was:

"Everything was most wonderful. We were the two artists
together--recognising each other at a glance! 'If I sit to any one, it
will be to you, Mr. Whistler,' were Disraeli's last words as he left me
at the gate. And then he sat to Millais!"

This scheme falling through, Graves commissioned Josey to engrave the
_Mother_, and afterwards the _Rosa Corder_, painted as a commission
from Howell. Whistler told us he offered the portrait as a present to
Howell, who declined and insisted on paying a hundred guineas for it,
the amount entered in Howell's diary as paid to Whistler on September
9, 1878. It was sold to R. A. Canfield in 1903 for two thousand pounds,
and now belongs to Mr. Henry C. Frick. Though these mezzotints were
successful when published, collectors thought as little of them as they
did at the time of those of a century earlier, and for years proofs
signed by both artist and engraver could be picked up for less than the
published price.

After the two pictures had been engraved by Josey, Howell deposited in
the same way three of the Nocturnes with Graves: _The Falling Rocket_,
_The Fire Wheel_, _Old Battersea Bridge--Blue and Gold_, and also
_The Fur Jacket_. These pictures were not engraved. Whistler had not
a minute to spare from legal troubles and impatient creditors. "Poor
J. turned up depressed--very hard up, and fearful of getting old," Mr.
Cole wrote in his diary for October 16, 1878. Whistler had reason for
depression. It was now that Howell's diary records his purchase of the
_Irving_ for ten pounds and a sealskin coat. There is nothing more
tragic in the story of Rembrandt's bankruptcy.

[Footnote 7: Mrs. Leyland told us of this engagement. We know nothing
more about it.]



CHAPTER XIX: THE TRIAL. THE YEAR EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT.


The action Whistler _v._ Ruskin, was heard on November 25-26, 1878.

John Ruskin, leader of taste, critic of art, prophet, and propounder
of the gospel of "the Beautiful," led not only a devout following, but
that enormous public which believes blindly in Britons. Whistler knew
that either he or Ruskin must settle the question whether an artist may
paint what he wants in his own way, though this may not be understood
by the patron, the critic, the Academy, or the real British judge, the
man in the street; whether the artist should rule or be ruled. The case
was, Whistler said, "between the Brush and the Pen." His motives were
ignored, the proceedings made a jest, and the verdict treated as a
farce. Few could, or do, realise that he was in earnest, that the trial
was a defence of his principles, and the verdict a justification of his
belief.

At the time Whistler was to the British public a charlatan, a
mountebank. Ruskin was to the People a preacher, the professor of art.
Whistler denied the right of Ruskin, master of English literature,
populariser of pictures, to declare himself infallible, as he did,
his head turned by his success in defence of the Pre-Raphaelites and
booming of Turner. As to his discoveries, Turner was a full R.A. and
Carpaccio had been accepted for centuries before he "discovered"
them. Ruskin did but popularise Carpaccio, and buy and sell Turner.
So good a friend of Ruskin's as W. M. Rossetti said that he was
"substantially wrong in the Whistler matter," that his mind broke down
at times, and that his mental troubles began in 1860. His conceit and
his vanity can be explained in no other way. Unfortunately he lived
in the only country where his arrogant pretensions would then have
been countenanced, though, owing to the present acceptance of England
and everything English, he has become something of a fetish abroad,
now that he is exposed and discredited at home. He was rich, he was a
University man, he contributed long letters to the _Times_. He was a
typical new British patron of the arts, for to him the financial side
of connoisseurship was of the greatest importance--"two hundred guineas
for flinging a pot of paint." Moreover, he was a master of English;
therefore he could commit any absurdity. As Whistler said, political
economists considered him a great art critic, and artists looked upon
him as a great political economist. Sometimes we have wondered if
there was not another reason for Ruskin's venom. He never appreciated
the great artists of the world, save certain Italians recognised long
before. His estimate of Velasquez and Rembrandt, and his comparison
between Turner and Constable, prove how little his now unheeded sermons
were ever worth. While he failed to comprehend Charles Keene, he went
into ecstasies over Kate Greenaway. He loved Stacy Marks and hated
Snyders. Whistler, knowing this, may have laughed. Mr. Collingwood
wrote that, long before the trial, Whistler "had made overtures to the
great critic through Mr. Swinburne, the poet; but he had not been taken
seriously." It is certain Ruskin was not taken seriously by the great
artist. Swinburne suggested a meeting in a letter of August 11, 1865,
to which we have referred (published in the _Library Edition of the
Works of John Ruskin_), but in such words that we gather there must
have been some sort of misunderstanding already between Whistler and
Ruskin. Swinburne wanted to take Ruskin to the studio and represented
Whistler as desirous of meeting him. It is likely that Whistler,
knowing Ruskin's power in the Press, was willing to be written about by
him, and also that Ruskin cherished whatever reason for dislike he had
for Whistler.

Anderson Rose prepared the case, and we know the pains and trouble
Whistler took over it. Judge Parry has shown us letters to his father
which prove this. Whistler warned Rose there was no use in making him
out a popular painter; better show the jury that the Academy and
Academicians were against him. He thought, at first, that the artists
would be on his side and would unite with him to drive the false
prophet out of the temple. But Ruskin the critic was to them more
powerful than Whistler the painter, and when the time came they sneaked
away, all except Albert Moore. Besides, there was the hope that the
Yankee would lose. Whistler told us "they hoped they could drive me out
of the country, or kill me! And if I hadn't had the constitution of a
Government mule, they would!"

Charles Keene, whom Whistler considered the greatest English artist
since Hogarth, could write on November 24, 1878:

"Whistler's case against Ruskin comes off, I believe, on Monday. He
wants to subpoena me as a witness as to whether he is (as Ruskin says)
an impostor or not. I told him I should be glad to record my opinion,
but begged him to do without me if he could. They say it will most
likely be settled on the point of law without going into evidence, but
if the evidence is adduced, it will be the greatest lark that has been
known for a long time in the courts."

Keene did not dare to stand up for Whistler and for art, and the
bitterness is in those last words--"a lark!"

In the Exchequer Division at Westminster the action for libel, in
which "Mr. James Abbott McNeill Whistler, _an_ artist, seeks to
recover damages against Mr. John Ruskin, _the_ well-known author and
art critic," came up before Baron Huddleston and a special jury. Our
account is compiled chiefly from the reports published in the _Times_
and the _Daily News_, November 26 and 27, 1878, from _The Gentle Art_,
and from what Whistler, Mr. Rossetti, Armstrong, Mr. Graves, and others
who were present have told us. According to Lady Burne-Jones, Ruskin
had been delighted at the prospect of the trial:

"It's nuts and nectar to me, the notion of having to answer for myself
in court, and the whole thing will enable me to assert some principles
of art economy which I've never got into the public's head by writing:
but may get sent over all the world vividly in a newspaper report or
two. Meanwhile _I've_ heard nothing of the matter yet, and am only
afraid the fellow will be better advised."

Nuts and nectar turned to gall and vinegar. In the early winter of 1878
rumours of his ill-health reached the papers. Lady Burne-Jones adds
that, when the action was brought, "although he had quite recovered
from his illness, he was not allowed to appear"--a curious sort of
recovery. But he was well enough on the morning of the 26th to write to
Charles Eliot Norton that "to-day I believe the comic Whistler lawsuit
is to be decided."

The court was crowded. Mr. Serjeant Parry and Mr. Petheram were
counsel for the plaintiff, and the Attorney-General (Sir John Holker)
and Mr. Bowen for the defendant. Mr. Serjeant Parry opened the case
for Whistler, "who has followed the profession of an artist for many
years, while Mr. Ruskin is a gentleman well known to all of us, and
holding perhaps the highest position in Europe or America as an art
critic. Some of his works are destined to immortality, and it is the
more surprising, therefore, that a gentleman holding such a position
could traduce another in a way that would lead that other to come
into a court of law to ask for damages. The jury, after hearing the
case, will come to the conclusion that a great injustice has been
done. Mr. Whistler, in the United States, has earned a reputation as
a painter and an artist. He is not merely a painter, but has likewise
distinguished himself in the capacity of etcher, achieving considerable
honours in that department of art. He has been an unwearied worker in
his profession, always desiring to succeed, and if he had formed an
erroneous opinion, he should not have been treated with contempt and
ridicule. Mr. Ruskin edits a publication called _Fors Clavigera_, that
has a large circulation among artists and art patrons. In the July
number of 1877 appeared a criticism of the pictures in the Grosvenor,
containing the paragraph which is the defamatory matter complained
of. Sir Coutts Lindsay is described as an amateur, both in art and
shopkeeping, who must take up one business or the other. Mannerisms
and errors are pointed out in the work of Burne-Jones, but whatever
their extent, his pictures 'are never affected or indolent. The work is
natural to the painter, however strange to us, wrought with the utmost
conscience and care, however far, to his or our desire the result may
seem to be incomplete. Scarcely so much can be said for any other
pictures of the modern schools. Their eccentricities are almost always
in some degree forced, and their imperfections gratuitously, if not
impertinently, indulged. For Mr. Whistler's own sake, no less than for
the protection of the purchaser Sir Coutts Lindsay ought not to have
admitted works into the gallery in which the ill-educated conceit of
the artist so nearly approaches the aspect of wilful imposture. I have
seen and heard much of cockney impudence before now, but never expected
to hear a coxcomb ask two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint
in the public's face.' Mr. Ruskin pleaded that the alleged libel was
privileged as being a fair and _bona fide_ criticism upon a painting
which the plaintiff had exposed to public view. But the terms in which
Mr. Ruskin has spoken of the plaintiff are unfair and ungentlemanly,
and are calculated to do, and have done him, considerable injury, and
it will be for the jury to say what damages the plaintiff is entitled
to."

Whistler was the first witness. He said: "I studied in Paris with
Du Maurier, Poynter, Armstrong. I was awarded a gold medal at The
Hague.... My etchings are in the British Museum and Windsor Castle
collections. I exhibited eight pictures at the Grosvenor Gallery in the
summer of 1877. No pictures were exhibited there save on invitation. I
was invited by Sir Coutts Lindsay to exhibit. The first was a _Nocturne
in Black and Gold--The Falling Rocket_. The second, a _Nocturne in
Blue and Silver_ [since called _Blue and Gold--Old Battersea Bridge_].
The third, a _Nocturne in Blue and Gold_, belonging to the Hon. Mrs.
Percy Wyndham. The fourth, a _Nocturne in Blue and Silver_, belonging
to Mrs. Leyland. The fifth, an _Arrangement in Black--Irving as Philip
II. of Spain_. The sixth, a _Harmony in Amber and Black_. The seventh,
an _Arrangement in Brown_. In addition to these, there was a portrait
of Mr. Carlyle. That portrait was painted from sittings Mr. Carlyle
gave me. It has since been engraved, and the artist's proofs were all
subscribed for. The Nocturnes, all but two, were sold before they
went to the Grosvenor Gallery. One of them was sold to the Hon. Percy
Wyndham for two hundred guineas--the one in _Blue and Gold_. One I sent
to Mr. Graham in lieu of a former commission, the amount of which was a
hundred and fifty guineas. A third one, _Blue and Silver_, I presented
to Mrs. Leyland. The one that was for sale was in _Black and Gold--The
Falling Rocket_."

Curiously, the only one for sale was pounced on by Ruskin. The coxcomb
was trying to get two hundred guineas, and the British commercial
critic spotted it.

Asked whether, since the publication of the criticism, he had sold a
Nocturne, Whistler answered: "Not by any means at the same price as
before."

The portraits of Irving and Carlyle were produced in court, and he is
said to have described the _Irving_ as "a large impression--a sketch;
it was not intended as a finished picture." We do not believe he said
anything of the sort.

He was then asked for his definition of a Nocturne: "I have perhaps,
meant rather to indicate an artistic interest alone in the work,
divesting the picture from any outside sort of interest which might
have been otherwise attached to it. It is an arrangement of line,
form, and colour first, and I make use of any incident of it which
shall bring about a symmetrical result. Among my works are some night
pieces; and I have chosen the word Nocturne because it generalises and
simplifies the whole set of them."

_The Falling Rocket_, though it is difficult here to follow the case,
was evidently produced at this point upside down; Whistler describing
it as a night piece, said it represented the fireworks at Cremorne.

_Attorney-General_: "Not a view of Cremorne?"

_Whistler_: "If it were called a view of Cremorne, it would certainly
bring about nothing but disappointment on the part of the beholders.
(Laughter.) It is an artistic arrangement."

_Attorney-General_: "Why do you call Mr. Irving an _Arrangement in
Black_?" (Laughter.)

The judge interposed, though in jest, for there was more laughter, and
explained that the picture, not Mr. Irving, was the _Arrangement_.

_Whistler_: "All these works are impressions of my own. I make them my
study. I suppose them to appeal to none but those who may understand
the technical matter."

And he added that it would be possible to see the pictures in
Westminster Palace Hotel close by, where he had placed them for the
purpose.

_Attorney-General_: "I suppose you are willing to admit that your
pictures exhibit some eccentricities. You have been told that over and
over again?"

_Whistler_: "Yes, very often." (Laughter.)

_Attorney-General_: "You send them to the gallery to invite the
admiration of the public?"

_Whistler_: "That would be such vast absurdity on my part that I don't
think I could." (Laughter.)

_Attorney-General_: "Can you tell me how long it took you to knock off
that Nocturne?"

_Whistler_: "I beg your pardon?" (Laughter.)

_Attorney-General_: "I am afraid that I am using a term that applies
rather perhaps to my own work...."

_Whistler_: ... "Let us say then, how long did I take to 'knock off'--I
think that is it--to knock off that Nocturne; well, as well as I
remember, about a day.... I may have still put a few more touches to it
the next day if the painting were not dry. I had better say, then, that
I was two days at work on it."

_Attorney-General_: "The labour of two days, then, is that for which
you ask two hundred guineas?"

_Whistler_: "No; I ask it for the knowledge of a lifetime."

_Attorney-General_: "You don't approve of criticism?"

_Whistler_: "I should not disapprove in any way of technical criticism
by a man whose life is passed in the practice of the science which he
criticises; but for the opinion of a man whose life is not so passed, I
would have as little regard as you would if he expressed an opinion on
law."

_Attorney-General_: "You expect to be criticised?"

_Whistler_: "Yes, certainly; and I do not expect to be affected by it
until it comes to be a case of this kind."

The Nocturne, the _Blue and Silver_, was then produced.

_Whistler_: "It represents Battersea Bridge by moonlight."

_The Judge_: "Is this part of the picture at the top Old Battersea
Bridge? Are those figures on the top of the bridge intended for people?"

_Whistler_: "They are just what you like."

_The Judge_: "That is a barge beneath?"

_Whistler_: "Yes, I am very much flattered at your seeing that. The
picture is simply a representation of moonlight. My whole scheme was
only to bring about a certain harmony of colour."

_The Judge_: "How long did it take you to paint that picture?"

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF MRS. F. R. LEYLAND

SYMPHONY IN FLESH-COLOUR AND PINK

OIL

In the possession of H. C. Finch, Esq.

(_See page 125_)]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF MISS LEYLAND

PASTEL

In the possession of the Executors of Mrs. F. R. Leyland

(_See page 124_)

_Whistler_: "I completed the work in one day, after having arranged the
idea in my mind."[8]

"The court adjourned, and the jury went to see the pictures at the
Westminster Palace Hotel. When, on their return, the _Nocturne in Black
and Gold--The Falling Rocket_, was produced, the Attorney-General asked:

"How long did it take you to paint that?"

_Whistler_: "One whole day and part of another."

_Attorney-General_: "What is the peculiar beauty of that picture?"

_Whistler_: "It would be impossible for me to explain to you, I am
afraid, although I dare say I could to a sympathetic ear."

_Attorney-General_: "Do you not think that anybody looking at the
picture might fairly come to the conclusion that it had no particular
beauty?"

_Whistler_: "I have strong evidence that Mr. Ruskin did come to that
conclusion."

_Attorney-General_: "Do you think it fair that Mr. Ruskin should come
to that conclusion?"

_Whistler_: "What might be fair to Mr. Ruskin, I cannot answer. No
artist of culture would come to that conclusion."

_Attorney-General_: "Do you offer that picture to the public as one of
particular beauty, fairly worth two hundred guineas?"

_Whistler_: "I offer it as a work that I have conscientiously executed
and that I think worth the money. I would hold my reputation upon this,
as I would upon any of my other works."

Mr. W. M. Rossetti was the next witness. He was Ruskin's friend as well
as Whistler's, and the position was not pleasant. But, he has written
us, he was "compelled to act, willy-nilly, in opposition to Ruskin's
interest in the action."

_Rossetti_: "I consider the _Blue and Silver_ an artistic and beautiful
representation of a pale but bright moonlight. I admire Mr. Whistler's
pictures, but not without exception. I appreciate the meaning of the
titles. The _Falling Rocket_ is not one of the pictures I admire."

_Attorney-General_: "Is it a gem?" (Laughter.)

_Rossetti_: "No."

_Attorney-General_: "Is it an exquisite painting?"

_Rossetti_: "No."

_Attorney-General_: "Is it very beautiful?"

_Rossetti_: "No."

_Attorney-General_: "Is it a work of art?"

_Rossetti_: "Yes, it is."

_Attorney-General_: "Is it worth two hundred guineas?"

_Rossetti_: "Yes."

Albert Moore said that Whistler's pictures were beautiful, and that no
other painter could have succeeded in doing them. The _Black and Gold_
he looked upon as simply marvellous, the most consummate art. Asked
if there was eccentricity in the picture, he said he should call it
originality.

W. G. Wills testified to the knowledge shown in the pictures; they were
the works of a man of genius.

Mr. Algernon Graves was in court to give evidence to the popularity
of the _Carlyle_. As the picture was not catalogued when exhibited at
the Grosvenor, Baron Huddleston ruled that there was no proof of its
having been exhibited in 1877, and he was not called. These were the
only witnesses for Whistler, though we have seen a letter he wrote to
Anderson Rose suggesting Haweis, who had preached "a poem of praise"
about The Peacock Room, and Prince Teck, who might be asked to swear
that he "thought it a great piece of art." We have also seen the draft
of a letter to Tissot upon whose aid he relied.

The Attorney-General submitted there was no case. But Baron Huddleston
could not deny that the criticism held Whistler's work up to ridicule
and contempt; that so far it was libellous, and must, therefore, go to
the jury. It was for the Attorney-General to prove it fair and honest
criticism.

The Attorney-General's address to the jury began with praise of Ruskin,
it went on with ridicule of the testimony for the plaintiff, it
finished with contempt for Whistler and his work.

"The Nocturnes were not worthy the name of great works of art. He had
that morning looked into the dictionary for the meaning of coxcomb,
and found that the word carried the old idea of the licensed jester
who had a cap on his head with a cock's comb in it. If that were the
true definition, Mr. Whistler should not complain, because his pictures
were capital jests which had afforded much amusement to the public. He
said, without fear of contradiction, that if Mr. Whistler founded his
reputation on the pictures he had shown in the Grosvenor Gallery, the
_Nocturne in Black and Gold_, the _Nocturne in Blue and Silver_, his
_Arrangement of Irving in Black_, his representation of the _Ladies
in Brown_, and his _Symphonies in Grey and Yellow_, he was a mere
pretender to the art of painting."

In Ruskin's absence, Burne-Jones was the first witness called for
the defence. Lady Burne-Jones says, in her _Memorials of Edward
Burne-Jones_, that on November 2, Ruskin had written to him:

"I gave your name to the blessed lawyer, as chief of men to whom they
might refer for anything which, in their wisdom, they can't discern
unaided concerning me."

She adds that for her husband: "Few positions could have been more
annoying or difficult for the paragraph containing the sentence in
question--one of Ruskin's severest condemnations--was practically
a comparison between Mr. Whistler's work and Edward's own. But the
subject covered so much wider ground than any personality that Edward
was finally able to put this thought aside, and did with calmness what
he had undertaken to do, namely--endorse Ruskin's criticism that good
workmanship was essential to a good picture."

Walter Crane stated in his _Reminiscences_ that he met Burne-Jones
at dinner at Leyland's not long before the trial; and that then
Burne-Jones would not see Whistler's merit as an artist. "He seemed
to think there was only one _right_ way of painting.... Under the
circumstances he could hardly afford to allow any credit to Whistler."

In court Burne-Jones temporised. He admitted Whistler's art, but
regretted the want of finish in Whistler's pictures; so strengthening
the impression of the laziness, levity, or looseness of Whistler. In
his "deliberate judgment" Mrs. Leyland's _Blue and Silver_ was a work
of art, but a very incomplete one. "It did not show the finish of a
complete work of art," yet "it is masterly. Neither in composition,
detail, nor form has the picture any quality whatever, but in colour it
has a very fine quality.... _Blue and Silver--Old, Battersea Bridge_,
in colour is even better than the other. It is more formless, it is
bewildering in form. As to composition and detail, there is none
whatever. It has no finish. I do not think Mr. Whistler intended it to
be regarded as a finished picture."

_Mr. Bowen_: "Now, take the _Nocturne in Black and Gold--The Falling
Rocket_, is that, in your opinion, a work of art?"

_Burne-Jones_: "No, I cannot say that it is. It is only one of a
thousand failures that artists have made in their efforts to paint
night."

_Mr. Bowen_: "Is that picture in your judgment worth two hundred
guineas?"

_Burne-Jones_: "No, I cannot say it is, seeing how much careful work
men do for much less. Mr. Whistler gave infinite promise at first, but
I do not think he has fulfilled it. I think he has evaded the great
difficulty of painting, and has not tested his powers by carrying
it out. The difficulties in painting increase daily as the work
progresses, and that is the reason why so many of us fail. We are none
of us perfect. The danger is this, that if unfinished pictures become
common, we shall arrive at a stage of mere manufacture and the art of
the country will be degraded."

Mr. Frith, R.A., was next called. Truly, Ruskin found himself with
strange supporters. Frith was chosen, we have been told, because Ruskin
wanted some one who could not be thought biased in his favour.

_Mr. Bowen_: "Are the pictures works of art?"

_Frith_: "I should say not."

_Mr. Bowen_: "Is the _Nocturne in Blue and Gold_ a serious work of art?"

_Frith_: "Not to me. It is not worth, in my opinion, two hundred
guineas. _Old Battersea Bridge_ does not convey the impression of
moonlight to me in the slightest degree. The colour does not represent
any more than you could get from a bit of wallpaper or silk."

In cross-examination he contradicted himself, and said that he thought
Mr. Whistler had "very great power as an artist."

Ruskin's final supporter was Tom Taylor, critic of the _Times_. No, he
said, the _Nocturne in Black and Gold_ was not a good picture, and, to
prove it, he read his own criticism in the _Times_, and his assertion
there that the Nocturnes were worth doing because they were the only
things that Whistler could do.

A portrait by Titian was then shown, in order to explain Burne-Jones'
idea of finish, and the jury, mistaking it for a Whistler, would have
none of it.

Mr. Bowen, in summing up the case, said that all that Ruskin had done
was to express an opinion on Whistler's pictures--an opinion to which
he adhered. This was about all he could say except, in conclusion, to
appeal to the jury. There was no defence. Mr. Serjeant Parry, in his
reply, pointed out that they had not dared to ask if Whistler deserved
to be stigmatised as a wilful impostor, and that even if Ruskin had
not been well enough to attend the court "he might have been examined
before a commission. His decree has gone forth that Whistler's pictures
were worthless. He has not supported that by evidence. He has not
condescended to give reasons for the view he has taken, he has treated
us with contempt, as he treated Whistler. He has said: 'I, Mr. Ruskin,
seated on my throne of art, say what I please and expect all the world
to agree with me.' Mr. Ruskin is a great writer, but not as a man;
as a man he has degraded himself. His tone in writing the article
is personal and malicious. Mr. Ruskin's criticism of Mr. Whistler's
pictures is almost exclusively in the nature of a personal attack, a
pretended criticism of art which is really a criticism upon the man
himself, and calculated to injure him. It was written recklessly,
and for the purpose of holding him up to ridicule and contempt. Mr.
Ruskin has gone out of his way to attack Mr. Whistler personally, and
must answer for the consequences of having written a damnatory attack
upon the painter. This is what is called pungent criticism, stinging
criticism, but it is defamatory, and I hope the jury will mark their
disapproval by their verdict."

The Judge pointed out that "there are certain words by Mr. Ruskin,
about which I should think no one would entertain a doubt: those words
amount to a libel. The critic should confine himself to criticism and
not make it a veil for personal censure or for showing his power. The
question for the jury is, did Mr. Whistler's ideas of art justify the
language used by Mr. Ruskin? And the further question is whether the
insult offered--if insult there has been--is of such a gross character
as to call for substantial damages? Whether it is a case for merely
contemptuous damages to the extent of a farthing, or something of that
sort, indicating that it is one which ought never to have been brought
into court, and in which no pecuniary damage has been sustained; or
whether the case is one which calls for damages in some small sum as
indicating the opinion of the jury that the offender has gone beyond
the strict letter of the law."

After an hour's deliberation, the jury gave their verdict for the
plaintiff--damages one farthing. The Judge emphasised his contempt by
giving judgment for Whistler without costs; that is, both sides had to
pay.

It is said that Whistler wore the farthing on his watch-chain. We never
saw it, we never knew him to wear a watch-chain. But he made a drawing
of the farthing for _The Gentle Art_.

"The whole thing was a hateful affair," Burne-Jones wrote to Rossetti,
and many agreed with him, though for other reasons. The _Times_, the
_Spectator_, and the _Portfolio_ pronounced the verdict satisfactory to
neither party, virtually a censure upon both. Mr. Graves, who watched
the trial without the responsibility he was disposed to meet, says:

"I have always felt that, had the plaintiff's counsel impressed upon
the jury that Mr. Ruskin had mentioned the price asked for the picture,
a matter that has always been outside the critic's province, as well as
criticising them as works of art, the result to Mr. Whistler would have
been more in his favour. Mr. Tom Taylor was never asked whether he had
ever criticised the price as well as the quality."

Armstrong has told us of the suppression of important letters: "A
little while before the trial I met Whistler one evening at the Arts
Club, and he told me of his hopes of a favourable result. My sympathies
were entirely on his side. He assured me that he had evidence, which
I believe could not fail to be effective, in the shape of letters
from Leighton, P.R.A.; Burton, Director of the National Gallery; and
Poynter, R.A., then Director for Art at S.K., speaking highly of the
moonlight pictures. These letters seemed to me most important, for
they were from people in official positions, whose good words would
have weighed with the British jurymen. Nothing was said about these
letters in the newspaper reports, and I asked Jimmie the reason for
this omission of the strongest evidence on his side. He told me that
the writers of the letters had objected to their being put in, and so
he had refrained from using them, and without the personal testimony
of the writers they would not have been accepted as evidence in court.
After the trial I saw Holker and asked him if he had been helping to
smirch any more poor artists. He replied that he was bound to do the
best he could for his client. I told him he would never have allowed
the exhibition of the pictures in court if he had been Whistler's
counsel, and he asked: 'Why didn't Jimmie have me?' I explained that I
had recommended his being retained, but it was objected that his fee
would be too heavy, and he said, 'I'd have done it for nothing for
Jimmie.' I was very sorry that Mr. Ruskin was not punished."

Arthur Severn wrote us that, at the Ruskin trial, he "was on the
opposite side, although my sympathies were rather with Whistler, whose
_Nocturne in Black and Gold_ I knew to be carefully painted. Whenever
we met he was most courteous, understanding my position. During the
trial one of the Nocturnes were handed across the court over the
people's heads, so that Whistler might verify it as his work. On its
way, an old gentleman with a bald head got a tap from the frame, then
the picture showed signs of falling out of its frame, and when Serjeant
Parry turned to Whistler and said 'Is that your work, Mr. Whistler?'
the artist, putting his eye-glass up and with his slight American
twang, said, 'Well, it was, but if it goes on much longer in that way,
I don't think it will be.' And when Ruskin's Titian was shown, 'Oh,
come, we've had enough of those Whistlers,' said a juryman. I thought
Whistler looked anxious whilst the jury was away. Another trial came
on so as not to waste time. The court was dark, and candles had to
be brought in--it seemed to be about some rope, and huge coils were
on the solicitors' table. A stupid clerk was being examined. Nothing
intelligent could be got out of him, and at last Mr. Day, one of the
counsel (afterwards the judge), said, 'Give him the rope's end,' which
produced great laughter in court, in which Whistler heartily joined.
Then, suddenly, a hush fell; the jury returned a verdict for Whistler,
damages one farthing."

There was a report of an application for a new trial. A desire was
expressed that friends of artist and critic might adjust the dispute.
But Whistler made no application, called for no arbitration. He
accepted his farthing damages. The British public rallied to their
prophet, and got up a subscription for the rich man. It was managed
by the Fine Art Society. The account was opened at the Union Bank of
London in the names of Burne-Jones, F. S. Ellis, and Mr. Marcus B.
Huish, and by December 10 a subscription list was published, amounting
already to one hundred and fifty-one pounds, five shillings and
sixpence, headed by Burne-Jones, five guineas. The costs were estimated
at three hundred and eighty-five pounds, and Mr. E. T. Cook says that
eventually they were paid by his friends.

According to W. M. Rossetti, "Whistler wrote to Anderson Rose, saying
it would be at least equally appropriate for a band of subscribers to
pay his costs; and, he added, 'And in the event of a subscription I
would willingly contribute my own mite.'"

Mr. J. P. Heseltine started a fund for Whistler, and a list was opened
at the office of _L'Art_, 134 New Bond Street. But nothing came of it,
except that Whistler sent one of his pastels to Mr. Heseltine. For
Whistler, the poor man, the costs were not paid, and he went through
the bankruptcy court.

Letters flowed into the papers. There were interviews. Witticisms went
the rounds. Whistler is reported to have said, "Well, you know, I
don't go so far as to Burne-Jones, but really somebody ought to burn
Jones' pictures!" A few journalists did not forget that Whistler was
an artist, a few people were sympathetic, a few congratulations were
received at the White House. If Whistler was disappointed he kept it
to himself. He would have liked better to get his costs and damages,
he said. But the verdict was a moral triumph. He had gone into court
not for damages but to vindicate his position, and, therefore, that of
artists.

Whistler explained this position in _Whistler_ v. _Ruskin--Art and
Art Critics_ (December 1878), the first of his series of pamphlets in
brown-paper covers. It was printed by Spottiswoode, though his idea was
to have it lithographed by Way, and published by Chatto and Windus.
He dedicated it to Albert Moore. It is a protest against the folly of
the Pen in venturing to criticise the Brush. Literature is left to the
literary man, science to the scientist, why then should art be at the
mercy of "the one who was never in it," but whose boast it is that he
is doing good to art. The critics "are all 'doing good'--yes, they all
do good to Art. Poor Art! what a sad state the slut is in, and these
gentlemen shall help her." Ruskin resigned the Slade Professorship.
He wrote to Dean Liddell from Brantwood (November 28, 1878) that the
result of the Whistler trial left him no option. "I cannot hold a chair
from which I have no power of expressing judgment without being taxed
for it by British Law." Unless he continued to be the Pope and the
Prophet he believed himself, he could not go on. He could not stand
criticism, and he collapsed when his criticism was questioned. The
trial, he wrote, made his professorship a farce. Whistler suggested
that Ruskin might fill a Chair of Ethics instead. "_Il faut vivre_,"
was the cry of the art critic but Whistler said, "_Je n'en vois pas la
nécessité_."

Whistler won. The trial was a triumph. But he had to pay heavily for
his victory.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF MRS. LOUIS HUTH

ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK. NO. II

OIL

In the possession of the Executors of the Family

(_See page 126_)]

[Illustration: FANNY LEYLAND

STUDY FOR THE ETCHING. G. 108

PENCIL SKETCH

Formerly in the possession of J. H. Wren, Esq.

(_See page 124_)]

[Footnote 8: This picture then belonged to Mr. Graham, and some years
after at his sale at Christie's was received with hisses. It was
purchased by Mr. Robert H. C. Harrison for sixty pounds, and at the
close of the London Whistler Memorial Exhibition was sold for two
thousand guineas to the National Arts Collection Fund, by whom it was
presented to the nation. It now hangs in the National Gallery. See
Chapter XXIX.]



CHAPTER XX: BANKRUPTCY. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-EIGHT AND EIGHTEEN
SEVENTY-NINE.


Whistler's financial affairs were in hopeless confusion. The builder's
estimate for the White House was largely exceeded, the cost of the
trial had to be paid for, the _atelier_ waited for pupils, and the
debts brought from Lindsey Row were many. He wrote to his mother at
Hastings of his economies and his hopes to pay his debts, but he did
not know the meaning of economy. There is a legend of a grocer who had
let a bill for tomatoes and fruit run up to six hundred pounds, and
when, after the trial, he insisted on settlement, Whistler said:

"How--what--why--why, of course, you have sent these things--most
excellent things--and they have been eaten, you know, by most
excellent people. Think what a splendid advertisement. And sometimes,
you know, the tomatoes are not quite up to the mark, the fruit, you
know, not quite fresh. And if you go into these unseemly discussions
about the bill--well, you know, I shall have to go into discussions
about all this--and think how it would hurt your reputation with all
these extraordinary people. I think the best thing is not to refer
to the past--I'll let it go, and in the future we'll have a weekly
account--wiser, you know."

The grocer left without his money, but was offered in payment two
Nocturnes, one the upright Valparaiso. Another story of the same grocer
is that he arrived with his account as a grand piano was being carried
in. Whistler said he was so busy he couldn't attend to the matter just
then, and the grocer thought if grand pianos were being bought, it
must be all right. To a dealer in rugs Whistler would have given three
Nocturnes in payment, but the dealer refused and spent the rest of his
life regretting it.

It was nothing unusual for bailiffs to be in possession, or for bills
to cover the walls. The first time this happened, Whistler said to the
people whom he invited to dine that they might know his house by the
bills on it. When someone complained that creditors kept him walking up
and down all night, Whistler was amused:

"Dear me! Do as I do! Leave the walking up and down to the creditors!"

Of the bailiffs he made a new feature at his breakfasts. Mrs. Lynedoch
Moncrieff has told us of a Sunday when two or three men waited with
Whistler's servant, John, and she said to Whistler:

"I am glad to see you've grown so wealthy."

"Ha, ha! Bailiffs! You know, I had to put them to some use!"

Mr. Rossetti and his wife once found the same "liveried attendants."

"'Your servants seem to be extremely attentive, Mr. Whistler, and
anxious to please you,' one of the guests said. 'Oh yes,' was his
answer, 'I assure you they wouldn't leave me.'"

Others remember a Sunday when the furniture was numbered for a sale.
When breakfast was announced by a bailiff, Whistler said: "They are
wonderful fellows. You will see how excellently they wait at table, and
to-morrow, you know, if you want, you can see them sell the chairs you
sit on every bit as well. Amazing."

Mrs. Edwin Edwards wrote us that when three men were in possession,
he treated them while his friends carted away his pictures out of the
back door. Others say that the bailiffs, multiplied to seven, were
invited into the garden, and given beer with a little something in
it. No sooner had they tasted than down went their heads on the table
round which they sat. People dining with Whistler that evening were
taken into the garden to see the seven sleepers of Ephesus: "Stick pins
in them, shout in their ears--see--you can't wake them!" All evening
it rained and it rained, and it thundered, and it lightened, and it
hailed. All night they slept. Morning came and they slept. But at the
hour when he had given them their glass the day before, they all woke
up and asked for more.

One of the bailiffs at the end of a week, demanded his money. Whistler
said:

"If I could afford to keep you I would do without you."

"But what is to become of my wife and family if I don't get my wages,
sir?"

"Ha ha! You must ask those who sent you here to answer that question."

"Really, Mr. Whistler, sir, I need the money."

"Oh ho! Have a man in yourself."

Whistler said "it was kind of them to see to such tedious affairs." One
he asked: "And how long will you be 'the man in possession?'"

"That, Mr. Whistler, sir, depends on your paying Mr. ----'s bill.

"Awkward for me, but perhaps more for you! I hope you won't mind it,
though, you know, I fear your stay with me will be a lengthy one.
However, you will find it not entirely unprofitable, for you will see
and hear much that may be useful to you."

When things got more desperate, bills covered the front of the house,
announcing the sale. Whistler, begging the bailiffs to be at home,
went one night to dine. It was stormy, and, returning late, he found
that the rain had washed the bills loose and they were flapping in the
wind. He woke up the bailiffs, made them get a ladder, and paste every
bill down again. He had allowed them to cover his house with their
posters, but, so long as he lived in it, no man should sleep with it in
a slovenly condition.

Early in May 1879, Whistler was declared bankrupt. His liabilities were
four thousand six hundred and forty-one pounds, nine shillings and
three pence, and his assets, one thousand nine hundred and twenty-four
pounds, nine shillings and four pence. In his long overcoat, longer
than ever, swinging his cane lengthening in defiance, his hat set
jauntily on his curls, he appeared in the City:

"Ha ha! Well, you know, here I am in the City! Amazing! You know, on
the way, I dropped in to see George Lewis, being in the neighbourhood,
and, you know, ha ha, he gave me a paper for you to sign!"

It was a petition in bankruptcy.

The creditors met at the Inns of Court Hotel in June. Sir Thomas
Sutherland was in the chair, and Leyland, the chief creditor, and
various Chelsea tradesmen attended. The only novelty in the proceedings
was a speech by Whistler on plutocrats, men with millions, and what he
thought of them, and it was with difficulty he was called to order. A
committee of examiners was appointed, composed of Leyland, Howell, and
Thomas Way.

Leyland was not let off by Whistler. As Michael Angelo, painting the
walls of the Sistine Chapel, plunged the critic who had offended him
into hell, so Whistler immortalised the man by whom he thought himself
wronged. He painted three pictures. The first was _The Loves of the
Lobsters--an Arrangement in Rats_, the most prominent lobster in the
shirt-frills of Leyland. "Whom the gods wish to make ridiculous, they
furnish with a frill!" he said, and the saying was repeated until it
reached Leyland, as he meant it should. The second was _Mount Ararat_,
Noah's Ark on a hill, with little figures all in frills. The third
was the _Gold Scab--Eruption in Frilthy Lucre_, a creature, breaking
out in scabs of golden sovereigns, wearing the frill, seated on the
White House playing the piano. The hideousness of the figure is more
appalling because of the colour, the design. A malicious joke begun
in anger, Mr. Arthur Symons has described it, from which "beauty
exudes like the scent of a poisonous flower." Years after, when it
was exhibited at the Goupil Gallery, one of the serious new critics
regretted that Whistler allowed himself to be influenced by Beardsley.
These caricatures alone were in the studio when Leyland and the
committee made the inventory. Augustus Hare wrote (May 13, 1879) of a
visit in the meantime:

"This morning I went with a very large party to Whistler's studio. We
were invited to see the pictures, but there was only one there, _The
Loves of the Lobsters_. It was supposed to represent Niagara, and
looked as if the artist had upset the inkstand, and left Providence
to work out its own results. In the midst of the black chaos were
two lobsters curveting opposite each other, and looking as if they
were done with red sealing-wax. 'I wonder you did not paint the
lobsters making love before they were boiled,' aptly observed a lady
visitor. 'Oh, I never thought of that,' said Whistler. It was a joke,
I suppose. The little man, with his plume of white hair ('the Whistler
tuft' he calls it) waving on his forehead, frisked about the room,
looking most strange and uncanny, and rather diverted himself over our
disappointment in coming so far and finding nothing to see. People
admire like sheep his pictures in the Grosvenor Gallery, following each
other's lead because it is the fashion."

Worried as he was, Whistler sent to the Grosvenor of 1879 the _Portrait
of Miss Rosa Corder_, _Portrait of Miss Connie Gilchrist_, _The
Pacific_, _Nocturne in Blue and Gold_, six etchings, two studies in
chalk, and three pastels. His etching, _Old Putney Bridge_, was at the
Royal Academy. The critics talked the usual nonsense, and have since
repented it. Mr. (now Sir) Frederick Wedmore distinguished himself by
an article: _Mr. Whistler's Theories and Mr. Whistler's Art_, in the
_Nineteenth Century_ (August 1879), and afterwards reprinted in _Four
Masters of Etching_ (1883). He could appreciate Whistler's work as
little as he could understand _Art and Art Critics_, and from its wit
was--and is--still smarting. Whistler he placed as:

"Long ago an artist of high promise. Now he is an artist often of
agreeable, though sometimes of incomplete and seemingly wayward
performance.... That only the artist should write on art by continued
reiteration may convince the middle-class public that has little of the
instinct of art. But, sirs, not so easily can you dispense with the
services of Diderot and Ruskin."

Wedmore had apparently never heard of Cennini and Dürer, Vasari and
Cellini, Da Vinci and Reynolds and Fromentin, who remain, while Diderot
and Ruskin and Wedmore himself are discredited or forgotten. He
regretted that Whistler's "painted work is somewhat apt to be dependent
on the innocent error that confuses the beginning with the end." He
condemned the _Portrait of Henry Irving_ as a "murky caricature of
Velasquez," the _Carlyle_ as "a doleful canvas." The Nocturnes were
"encouraging sketches," with "an effect of harmonious decoration, so
that a dozen or so of them on the upper panels of a lofty chamber
would afford even to the wallpapers of William Morris a welcome and
justifiable alternative.... They suffer cruelly when placed against
work not, of course, of petty and mechanical finish, but of patient
achievement. But they have a merit of their own, and I do not wish to
understate it."

Whistler had "never mastered the subtleties of accurate form"; "the
interest of life--the interest of humanity" had little occupied him,
_but_ Wedmore hoped that the career, begun with promise, "might not
close in work too obstinately faithful to eccentric error." By his
etchings his name might "aspire to live," though, "for his fame, Mr.
Whistler has etched too much, or at least has published too much,"
though there is "commonness and vulgarity" in the figures in many
prints, though he "lacked the art, the patience, or the will to
continue" others.

"The future will forget his disastrous failures, to which in the
present has somehow been accorded, through the activity of friendship,
or the activity of enmity, a publicity rarely bestowed upon failures at
all."

In the same month and year, August 1879, an American, Mr. W. C.
Brownell, published in _Scribner's Monthly_ an article on _Whistler
in Painting and Etching_. He treated Whistler and his work with a
seriousness in "significant" contrast to Wedmore's clumsy flippancy.
This was the first intelligent American article in Whistler's support,
and it was illustrated by wood-engravings of his paintings and prints.
Amidst the torrent of abuse, it came when Whistler most needed it. But
it was not taken seriously, and much was made of Mr. Brownell's slip in
describing the dry-point _Jo_ as a portrait of Whistler's brother.

Whistler, left homeless by his bankruptcy, revived the plan for the
journey to Venice, and a series of etchings there. He suggested
it to Ernest G. Brown, Messrs. Seeley's representative when the
_Billingsgate_ was published in the _Portfolio_, and now with the Fine
Art Society who, at his persuasion, had brought out four of the London
plates this year: _Free-Trade Wharf_, _Old Battersea Bridge_, _Old
Putney Bridge_, and _The Little Putney, No. 1_. They liked the new
scheme so well that they gave Whistler a commission for twelve plates
in Venice to be delivered in three months' time. One hundred proofs
of each were to be printed, and he was to receive, we believe, twelve
hundred pounds.

By September 7 (1879), Whistler apparently in great spirits, though
"everything was to be sold up," was "arranging his route to Venice"
says Mr. Cole. From the receiver he had permission to destroy
unfinished work. Copperplates were scratched and pictures smeared with
glue, stripped off their stretchers and rolled up. Then he packed his
trunk, wrote over his front door: "Except the Lord build the house,
they labour in vain that build it. E. W. Godwin, F.S.A., built this
one," and started for Venice.

The White House was sold on September 18, 1879, to Mr. Harry Quilter,
who paid for it two thousand seven hundred pounds in money at the time,
and later in Whistler's jeers. The public laughed at the furniture
and effects, "at which even a broker's man would turn up his nose. If
ever the seamy side of a fashionable artist's existence was shown, it
was during that auction in Chelsea.... Truly, if Ruskin had wished to
have his revenge, he might have enjoyed it at the White House, when
his prosecutor's specially built-to-order abode was characterised as
a disgrace to the neighbourhood by Philistinic spectators, and its
contents supplied material for the rude jokes of Hebrew brokers and the
special correspondent of the _Echo_."

"Two wooden spoons, a rusty knife handle and two empty oil tins,"
was one of the lots. Rolls of canvases were carried off for a few
shillings. Out of them came a _Valparaiso_, a _Cremorne Gardens_, the
portrait of Sir Henry Cole, a _White Girl_ and a _Blue Girl_, the
portrait of Miss Florence Leyland, in such a condition that nothing
now remains but the two blue pots of flowers on either side. The
_Cremorne Gardens_, a few years after Whistler's death, was sold by T.
R. Way for twelve hundred pounds to Mr. A. H. Hannay. Then an effort
was made to sell it, through London dealers, for almost four times
the price to the Melbourne Gallery, where there were no Whistlers and
where, therefore, those who had Whistler's interests at heart thought
it would not represent him worthily. Later on the painting was sold to
the Metropolitan Museum, New York. It was first cleaned by T. R. Way,
and when we saw it and had it photographed for the earlier edition of
this book, it contained portraits of both Leyland and Whistler. It has
since been cleaned again and the portraits have completely disappeared.
Whether the Metropolitan is responsible for the vandalism we do not
know. But we do know that it is this way history is wiped from the face
of the earth by the restorer. Thomas Way, at the sale, bought _The
Lobsters_ and _Mount Ararat_. Other pictures went astray or disappeared
temporarily, for a few intelligent people were at the sale. Whistler
wrote to Mrs. William Whistler from Venice begging her to trace and
find them, which she was unable to do. But they are turning up now.

Whistler's china, prints, and a few pictures were reserved for a sale
at Sotheby's, on Thursday, February 12, 1880. The title-page of the
catalogue is: "_In Liquidation. By order of the Trustees of J. A. McN.
Whistler. Catalogue of the Decorative Porcelain, Cabinets, Paintings
and other Works of Art of J. A. McN. Whistler. Received from the White
House, Fulham, comprising Numerous Pieces of Blue and White China; the
Painting in Oil of_ Connie Gilchrist, Dancing with a Skipping-Rope,
_styled_ A Girl in Gold, _by Whistler; A Satirical painting of a
Gentleman, styled_ The Creditor, _by Whistler. Crayon Drawings and
Etchings, Cabinets, and Miscellaneous Articles_." When Leyland learned
that the _Gold Scab--The Creditor_, was in the sale he did his best to
have it removed. Dealers and amateurs were there: Way, Oscar Wilde,
Huish, The Fine Art Society, Dowdeswell, Lord Redesdale, Deschamps,
Wickham Flower, and Howell were purchasers. Howell secured the Japanese
screen, the background of the _Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine_. The
Japanese bath fell to Mr. Jarvis. _The Creditor_ was bought by Messrs.
Dowdeswell for twelve guineas, vanished, turned up in the King's Road,
Chelsea, years later, and was purchased by Mr. G. P. Jacomb-Hood for
ten pounds, and is now in the collection of Mrs. Spreckles in San
Francisco. It is one of the documents Mr. Freer should have--and could
have had--as he should have the _Whistler_ with the brushes, the _Mrs.
Leyland_, the _Dr. Whistler_, and others which would add enormously to
the historic value as well as artistic completeness of his collection.
_Connie Gilchrist_ was sold to Mr. Wilkinson for fifty guineas.
Whistler's bust by Boehm was bought by Way for six guineas. A crayon
sketch, catalogued as a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, was knocked down
for five guineas to Oscar Wilde, who asked her to sign it, which she
did, writing that it was very like her. It might have been handed down
as her portrait, had it not appeared at Oscar Wilde's sale, and found
its way back to Whistler, who declared that Madame Bernhardt never sat
to him. The sale at Sotheby's realised three hundred and twenty-eight
pounds, nineteen shillings.



CHAPTER XXI: VENICE. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-NINE AND EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY.


For years Whistler wanted to go to Venice. When he got there he found
it a difficult place to work in. It was cold, and he felt the cold. It
is almost impossible to hold a copper-plate or a needle with numbed
fingers, and Venice in ice made him long for London in fog. He would
gladly have exchanged the Square of St. Mark's for Piccadilly, a
gondola for a hansom. Even Ruskin says this.

Affairs in London worried him. He wrote for news of the vanished
pictures. He knew that his letters had got into second-hand
bookshops--even letters to his mother. He was ill and the Doctor was
far away.

Venice he thought beautiful, most beautiful after rain when, he wrote
his mother, the colour and reflections were gorgeous. The Venetian
masters interested him. At the Scuola di San Rocco he is remembered
climbing up for a closer look at the Tintorettos. Veronese and Titian
were great swells; Canaletto and Guardi, great masters. He went to St.
Mark's for Mass at Christmas, though he wrote that the ceiling of The
Peacock Room was more splendid than the dome. But, as he told Fantin
years before, it was a waste of time to search for new subjects, and
all subjects were new to him in Venice. Countess Rucellai (Miss Edith
Bronson) writes that "he used to say Venice was an impossible place
to sit down and sketch, 'there was something still better round the
corner.'"

Mr. Henry Woods says: "He wandered for motives, but no matter how much
he wandered, and appeared to loaf, when he found a subject he worked
with a determination that no cold and cheerlessness could daunt. I
remember his energy--and suffering--when doing those beautiful pastels,
nearly all done during the coldest winter I have known in Venice, and
mostly towards evening when the cold was bitterest! He soon found out
the beautiful quality of colour there is here before sunset in winter.
He had a strong constitution. He was only unwell once with a bad cold."

The Fine Art Society asked him to make twelve plates in three months.
The plates were not started for weeks, and the Fine Art Society
demanded what he was doing. The answer was at first silence and then
a request for more money. The Fine Art Society began to doubt and
Whistler was furious. Then reports came that he was doing enormous
plates they had not ordered. Howell and others said that Whistler would
never come back, and Academicians laughed at the idea of the Society
getting either plates or their money from such a "charlatan." With each
new suggestion of doubt, Whistler's fury grew. "Amazing their letters
and mine, but, perhaps, not for the public." The delay was his care.
Even Frank Duveneck, most procrastinating of mortals, made his Venetian
etchings, and Otto Bacher changed his style and did his Venetian
plates, before Whistler found his subjects.

It amused him to tell the American Consul that idleness is the virtue
of the artist, but it was a virtue he denied himself. It was "the same
old story" he wrote his mother, "I am at my work the first thing at
dawn and the last thing at night." He could not stand the Venetian
crowd, and he worked as much as possible out of windows. He did little
from gondola or sandolo. To the tourist, a gondola is a thing of joy;
to the worker, it is a terrible, unstable studio, and even in the old
days it cost a hundred francs a month, but then, the gondolier was your
slave.

He mostly left the monuments of Venice, as of London, alone. In London
he preferred Battersea and Wapping to Westminster and St. Paul's; in
Venice little canals and _calli_, doorways and gardens, beggars and
bridges made a stronger appeal to him than churches and palaces. He
deliberately avoided the motives of Guardi and Canaletto. To reproduce
the masterpieces of the masters is, he said, an impertinence, and he
found for himself "a Venice in Venice."

Whistler, Mr. Howard Walker tells us, took a room in the Palazzo
Rezzonico, where he would paint the sunset and then swear at the sun
for setting. We know of no work done from the palace, though _The
Palaces_ which he etched are on the opposite side of the Grand Canal.
Mr. Ross Turner remembers that he found Whistler in a small house with
a small garden in front near the Frari, no doubt "the quarters" of
which Otto Bacher speaks, and Mr. Turner remembers, too, that canvases
were hanging on the wall, and a large one, with a big gondolier
sketched on it, stood by the door. He was living then in the Rio San
Barnaba, and there Maud came to join him. She could tell the whole
story, but she will not.

Bacher says Whistler wore a "large, wide-brimmed, soft, brown hat
tilted far back, suggesting a brown halo. It was a background for his
curly black hair and singular white lock.... A dark sack-coat almost
covered an extremely low turned-down collar, while a narrow black
ribbon did service as a tie, the long, pennant-like ends of which,
flapping about, now and then hit his single eye-glass."

Bacher describes him in evening dress without a tie, and Mr. Forbes
recalls his coming without one to the Bronson's, and Bronson saying it
was sad to see artists so poor that they could not afford a necktie.
Bacher also quotes Whistler as always substituting "Whistler" for "I"
in his talk, which we never knew him to do and it seems little like him.

Several of Duveneck's pupils followed on from Florence in 1880, and
they lived in the Casa Jankovitz, the house that juts out squarely at
the lower end of the Riva degli Schiavoni, all Venice in front of it.
Whistler was enchanted with the place when he went to see them, and
moved there. He had one room, the windows looking over the Lagoon, and
from them the etchings and pastels of the Riva and the Lagoon were
made. Many things are told of this room, of plates bitten on the top of
the bureau, the acid running down, and the scramble to save his shirts
in the drawers beneath. Other stories are of the printing-press on
which Canaletto's plates may have been pulled and many of Duveneck's
and Bacher's were; the press which used to work up to a certain point
and then go with such a rush that it had to be stopped, for fear the
bed would come out on the floor.

There was a large colony of foreign artists and art lovers and a club,
English in name, really cosmopolitan, in Venice, where Whistler met
Rico, Wolkoff, Van Haanen, Tito, Blaas, if he had not already met them
on the Piazza. Alexander, Rolshoven, De Camp, and Bacher were with
Duveneck. Harper Pennington came in the autumn, and Scott, Ross Turner,
Blum, Woods, Bunney, Jobbins, and Logsdail were amongst the other men
he knew. The American Consul Grist, and the Vice-Consul Graham, were
persons of importance, and the United States Consulate a meeting-place.
Mrs. Bronson lived in Casa Alvisi, the Brownings and the Curtises had
houses in Venice, and with all three families Whistler became intimate.
Londoners turned up. Harry Quilter told of one encounter:

"In the spring of 1880 I spent a few weeks in Venice. I had been
drawing for about five days, in one of the back canals, a specially
beautiful doorway, when one morning I heard a sort of war-whoop, and
there was Whistler, in a gondola, close by, shouting out as nearly
as I can remember: 'Hi, hi! What! What! Here, I say, you've got my
doorway!' 'Your doorway? Confound your doorway!' I replied. 'It's my
doorway, I've been here for the last week.' 'I don't care a straw, I
found it out first. I got that grating put up.' 'Very much obliged to
you, I'm sure; it's very nice. It was very good of you.' And so for a
few minutes we wrangled, but seeing that the canal was very narrow, and
that there was no room for two gondolas to be moored in front of the
chosen spot, mine being already tied up exactly opposite, I asked him
if he would not come and work in my gondola. He did so, and, I am bound
to say, turned the tables on me cleverly. For, pretending not to know
who I was, he described me to myself, and recounted the iniquities of
the art critic of the _Times_, one ''Arry Quilter.'"

Everybody says Whistler was penniless in Venice, always borrowing, why,
we do not know, unless the money went to pay for things in London. But
there were dinners and Sunday breakfasts. Many were given in a little
open-air _trattoria_, near the Via Garibaldi. The Panada, the noisiest
of noisy restaurants, was one of his haunts, and there was another
opposite the old post-office. The food, "nothing but fowl," he wrote,
tired him so that he surprised himself by spending a fortune on tea,
and carrying home strange pieces of fat, which he tried to fry into
resemblance of the slices of bacon served by Mrs. Cossens, his Chelsea
housekeeper. Mr. Scott says:

"If Whistler could not lay a table, he knew how to turn out tasty
little dishes over a spirit-lamp; and it was not long before the
inevitable Sunday breakfasts were instituted in that little room.
_Polenta à l' Américaine_, which he had induced the landlady to prepare
under his direction, we used to eat with such sort of treacle, alias
golden syrup, as could be obtained. Fish was cheaper and more plentiful
then than now in the Water City, and the lanky serving-women could
fry with the best of the famous Ciozzotte. The 'thin red wine' of the
country, in large flasks at about sixpence a quart, was plentiful, and
these simple things, with the accompanying 'flow of soul' made a feast
for the gods. There was no room for many guests at one time, but Henry
Woods, Ruben, W. Graham, Butler, and Roussoff were often with us."

Days were spent on the Lido, and, doubtless he went to Chioggia,
Murano, Burano, and Torcello. These little journeys were more costly
and difficult then than now, and there are no plates except of the
_Lido_ and the _Murano Glass-Furnace_, and no pastels except one or two
on the Lido.

Whistler loved the nights at the never-closed clubs in the Piazza,
Florian's and the Quadri, or the Orientale on the Riva, where the
coffee was just as good and two _centessimi_ cheaper. Around these
nights endless legends are growing, and like all the legends, they
are such a part of Whistler they cannot be ignored. No one delighted
in them more than he, no one ever told them so well. They became the
favourite yarns of Duveneck's boys, to which we listened many an
evening when we came to Venice four years later. It was then we first
heard of Wolkoff, or Roussoff as he is known in Bond Street, and his
boast that he could make pastels like Whistler's and the Americans'
bet of a champagne dinner that he couldn't, and the evening in the
Casa Jankovitz, when Rico, Duveneck, Curtis, Bacher, Woods, and Van
Haanen recognised Wolkoff's work and every time one of his pastels
was produced cried: "Take it away!" The Russian said to Whistler
after dinner: "You know, you scratch a Russian, and you find a
Tartar!" "Ha ha!" said Whistler, "I've scratched an artist and found
an ama-Tartah!" Another story was of the tiny glass figure, or maybe
a little black baby from the shrine of St. Anthony at Padua, dropped
into Whistler's glass of water at the _café_, where it looked like a
little devil bobbing up and down, so that Whistler, when he saw it,
thought something was wrong with his eyes, and sipped the water and
shook the glass, and the more he sipped and shook the more the little
devil danced, and finally he upset the glass over everybody, and the
little demon fell in his lap. And there was another of the night when
a _barca_, with a transparency showing Nocturnes and a band playing
"Yankee-Doodle," moved up and down the Grand Canal and along the Riva,
never stopping until it was greeted with a loud "Ha ha!" from the
darkness. And we heard of the day when Whistler, seeing Bunney on a
scaffold struggling with St. Mark's, his life-work for Ruskin, fastened
a card, "I am totally blind," to his coat-tail. And we were told of
the hot noon when Whistler, leaning out of his window, discovering a
bowl of goldfish below on the window-ledge of his landlady, against
whom he had a grudge, let down a fishing-line, caught the fish, fried
them, dropped them back into the bowl, and watched the return of their
owner, who was sure her fish had been fried by the sun. And the story
of Blum and Whistler, without a _schei_, crossing the Academy Bridge,
Blum sticking in his eye a little watch with a split second-hand that
went round so fast the keeper thought he had the evil eye, and they got
over without paying; or of the boys' farewell _fête_ to Whistler in
August when it was rumoured he was going, and in a coal barge, which
Bacher transforms into a "fairy-like floating bower festooned with the
wealth of autumn," a feast of melons and salads and Chianti was spread
and eaten as they drifted up the Grand Canal with the tide, the lights
of their lanterns bringing everyone to stare, until the rain drove them
under the Rialto, where they spent the rest of the night, and then
Whistler didn't go after all. When Whistler left they say he asked the
authors of these adventures up to his room and showed them a number
of prints, and said, "Now, you boys have been very good to me all
this time and I want to do something for you," and he turned over his
prints carefully, and said, "I have thought it out," and he took one,
a spoiled one, and he counted their heads, and he cut it into as many
pieces as there were people, and presented a fragment to each, and as
they marched downstairs all they heard was "Ha ha!" These, and hundreds
like them, are the legends you hear on the Piazza.

Two friends of the Venetian days, Mr. Harper Pennington and Mr. Ralph
Curtis, have sent us their impressions. Mr. Harper Pennington writes
us: "He gave me many lessons there in Venice. He would hook his arm in
mine and take me off to look at some Nocturne that he was studying or
memorising, and then he would show me how he went about to paint it--in
the daytime. He let me--invited me, indeed, to stand at his elbow as
he set down in colour some effect he loved from the natural things in
front of us. What became of many such--small canvases, all of them--I
do not know. _The St. George Nocturne_, Canfield has. Who owns _The
Façade of San Marco_?[9]

"There was an upright sunset, too, looking from my little terrace on
the Riva degli Schiavoni over towards San Giorgio, and others that I
saw him work on in 1880."

Mr. Curtis gives us other details: "Shortly before his return to
England with some of the etchings and the pastels, he gave his friends
a tea-dinner. As seeing the best of his Venetian work was the real
feast, the hour for the _hors d'oeuvre_, consisting of sardines,
hard-boiled eggs, fruit, cigarettes, and excellent coffee prepared
by the ever-admirable Maud, was arranged for six o'clock. Effective
pauses succeeded the presentation of each masterpiece. During these
_entr'actes_ Whistler amused his guests with witty conjectures as to
the verdict of the grave critics in London on 'these things.' One of
his favourite types for sarcasm used to be the eminently respectable
Londoner who is '_always_ called at 8.30, closed-shaved at a quarter
to 9, and in the City at 10.' 'What will he make of _this_? Serve him
right too! Ha ha!'

"Whistler was a constant and ever-welcome guest at Casa Alvisi, the
hospitable house of Mrs. Bronson, whom he often called _Santa Cattarina
Seconda_. During happy years, from lunch till long past bedtime, her
house was the open rendezvous for the rich and poor, the famous and the
famished, _les rois en exil_ and the heirs-presumptive to the thrones
of fame. Whistler there had his place, and he held the floor. One night
a curious contrast was the great and genial Robert Browning commenting
on the projected form of a famous 'Jimmy letter' to the _World_.

"Very late, on hot _scirocco_ nights, long after the concert crowd had
dispersed, one little knot of men might often been seen in the deserted
Piazza, sipping refreshment in front of Florian's. You might be sure
that was Whistler in white duck, praising France, abusing England, and
thoroughly enjoying Italy. He was telling how he had seen painting
in Paris revolutionised by innovators of powerful handling: Manet,
Courbet, Vollon, Regnault, Carolus Duran. He felt far more enthusiasm
for the then recently resuscitated popularity of Velasquez and Hals.

"The _ars celare artem_ of Terborgh and Vermeer always delighted
him--the mysterious technique, the discreet distinction of execution,
the 'one skin all over it,' of the minor masters of Holland was one
of his eloquent themes. To Whistler it was a treat when a Frenchman
arrived in Venice. If he could not like his paint, he certainly enjoyed
his language. French seemed to give him extra exhilaration. From
beginning to end he owed much to the French for first recognising what
he had learned from Japan."

[Footnote 9: Mr. J. J. Cowan was for some years the owner, and he sold
it to the French Gallery.]



CHAPTER XXII: VENICE. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN SEVENTY-NINE AND EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY CONTINUED.


Nothing in Whistler's life is more astonishing than the praise and
blame raised by the Venetian pastels on their exhibition in London.
Artists fought over them. To some, they were original, they gave the
character of Venice; to others, they were cheap, anybody could do
them. Both were wrong, as both always were. "Anybody" cannot do them;
he had been making pastels: the subject, not the method, was new. Had
some of the combatants visited the Academy at Venice, they might have
discovered his inspiration in the drawings of the Old Masters, where
he had found it years before at the Louvre. He was only carrying on
tradition.

Whistler used coloured paper for the pastels because it gave him,
without any work, the foundation of his colour-scheme in the simplest
manner, and because he could work straight away on it, and not ruin
the surface and tire himself getting the tone. Bacher describes him in
his gondola laden with pastels. But his materials were so few that he
could wander on foot in the narrow streets, the best way to work as
everyone who has worked in Venice knows. For it is difficult to find
again a place, and impossible to see again the effect, that fascinated
you. He carried only a little portfolio or drawing-board, some sheets
of tinted paper, black chalk, half a dozen pastels, and varnished
or silver-coated paper to cover the drawing when finished. Once he
found what he wanted, he made a sketch in black chalk and then with
pastel hinted the colour of the walls, the shutters, the spots of the
women's dresses, putting in the colour as in mosaic or stained glass
between the black lines, never painting, but noting the right touch
in the right place, keeping the colour pure. It looked so easy, "only
the doing it was the difficulty," he would say. When he finished the
drawings he showed them. Mr. Scott recalls that "the latest pastels
used to be brought out for inspection. Whistler would always show his
sketches in his own way or not at all. In the absence of a proper easel
and a proper light, they were usually laid on the floor."

[Illustration: WHISTLER IN HIS STUDIO

OIL

In the Chicago Art Institute

(_See page 130_)]

[Illustration: MAUD STANDING

ETCHING. G. 114

(_See page 125_)]

The "painter fellows" were startled by their brilliancy, Whistler told
his mother, and he thought rather well of them himself.

The pastels have been praised with the inconsequence characteristic of
so much praise of his work. The drawing often is either not good in
itself or so slight as to be of little importance. The beauty is in the
suggestion of colour or the arrangement of line. Though he passed the
spring, summer, winter, and part of two autumns in the city there is
no attempt, save in a few sunsets, to give atmospheric effect, or the
season, or the time of year. What he saw that pastel would do, what he
made it do, was to record certain lines and to suggest certain colours.
Critics and artists, having never studied pastel, were unaware of what
had been done with it. The revival did not come for some years after
Whistler showed his Venetian series, when there was a "boom" all over
the world, and pastel societies were started, most of which have since
collapsed.

The "boom" in etching commenced years before Whistler went to Venice.
There were standards: Whistler had already accomplished great things,
after a formula laid down by Dürer, Rembrandt, and Hollar. Therefore,
when he made etchings which struck the uncritical, and even those who
cared, as something new, the uncritical were shocked because their
preconceived notions were upset, and those who cared were astonished.
The difference between the Venetian and the London plates was so great
that the two series might be attributed to two men. This was due
partly to the difference between London and Venice seen by an artist
sensitive to the character of places, but more to the difference of
technique between the earlier and the later plates. Not so many years
ago, talking to him about this subject, we said that the Venetian
plates seemed to be done in a new way. It so happened that the _Adam
and Eve--Old Chelsea_ and _The Traghetto_ were, as they are now,
hanging almost side by side on our walls. In five minutes he proved
that one was the outgrowth of the other, and that there was a natural
development from the beginning of his work. Until the London Memorial
Exhibition it was impossible to trace this, because the prints had
never been hung together chronologically, not even at the Grolier Club,
in New York, where, for want of space, two separate shows were made.
Before Whistler exhibited his Venetian plates most people knew nothing
but the French Set and the Thames Set. The intermediate stages had not
been followed, and the Venetian plates seemed a new thing. But the
difference between them and the Thames series is one of development.
Whistler always spoke of the _Black Lion Wharf_ as boyish, though it
is impossible to conceive of anything of its kind more complete. His
estimate has been accepted by many. Mr. Bernhard Sickert, in writing
of it, thinks it misleading to say that every tile, every beam has
been drawn. "These details are merely filled in with a certain number
of strokes of a certain shape, accepted as indicating the materials
of which they are constructed." When an etching is in pure line and
owes little to the printer, as in this case, it is the wonderful
arrangement of lines, the wonderful lines themselves, which make you
feel that everything, every beam and every tile, has been drawn; that
every detail actually has been drawn we did not suppose anybody would
be so absurd as to imagine. The character of the lines gives you this
impression, which is exactly what the artist wanted, and this is what
proved Whistler an impressionist. Another critic has said that Whistler
exhausted all his blacks on the houses. He did nothing of the sort. He
concentrated them there, and did not take away from the interest of the
wharf he was drawing by an equal elaboration in the boats, the barges,
and the figures. As he learned more he gave up his literal, definite
method. Instead of drawing the panes of a window in firm outline, he
suggested them by drawing the shadows and the reflected lights with
short strokes, and scarcely any outline. In the London plates he
got the effect on his buildings by different bitings. In Venice he
suggested the shadows. In both, the figures in movement are nearly
the same, but there is a great advance in the drawing in the Venice
plates, where they give the feeling of life. In the _Millbank_ and the
_Lagoon_, the subjects, or the dominating lines in the subjects, are
the same, a series of posts carrying the eye from the foreground to
the extreme distance, but their treatment in the Venetian plate, as
well as the drawing of the figures, is more expressive. Simplicity
of expression has never been carried further. Probably the finest
plate, in its simplicity and directness, is _The Bridge_. Whistler now
obtained the quality of richness by suggesting detail, and also by
printing. In _The Traghetto_ there is the same scheme as in _The Miser_
and _The Kitchen_, but the Venice plate is more painter-like. Without
taking away from the etched line he has given a fullness of tone which
makes the background of _The Burgomaster Six_ weak in comparison. And
he knew this.

He was doing his own printing for the first time to any extent. There
were a hundred prints of the first Venice Set. All were not pulled
by him, and the difference between his printing and Goulding's, done
after his death, is unmistakable. In the hand of any professional
printer plates like _The Traghetto_ and _The Beggars_ would be a
mass of scratches, though scratches of interest to the artist; it
required Whistler's printing to bring out what he wanted. And it is
the more surprising that he could print in Venice, so primitive was
the press. Bacher had a portable press, but most was done on the old
press. Whistler protested against the professional printer, his pot of
treacle and his couches of ink. But no great artist ever carried the
printing of etchings so far or made such use of printer's ink as he did
in these plates. Without the wash of ink, they would be ghosts, and
he was justified in printing as he wanted to get what he wished. And
he used ink in all sorts of ways on the same plate, he tried endless
experiments with ever-varying results, even to cover up the weak lines
of an indifferent design, as in _Nocturne--Palaces_, prized highly by
collectors, but one of his poorest Venice plates. It, and _The Garden_,
_Nocturne--Shipping_, and one or two besides are by no means equal to
the others in line, though some of his prints of these are superb. But
there are no such perfect plates in the world as _The Beggars_, _The
Traghetto_, the two _Rivas_, _The Bridge_, and _Rialto_.

While printing Whistler continually worked on his plates, and instead
of there being--as the authorities say--half a dozen states there are
a hundred; only the authorities cannot see. A curious fact about _The
Traghetto_ is that there were two plates. He was displeased with the
first and etched it again. Bacher writes that _The Traghetto_ "troubled
him very much." He pulled one fine proof and then overworked the plate
so that he had to make a second. He got copper of the same size and
thickness made by the Venetian from whom they had their plates. When
this was ready, the first plate was inked with white paint instead of
black ink. This was placed on the second varnished plate, and they
were then run through the press. The result was "a replica in white
upon the black etching ground." Bacher says that on the new plate
Whistler worked for days and weeks with the first proof before him,
that he might find and etch only the original lines. When the second
was printed Whistler placed the two proofs side by side and minutely
compared them. And he was pleased, for the examination ended in the one
song he allowed himself in Venice:

"_We don't want to fight,
But, by jingo! if we do,
We've got the ships,
We've got the men,
And got the money too-oo-oo!_"

The early proofs of others plates were unsatisfactory. Each proof was a
trial, and, as each was pulled, he worked upon the plate, not generally
taking out large slabs or putting in new passages to make a new state
of it, but strengthening lines or lightening them, giving richness to
a shadow or modelling to a little figure. It would be impossible, if
the hundred proofs of each of these Venetian plates were not shown
together, to say how much he did or what he did to each, but the first
proof is quite different from the last and no two are alike. Some of
them, from ghosts, became solid facts.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF SIR HENRY IRVING AS PHILIP II OF SPAIN

ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK. NO. III

OIL

In the Metropolitan Museum, New York

(_See page 144_)]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF SIR HENRY COLE

OIL (DESTROYED)

From a photograph lent by Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

(_See page 145_)]

In his Venice etchings Whistler also developed what he called the
Japanese method of drawing, Bacher calls his secret, and Mr. Menpes
the secret of drawing. Whistler always spoke frankly about it to us,
from the first time J. saw him etching, and he followed the same
method in his lithographs. In etching or lithography it is difficult
to make corrections, the surface of the plate or the stone should not
be disturbed, it is not easy, by the ordinary manner in which drawing
is taught, to put a complicated design on the plate without elaborate
spacing, tracing, or a preliminary sketch. Frequently, when the design
is half made in the usual fashion, the artist finds that the point of
greatest interest, the subject of his picture, will not come on the
plate where he wants it. The Japanese always seem to get the design
in their colour-prints in the right place, and yet their technique
adds to the difficulty of changing or altering a design, especially in
their wood blocks. But whether this is because they have the method
of drawing Whistler attributed to them, whether he got his idea from
their completed prints or evolved it, we do not know. We do know that
the idea was his long before he painted the Japanese pictures. You
can see the beginning of it in the _Isle de la Cité_. The system,
scientific as all his systems were, is to select the exact spot on
the canvas, the lithographic stone, the copper plate, or the piece of
paper, where the focus of interest is to be, and to draw this part of
the subject first. It might be near the side of a plate, though he
insisted that the composition should be placed well within the frame
or on the plate, contrary as such treatment is to Japanese methods
and his early practice. In the early paintings, sprays of flowers or
branches of trees run into the picture to give the impression that
it is carried beyond the frame, as the Japanese do. But his theory,
perfected before the Venetian period and adhered to as long as he
lived, was that everything should be well within the frame or plate
mark, as far within as the subject was from him. Having selected the
point of interest, he drew that, and drew it completely, and there, on
his canvas, plate, or stone, was a picture. It might be a distant view
of palaces or shipping beneath a bridge; in London, a shop window; in
Paris, a dark doorway; in portraits, the sitter's head. Once he put it
down, he drew in the objects next in importance, all the while carrying
out the work completely and making one harmonious whole. The result was
that the picture was finished--"finished from the beginning"--and there
was on the plate, paper, or stone a space which he could fill with less
important details or leave as he chose. With his painting it was a
different problem. When the subject was arranged, it grew together all
over, at the same time. In some of the earlier pictures, _Old Battersea
Bridge_ for example, a piece of canvas seems to have been added, though
he maintained that the artist should confine himself to the size of
the canvas he selected, and not get over his blunders, as many do, by
adding to or taking from the canvas. All this requires the greatest
care in just what Whistler considered most important, the placing of
the subject. Working in this manner, always with the completed picture
in his mind, he could return again, add further work if he thought
it was needed, knowing he had his subject drawn. It sounds simple,
so simple that one day, when he had been explaining it to Mr. E. A.
Walton, and the latter said, "But there is no secret!" Whistler's
answer was, "Yes, the secret is in doing it." It is just this, "in
doing it," that the excellence of his work lies. As a matter of fact
the difficulty is restraint in drawing the heart of a subject, while in
painting still more restraint is necessary, the restraint imposed by
colour and the medium.

Besides etchings and pastels Whistler made water-colours in Venice, but
as they were never shown together it is impossible to say how many.
There were also a few oils. The most important is _Nocturne, Blue and
Gold, St. Mark's_. Bacher speaks of one from the windows of the Casa
Jankovitz, "the Salute and a great deal of sky and water, with the
buildings very small," and of a scene at night from a _café_ near the
Royal Gardens. Then there is the upright sunset from the Riva referred
to by Mr. Pennington, and two others painted from Mr. Ross Turner's
terrace, one looking down the Riva to San Biagio, the other up to San
Marco, both full of little figures, and with boats and a suggestion of
the Lagoon, in the background; studies left hanging in sunlight after
he had done one day's work until he came to do the next. Mr. Forbes
recalls a _Nocturne of the Giudecca_, with shipping, on a panel, which
Whistler gave to Jobbins, who, as he told us, thought so little of
it that he painted a sketch on the back and then sold it to Forbes,
who still has it. Canfield was said to have another of S. Giorgio.
Doubtless there are more, but we know of none that were exhibited.



CHAPTER XXIII: BACK IN LONDON. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY AND EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY-ONE.


At the end of November 1880 Whistler was back in London. "Years of
battle," M. Duret calls the period that followed, and Whistler was
ready to fight.

He arrived when the Fine Art Society had a show of "Twelve Great
Etchers," a press was in the gallery, Goulding was printing, etching
was upon the town.

"Well, you know, I was just home; nobody had seen me, and I drove up
in a hansom. Nobody expected me. In one hand I held my long cane; with
the other I led by a ribbon a beautiful little white Pomeranian dog;
it too had turned up suddenly. As I walked in I spoke to no one, but
putting up my glass I looked at the prints on the wall. 'Dear me! dear
me!' I said, 'still the same old sad work! Dear me!' And Haden was
there, talking hard to Brown, and laying down the law, and as he said
'Rembrandt,' I said 'Ha ha!' and he vanished, and then----!"

He was without house or studio, and stopped in Wimpole Street with
his brother until he took lodgings in Langham Street and then in
Alderney Street. (The record of this is in the etching published in
the _Gazette des Beaux-Arts_, April 1881.) He set to work printing the
plates, for few had been pulled in Venice. The Fine Art Society moved
Goulding's press upstairs and friends came to see him, and here Mr.
Mortimer Menpes says he first met Whistler, and, dropping Poynter,
South Kensington, and his ambition, threw himself at the feet of "the
Master" and called himself pupil. It was not an ideal workshop, and
the Fine Art Society took two rooms for Whistler in Air Street, Regent
Street, on the first floor, with a bow window under the colonnade, now
the Piccadilly Hotel: the window from which he etched the plate of the
Quadrant.

T. Way and his son came to Air Street to help Whistler print. The press
was in the front room, and T. R. Way made a sketch of it in colour, his
father damping paper, Whistler inking a plate, the press between them:
an interesting document. The work was interrupted by excitement. One
day Whistler placed on the heater a bottle of acid tightly stopped up.
The stopper blew out, steaming acid fumes filled the room, and they ran
for their lives. Another time, they took caustic potash, or something
as deadly, to get the dried ink out of the lines of the plates, and
they dropped the bottle on the floor, and there was not much left of
the carpet. Why anything was left of the floor or of them is a mystery.
Then, Mr. Menpes says:

"Whistler drifted into a room in my house, which I had fitted up with
printing materials, and it was in this little printing-room of mine
that most of the series of Venetian etchings were printed."

The edition of a hundred sets was, however, not completed during
Whistler's lifetime. It was only after his death that Goulding finished
the work.

The first series of twelve Venetian plates was shown in December 1880
at the Fine Art Society's. The _Twelve_ were selected from the forty
plates Whistler brought back. The critics could see nothing in them.
They were dismissed as "another crop of Whistler's little jokes." One
after another the people's authorities repeated the Attorney-General's
decision that Whistler was amusing, and Burne-Jones' regret that he had
not fulfilled his early promise, and Whistler collected the criticisms
for future use.

Brown, of the Fine Art Society, took to New York a set of the proofs.
Whistler spent a Sunday pulling them. But the etchings were no more
appreciated in New York than in London. Only eight sets were ordered.

In the meanwhile Whistler was preparing his exhibition of pastels. Mr.
Cole notes in his diary:

"_January 2_ (1881). Jimmy called, as self-reliant and sure as ever,
full of confidence in the superlative merit of his pastels, which we
are to go and see."

This exhibition also was held at the Fine Art Society's. Whistler
designed the frames; he wrote the catalogue, which had the brown paper
cover, but not quite the form eventually adopted, and it was printed
by Way; he decorated the gallery, an arrangement in gold and brown,
which was enjoyed as another of his little jokes by the critics. Godwin
was one of the few who admitted the beauty, and his description in the
_British Architect_ (February 1881) is on record:

"First, a low skirting of yellow gold, then a high dado of dull
yellow-green cloth, then a moulding of green gold, and then a frieze
and ceiling of pale reddish brown. The frames are arranged on the line;
but here and there one is placed over another. Most of the frames and
mounts are of rich yellow gold, but a dozen out of the fifty-three are
in green gold, dotted about with a view of decoration, and eminently
successful in attaining it."

On the evening of the Press view Mr. Cole says:

"_January 28_ (1881). Whistler turned up for dinner very full of his
private view to-morrow. Later on, we concocted a letter inviting
Prince Teck to come to it. His last draft was all right, but he would
insist on beginning it 'Prince,' although I assured him 'Sir' was the
usual way of addressing him in a letter."

The private view (January 29) was a crush, Bond Street blocked with
carriages, the sidewalk crowded; nothing like it was ever known at
the Fine Art Society's. Millais, showing forgotten _machines_ in the
adjoining room, was one of the first to see the pastels. "Magnificent,
fine; very cheeky, but fine!" he bellowed, and afterwards said so to
Whistler, who was pleased. The crowd did not know what to say, and,
had they known, would have been afraid to say it. For Whistler was
there, his laugh louder, shriller than ever. He let no one forget
the trial. An admirer asked the price of a pastel: "Sixty guineas!
That's enormous!" Whistler heard, though he was not meant to; he heard
everything. "Ha ha! Enormous! Why, not at all! I can assure you it took
me quite half an hour to do it!"

People laughed at Whistler's work, because they thought they were
expected to. Because he was the gayest man they refused to see that he
was the most serious artist. When they laughed at his art, it hurt;
when they laughed at him, they suffered; and he had his revenge in
mystifying them:

"Well, you know, they thought it was an amiability to me for them to be
amused. One day, when I was on my way to the Fine Art Society's, while
the show was going on, I met Sir and Lady ---- face to face, at the
door, as they were coming out. Both looked very much bored, but they
couldn't escape me. So the old man grasped my hand and chuckled, 'We
have just been looking at your things, and have been so much amused!'
He had an idea that the drawings on the wall were drolleries of some
sort, though he could not understand why, and that it was his duty to
be amused. I laughed with him. I always did with people of that kind,
and then they said I was not serious."

The critics, too, laughed, but there was venom in their laughter.
They liked to take themselves, if they couldn't take Whistler,
seriously, and they hated work they could not understand. The pastels
were sensational, Whistler was clever with a sort of transatlantic
impudence. They objected to the brown paper, to the technique, to the
frames, to the decorations, to the subjects; they became unexpectedly
concerned for the past glory of Venice. Godwin, again, was an
exception "No one who has listened, as the writer of these notes has,
to Whistler's descriptions of the open-arcaded, winding staircase that
lifts its tall stem far into the blue sky, or of the façades, yet
unrestored, that speak of the power of the Venetian architect, can
doubt that he who can so remember and describe has failed to admire. It
is by reason of the strength of this admiration and appreciation that
he holds back in reverence, and exercises this reticence of the pencil,
the needle, and the brush."

A number of people showed their belief in the pastels by buying them,
and the exhibition was a success financially. The prices ranged from
twenty to sixty guineas, the total receipts amounted to eighteen
hundred pounds. Bacher quotes a letter written to him just after the
show opened signed "Maud Whistler": "The best of it is, all the pastels
are selling. Four hundred pounds' worth the first day; now over a
thousand pounds' worth are sold."

Before the show closed, at the end of January, Whistler was summoned
to Hastings. His mother had been there since her illness of 1876-77,
from which she never entirely recovered, though there were intervals
between the attacks when her family had no cause for anxiety. But her
death was sudden. Those who refused to see in Whistler any other good
quality could not deny his devotion to his mother; those to whom he
revealed the tenderness under the defiant masque with which he faced
the world knew what his love for her meant to him. She had lived with
him whenever it was possible. His visits and letters to Hastings had
been frequent. He never forgot her birthday. He told her of all his
success, all his hopes, and made as light as he could of his debts
and disappointments. But in the miserable week before the funeral at
Hastings he was full of remorse; he should have been kinder and more
considerate, he said; he had not written often enough from Venice. Dr.
Whistler was with him part of the time, and the Doctor's wife the rest.
In the afternoons they wandered on the windy cliffs above the town,
and there was one drear afternoon when he broke down: "It would have
been better had I been a parson as she wanted!" Yet he had nothing to
reproach himself with. The days in Chelsea were for her as happy as for
him, and she whose pride had been in his first childish promise at St.
Petersburg lived to see the development of his powers. She is buried at
Hastings.

It was fortunate that when he got back to town there were events to
distract his thoughts. The Society of Painter-Etchers opened their
first exhibition in April at the Hanover Gallery. American artists who
were just starting etching and had never shown prints in London were
invited. Frank Duveneck sent a series of Venetian proofs. This was the
occasion of "the storm in an æsthetic teapot," which, had not Whistler
thought it important as "history," would be forgotten. We quote, as he
did, from _The Cuckoo_ (April 11, 1881):

"Some etchings, exceedingly like Mr. Whistler's in manner, but signed
'Frank Duveneck,' were sent to the Painter-Etchers' Exhibition from
Venice. The Painter-Etchers appear to have suspected for a moment that
the works were really Mr. Whistler's, and, not desiring to be the
victims of an easy hoax on the part of that gentleman, three of their
members--Dr Seymour Haden, Dr. Hamilton, and Legros--went to the Fine
Art Society's Gallery in Bond Street, and asked one of the assistants
there to show them some of Mr. Whistler's Venetian plates. From this
assistant they learned that Mr. Whistler was under an arrangement to
exhibit and sell his Venetian etchings only at the Fine Art Society's
Gallery."

Whistler heard of this. He called on Mr. Cole, "highly incensed with
Haden and Legros conspiring to make out he was breaking his contract
with the Fine Art Society," and went at once to the Hanover Gallery,
Mr. Menpes with him. The three members fortunately were not there. Then
Haden wrote to the Fine Art Society that they had found out about Mr.
Duveneck and said they were delighted with his etchings, and expressed
regret. But it is incredible that Haden and Legros should have mistaken
the work of Duveneck for that of Whistler. The story was published by
Whistler in _The Piker Papers_. With its interest a little dulled by
time, the correspondence may be read in _The Gentle Art_.

Whistler had not forgotten the pictures left with Graves in Pall Mall.
By degrees he bought them back. When Mr. Algernon Graves consulted his
father about letting Whistler have the pictures upon which the full
amount was not paid, after Whistler had repaid a hundred pounds for
three, the father said, "Let him take the whole lot, and don't be a
fool; the pictures aren't worth twenty-five pounds apiece." The _Rosa
Corder_ was sold at Christie's with Howell's effects, Mr. Algernon
Graves agreeing that, if it brought more than Howell's debt to the
firm, Howell's executors could have the balance. The father maintained
the picture wouldn't fetch ten pounds, but it brought more than the
amount of their bill, some hundred and thirty pounds. The _Irving_ was
sold to Sir Henry for a hundred pounds--at Irving's sale it was bought
by Mr. Thomas of Philadelphia for five thousand guineas--and the _Miss
Franklin_ went to Messrs. Dowdeswell. Whistler continued to pay his
bills regularly as they came due, to Graves' astonishment; there was
only one exception, and then Whistler came to ask to have the payment
postponed, and this was not settled until long after the pictures were
in Whistler's possession. When Whistler paid the final instalment
Graves expressed his surprise. But Whistler said: "You have been a very
good friend to me; in fact, you have been my banker. You have acted
honourably to me in the whole matter. I meant to pay, and I have done
so."

These business details and his exhibitions left Whistler no time in
1881 for the _Salon_, where he had nothing, or for the Grosvenor, to
which he sent only _Miss Alexander_. In the autumn, borrowing the
_Mother_ from Graves, he lent it to the Academy in Philadelphia, the
arrangements being made by Mrs. Anna Lea Merritt, and this is her
account:

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF MISS ROSA CORDER

ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK AND BROWN

OIL

In the possession of H. C. Finch, Esq.

(_See page 146_)]

[Illustration: THE PEACOCK ROOM

Photograph of the room at Prince's Gate, showing the _Princesse du Pays
de la Porcelaine_ in place

(_See page 147_)]

"In the autumn of 1881 I was asked by the Pennsylvania Academy of
Fine Arts to receive pictures by American artists, and have them
forwarded for exhibition, and especially they entreated me to persuade
Mr. Whistler to send a picture. He had never been represented in
any American exhibition. I obtained a chance when meeting him at a
dinner of pressing the subject more vigorously than I could have
done by writing, and he promised to send his mother's portrait. It
was collected in due course and deposited in my studio, then in the
Avenue. Mr. Whistler came immediately after, and as the canvas was
breaking away from the stretcher, he directed the packing agents,
who were skilful frame-makers, to restrain it, and then left me. As
soon as the canvas was made tight, spots of crushed varnish appeared
on the surface. The varnish, in fact, broke or crumbled and I feared
the canvas might have broken. I flew down the street, overtook him,
and brought him back, dreading that he would blame us and even that
some injury had been done. To my surprise, he took the misfortune
with perfect composure and kindness, and stippled the spots with some
solvent varnish that soon restored the even surface. And there was
never a word of suggestion that we had done any harm. Of course, I knew
the fault was not in anything that had been done, and it was by his
own order, but from all I had heard about him I trembled. The greatest
difficulty in connection with that exhibition was to persuade him to
journey to the American Consulate in St. Helen's Place and make his
affidavit for the invoice. It had to be done by himself; and it was not
pleasant, as we know, to waste a day, the very middle of the day, in
this dull declaration of American citizen sojourning in England. After
the cases were ready for shipment there was still delay to get his task
accomplished, and I think the Pennsylvania Academy hardly guess how
much persuading it took. What a pity they did not secure the beautiful
picture for his own country! Now that it hangs in the Luxembourg, they
envy it."

The _Mother_ was exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy in 1881, and, on
the suggestion of Mr. Alden Weir, at the Society of American Artists in
New York in 1882, and it could have been bought for a thousand dollars.
Although nobody wanted it, it made him known in his own country as a
painter. He was elected a member of the Society of American Artists
that year.

At this time, owing to the visit of Seymour Haden to the United States,
American artists became interested in etching, and societies were
formed and exhibitions held all over the country. There was a show in
the Boston Museum in 1881. Another, the first of a series, was given
by the New York Etching Club in 1882. And the Philadelphia Society
of Etchers organised in the same year an International Exhibition at
the Academy of Fine Arts. Articles in _Scribner's_ on Whistler and
Haden and American Etchers added to the interest. Messrs. Cassell and
others issued portfolios of prints, and every painter became an etcher.
The result was a boom, then a slump, out of which Whistler and Haden
almost alone emerged, for the reason that their work was not done to
please the public or the publishers. We remember the excitement made
by Haden's lectures which prepared America for Whistler, whose prints
were in both the New York and Philadelphia Exhibitions. Mr. James L.
Claghorn, almost the only Philadelphian who then cared for etchings,
had already many Whistlers. Mr. Avery, in New York, had some years
before begun his collection and secured for it many of the rarest
proofs, and he was followed by Mr. Howard Mansfield, who later on
interested Mr. Charles L. Freer. But in America more had been heard
of Whistler's eccentricities than his work. It could no longer remain
unknown, once his etchings and the portrait of the _Mother_ were seen
and _The White Girl_ was lent to the Metropolitan Museum in New York,
where it hung for some time. And the young men who had been with him in
Venice, coming back, spread his fame at home, and when Americans got to
know his work they became the keenest to possess it. Even at this time
Avery owned the _Whistler in the Big Hat_, Mr. Whittemore _The White
Girl_, and Mrs. Hutton the _Wapping_. That an American artist's works
should be bought at all by Americans at that date was extraordinary.
Tadema, Bouguereau, Meyer von Bremen were the standard, soon, however,
to be exchanged for Whistler, the Impressionists, and the Dutch and
Barbizon Schools.



CHAPTER XXIV: THE JOY OF LIFE. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-ONE TO
EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-FOUR.


On May 26, 1881, Mr. Cole "met Jimmie, who is taking a new studio in
Tite Street, where he is going to paint all the fashionables; views of
crowds competing for sittings; carriages along the streets."

It was No. 13, close to the White House. Whistler decorated it in
yellow: one "felt in it as if standing inside an egg," Howell said.
He again picked up blue and white, and old silver; he again gave
Sunday breakfasts, and they again became the talk of the town and he
the fashion. If the town was determined to talk, Whistler was willing
it should. He was never so malicious, never so extravagant, never so
joyous. He wrapped himself "in a species of misunderstanding." He
filled the papers with letters. London echoed with his laugh. His white
lock stood up defiantly above his curls; his cane lengthened; a series
of collars sprang from his long overcoat; his hat had a curlier brim, a
lower tilt over his eyes; he invented amazing costumes: "in great form,
with a new fawn-coloured long-skirted frock-coat, and extraordinary
long cane," Mr. Cole found him one summer day in 1882. He was known
to pay calls with the long bamboo stick in his hand and pink bows on
his shoes. He allowed no break in the gossip. The carriages brought
crowds, but not sitters. Few would sit to him before the trial; after
it there were fewer. In the seventies it needed courage to be painted
by Whistler; now it was to risk notoriety and ridicule. Lady Meux was
the first to give him a commission. Two of his three large full-lengths
of her are amongst his most distinguished portraits. She was handsome,
of a luxuriant type, her full-blown beauty a contrast to the elusive
loveliness of Maud in the _Fur Jacket_, or Mrs. Leyland, or Mrs. Huth.
Whistler found appropriate harmonies. One was an _Arrangement in White
and Black_. There is a sumptuousness in the velvet gown and the long
cloak he never surpassed, and the firm modelling of the face, neck, and
arms gives to the regal figure more solidity than he ever got before.
Whistler was pleased with it, spoke of it as his "beautiful Black
Lady," and Lady Meux was so well pleased that she posed a second time.
In this, the _Harmony in Flesh Colour and Pink_, afterwards changed to
_Pink and Grey_, she wears a round hat low over her face, and a pink
bodice and skirt, and stands against a pink background, and the ugly
fashion of the day cannot conceal the beauty. The third portrait, as
far as we can find out, was never finished. Mr. Walter Dowdeswell has
a pen-and-ink drawing of it. She wears a fur cap, a sable coat, and
carries a muff. For this, it is said, after differences, a maid posed
and Whistler painted her face over the Lady's. Mr. Harper Pennington
says: "The only time I saw Jimmy stumped for a reply was at a sitting
of Lady Meux (for the portrait in sables). For some reason Jimmy
became nervous, exasperated, and impertinent. Touched by something he
had said, her ladyship turned softly towards him and remarked, quite
softly, 'See here, Jimmy Whistler! You keep a civil tongue in that head
of yours, or I will have in some one to _finish_ those portraits you
have made of me!' with the faintest emphasis on 'finish.' Jimmy fairly
danced with rage. He came up to Lady Meux, his long brush tightly
grasped, and actually quivering in his hand, held tight against his
side. He stammered, spluttered, and finally gasped out, 'How dare you?
How dare you?' but that, after all, was _not_ an answer, was it? Lady
Meux did not sit again. Jimmy never spoke of the incident afterwards,
and I was sorry to have witnessed it."

At the time of the London Memorial Exhibition Lady Meux offered the
Committee the two portraits in her possession on condition that the
third should be returned to her. This the Committee were unable to
do, and it was not until her will was published after her death, in
January 1911, in which she bequeathed the missing picture and the
correspondence relating to it to the National Gallery, that any more
was heard about it. Then a statement appeared in a New York paper that
the portrait was in the collection of Mr. Freer, and Miss Birnie Philip
stated in the _Times_ that Whistler had destroyed the picture which,
according to Lady Meux in her will, "was ordered and paid for by her
husband, but it had never come into his possession nor could it be
found."

Sir Henry Cole posed for a second portrait and Whistler got back from
Mr. Way the first, discovered in one of the rolls of canvases he bought
at the sale. Mr. Cole saw the second portrait in the studio:

"_February 26_ (1882). Found his commencement of my father, good but
slight, full length, evening clothes, long dark cloak thrown back, red
ribbon of Bath."

"_April 17_ (1882). In spite of his illness, my father to Whistler's,
who fretted him by not painting; my father thought that Jimmy had
merely touched the light on his shoes, and nothing else, although he
stood and sat for over an hour and a half."

This was the last sitting. The next day Sir Henry Cole died suddenly:
a distinguished official lost to England, a friend lost to Whistler.
Eldon, an artist much with Whistler at the time, was in the studio on
the 17th, and recalled afterwards that Sir Henry Cole's last words on
leaving were, "Death waits for no man!" Whistler meant to go on with
the portrait. On May 2 Mr. Cole went again to Tite Street: "After a
long delay, Jimmy showed me his painting of my father, which J. can
make into a very good thing."

It is said not to have been finished, but we possess a photograph of
it which shows no want of finish. This also, Mr. Cole was informed,
Whistler destroyed. Neither was a full-length of Eldon finished: a fine
thing, to judge from the photograph we have seen. It also has vanished,
though a small half-length, sent to the London Memorial Exhibition,
but not hung--it may be a copy--is now in New York. During the next few
years other portraits were begun, and of several we have photographs
which it is not possible to identify. An _Arrangement in Yellow_ was of
Mrs. Langtry. For a new version of his scheme of "blue upon blue" Miss
Maud Waller posed. Mrs. Marzetti, her sister, who went with her to the
studio, writes:

"The sittings commenced in the early part of 1882. We went two or
three times, and then Whistler painted the face out, as it was not to
his liking, although most people thought it excellent. In those days
Maud was very beautiful. The picture was started on a canvas that
already had a figure on it, and it was turned upside down, and the
_Blue Girl's_ head painted in between the legs. The dress was made
by Mme. Alias, the theatrical costumier, to Whistler's design, and I
believe cost a good deal. In the end the picture was finished from
another model (I do not know who), and was hung in one of Whistler's
exhibitions in Bond Street [_Notes, Harmonies, Nocturnes_, May 1884, at
Dowdeswell's]: it is No. 31 in the catalogue, and called _Scherzo in
Blue--The Blue Girl_. This was the same exhibition in which he hung the
picture he gave me, and which in the end I never got (No. 66, _Bravura
in Brown_). I should have treasured it for two reasons: Whistler's
painting, and also that it was a portrait of Mr. Ridley. The picture of
Maud was to have been at the Grosvenor Gallery, but was not finished.
However, it was sent in for the private view, and taken away again the
same night or next morning. We used thoroughly to enjoy our visits
to the studio--that is to say, I did, because I sat and looked on. I
can't say whether Maud enjoyed them as much; probably not, as we used
to get down there about eleven o'clock, have lunch, and stay all the
afternoon, most of which time she was standing.

"I cannot remember all the callers we used to see there, as there were
so many, but some of the more frequent visitors I remember well. There
was one man who was always there, all day long, and we just hated him;
I don't know why, as he seemed very harmless. He was Whistler's shadow.
I don't know who he was, but have an idea that he used to write a bit.
I think he was very poor, and that Whistler pretty well kept him. I
heard some few years ago that he died in a lunatic asylum. Oscar Wilde
was a frequent visitor, also Walter Sickert. Whistler used to say,
'Nice boy, Walter!' he was very fond of him then. Others I remember
were two brothers named Story, Frank Miles (who had a studio just
opposite Whistler's)--Renée Rodd as Whistler used to call him--Major
Templar, Lady Archie Campbell, and Mrs. Hungerford. Whistler was just
finishing the portrait of Lady Meux, and I stood for him one day for
about five minutes. It was a full-length portrait in black evening
dress, with a big white cloak over the shoulders.

"Whistler was a most entertaining companion; he was very fond of
telling us Edgar Allan Poe's stories, and also of reciting _The Lost
Lenore_, which he said was his favourite poem. He dined with us several
times in Lyall Street; he was always late for dinner, sometimes half
an hour, and I think on more than one occasion was sound asleep at the
table before the end of the dinner.

"Whistler's usual breakfast, which he often had after we arrived at the
studio, was two eggs in a tumbler, beaten up with pepper, salt, and
vinegar, bread and coffee....

"Whistler stood yards away from the picture with his brush, and would
move it as though he were painting; he would then jump across the room,
and put a dab of paint on the canvas; he also used to wet his finger
and gently rub portions of his picture. I have often seen him take
a sponge with soap and water and wash the Blue Girl's face (on the
canvas, I mean)."

Lady Archibald Campbell, also posing for Whistler, said: "He was a
great friend of ours. I think I sat to him during a year or so, off and
on, for a great many studies in different costumes and poses. His first
idea was to paint me in court dress. The dress was black velvet, the
train was silver satin with the Argyll arms embroidered in appliqué in
their proper colours. He made a sketch of me in the dress. The fatigue
of standing with the train was too great, and he abandoned the idea.
In all these studies he called my attention to his method of placing
his subject well within the frame, explaining that a portrait must be
more than a portrait, must be of value decoratively. He never patched
up defects, but, if dissatisfied with any portion of his work, covered
the canvas afresh with his first impression freshly recorded. The first
impression thrown on the canvas he often put away, often destroyed.
Among others, he made in oils an impression of me as Orlando, in
the forest scene of _As You Like It_, at Coombe. He considered this
successful. A picture he called _The Grey Lady_ was a harmony in silver
greys. I remember thinking it a masterpiece of drawing, giving the
impression of movement. I was descending a stair, the canvas was of a
great height, and the general effect striking. It was almost completed
when my absence from town prevented a continuance of the sittings.
When I returned he asked to make a study of me in the dress in which I
called upon him. This is the picture which he exhibited under the name
of _The Brodequin Jaune_, or _The Yellow Buskin_. As far as I remember
it was painted in a few sittings. When I saw him shortly before his
death I asked after _The Grey Lady_. He laughed and said he had
destroyed her."

Mr. Walter Sickert has recorded a number of interesting details about
these pictures, though his statements are vague. He says that the
canvases had a grey ground "made with black and white mixed with
turpentine," and that Whistler used a medium of oil and turpentine,
and "covered thinly the whole canvas with his prepared tones, using
house-painters' brushes for the surfaces, and drawing lines with round
hogshair brushes nearly a yard long.... His object was to cover the
whole canvas at one painting--either the first or the hundredth."
Lady Archibald asked him if he was going to touch up her portrait at
the last sitting. Whistler said, "Not touch it up, give it another
beautiful skin." Mr. Sickert also very aptly suggests the reason why
some of the portraits were never completed. Whistler did them all
over, again and again, till they were "finished--or wrecked, as often
happened, from the sitter getting tired, or growing up, or growing
old." Almost the only new fact in Mr. Frank Rutter's _Whistler_ is
given him by Mr. Sickert, who says he remembers once Whistler standing
on a chair with a candle at the end of a sitting from Lady Archibald
Campbell, looking at his work, but undecided whether he should take it
out or leave it. They started to dinner, and in the street he decided,
saying, "You go back. I shall only be nervous and begin to doubt again.
Go back and take it all out." This, Mr. Sickert says he did, with a rag
and benzoline.

M. Duret suggests that the ridicule of her friends had an effect on
Lady Archibald Campbell, or perhaps her beauty made her critical;
anyhow, she suggested changes to Whistler, who, though he seldom
accepted suggestions from his sitters, did his best to meet her, until
it seemed as if, to please her, he must repaint the picture, and he
was discouraged. We have heard of a scene outside the studio: Lady
Archibald in a hansom on the point of driving away never to return;
M. Duret springing on the step and representing the loss to the world
of the masterpiece, and arguing so well that she came back, and _The
Yellow Buskin_ was saved from the fate of _The Grey Lady_ and _The
Lady in Court Dress_. Some think the portrait that was finished is
Whistler's greatest. It has distinction and character. It is another
_Arrangement in Black_ in which critics could then discover but
dinginess and dirt. One wit described it as a portrait of a lady
pursuing the last train through the smoke of the Underground. People
have learned to see, or at least to think they should see, beauty, and
to-day they hardly dare deny it is a masterpiece. Whistler called it
first the _Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell_, but afterwards _The
Yellow Buskin_, the title in the Wilstach Collection, Philadelphia,
where it now hangs.

Mr. Walter Sickert tells an amusing story of Whistler's way sometimes
of meeting the suggestions of sitters:

"I remember an occasion when Whistler, yielding to persuasion, allowed
himself to introduce, step by step, certain modifications in the scheme
of a portrait that he was painting. As time went on he saw his own
conception overlaid with an image that he had never intended. At last
he stopped and put his brushes slowly down. Taking off his spectacles,
he said, 'Very well, that will do. This is your portrait. We will put
it aside and finish it another day.' 'Now, if you please,' he added,
dragging out a new grey canvas, 'we will begin mine.'"

M. Duret posed to Whistler at the same time as Lady Archibald Campbell.
When she could not come Whistler would telegraph him, and day by day he
watched the progress of her portrait while his was growing. Business
brought M. Duret to London. He had always been much with artists
in Paris, had been intimate with Courbet, was still with Fantin,
Manet, and Bracquemond. He recognised the genius of men at whom the
world scoffed, and it was he who by an article in the _Gazette des
Beaux-Arts_ (April 1881) made the French realise their mistake of
years, and again give Whistler the place so long denied him.

[Illustration: DRAWING IN WASH FOR A CATALOGUE OF BLUE AND WHITE NANKIN
PORCELAIN

In the possession of Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

(_See page 157_)]

[Illustration: STUDY

LITHOTINT. W. 2

From a print lent by T. R. Way, Esq.

(_See page 157_)]

One evening in 1883, after a private view, Whistler and Duret were
talking over the pictures they had seen, and in discussing the portrait
of the President of some society, Whistler declared that red robes
of office were not in character with modern heads, and that a man
should be painted in the costume of his time, and he asked Duret to
pose to him that he might show what could be done with evening dress,
the despair of painters. The experiment was not so original as Duret
seemed to think. Leyland was painted in this way ten years before, when
Whistler proved the truth of Baudelaire's assertion that the great
colourist can get colour from a black coat, a white shirt, against a
dark background. Sir Henry Cole also posed in evening dress. Whistler
did not rely entirely upon so simple a scheme in his portrait of Duret,
who has a pink domino over his arm, a red fan in his hand. His portrait
is called _Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Black_.

M. Duret describes Whistler at work. He marked slightly with chalk the
place for the figure on the canvas, and began at once to put it in, in
colour; at the end of the first sitting the scheme was there. This was
the method that delighted Whistler. The difficulty with him was not to
begin a portrait, but to finish it. The painting was brought almost to
completion, rubbed out, begun again, and repainted ten times. Duret saw
that it was a question not only of drawing, but of colour, of tone,
and understood Whistler's theory that to bring the whole into harmony
and preserve it the whole must be repainted as a whole, if there was
any repainting to be done. There are finer portraits, but not many
that show so well Whistler's meaning when he said that colour is "the
arrangement of colour." The rose of the domino, the fan, and the flesh
is so managed that the cold grey of the background seems to be flushed
with rose. Duret, when he showed the picture, took a sheet of paper,
cut a hole in it, and placed it against the background, to prove that
the grey, when surrounded by white, is pure and cold without a touch of
rose, and that Whistler got his effect by his knowledge of the relation
of colour and his mastery of tone.

The _Lady Meux--Black and White_ went to the _Salon_ of 1882,
catalogued as _Portrait de M. Harry--Men_, to the confusion of
commentators. The _Harmony in Flesh Colour and Pink_ was shown at the
Grosvenor with _Nocturne in Blue and Silver_, _Scherzo in Blue--The
Blue Girl_, _Nocturne in Black and Gold--Southampton Water_,
_Harmony in Black and Red_, _Note in Black and Opal--Jersey_, _Blue and
Brown--San Brelade's Bay_. The _Times_ was unable to decide whether
Whistler was making fun of them or whether something was wrong with
his eyes. The _Pall Mall_ regretted that "if the _Lady Meux_ was full
of fine and subtle qualities of drawing, the _Scherzo in Blue_ [Miss
Waller] was the sketch of a scarecrow in a blue dress without form
and void. It is very difficult to believe that Mr. Whistler is not
openly laughing at us when he holds up before us such a piece as this.
His counterpart in Paris, the eccentric M. Manet, has at least more
sincerity than to exhibit his work in such an imperfect condition."

But Whistler now had defenders. An "Art Student" wrote the next day
to the _Pall Mall_ to point out that "at the private, and therefore,
presumably, the Press, view, _The Blue Girl_ was seen in an unfinished
state, having been sent there merely to take up its space on the wall.
It was removed immediately, and has been since finished. Had the critic
seen it since he would hardly have called it without form and void. The
want of artistic sincerity is certainly the last charge that can be
brought against a man who has followed his artistic intention with such
admirable and unswerving singleness of purpose."

From this time onward Whistler no longer fought his battles alone.

Eighteen eighty-two was the year of _The Paddon Papers_. Mr. Cole
noted in his diary: "_September 24._ To Jimmy's. He lent me proof of
his Paddon and Howell correspondence. Amusing, but too personal for
general interest." We agree with Mr. Cole. There were complications
of no importance with Howell, in which Paddon, a diamond merchant,
figured, and complications over a Chinese cabinet which Mr. Morse
bought from Whistler when he moved from No. 2 Lindsey Row. For long Mr.
Morse had only the lower part, while Howell kept the top. Whistler, who
thought nothing concerning him trivial, published this correspondence
in a pamphlet, called _The Paddon Papers: The Owl and the Cabinet_,
interesting now only because it is rare and because it was the end of
all relations between himself and Howell.

In the early winter of 1883 Whistler gave the second exhibition of his
Venetian etchings at the Fine Art Society's. The prints, fifty-one in
number, included several London subjects. He decorated the gallery in
white and yellow. The wall was white with yellow hangings, the floor
was covered with pale yellow matting and the couches with pale yellow
serge. The cane-bottomed chairs were painted yellow. There were yellow
flowers in yellow pots, a white and yellow livery for the attendant,
and white and yellow Butterflies for his friends. At the private view
Whistler wore yellow socks just showing above his shoes, and the
assistants wore yellow neckties. He prepared the catalogue; the brown
paper cover, form, and size now established. He printed after each
number a quotation from the critics of the past, and on the title-page,
"Out of their own mouths shall ye judge them." A friend who looked over
the proofs for him writes us:

"We came to 'there is merit in them, and I do not wish to understand
it.' [A quotation from the article in the _Nineteenth Century_ which
Sir Frederick Wedmore must wish could be forgotten.] Jimmy yelled
with joy, and thanked the printer for his intelligent misreading of
_understate_. 'I think we will let that stand as it is,' he said. I
was amused at the private view to see him discussing the question with
Wedmore, who, naturally, did not think it quite fair."

Before the show opened it was, Whistler told us, "Well, you know,
a source of constant anxiety to everybody and of fun to me. On the
ladder, when I was hanging the prints, I could hear whispers: no one
would be able to see the etchings! And then I would laugh, 'Dear me,
of course not! that's all right. In an exhibition of etchings the
etchings are the last things people come to see!' And then there was
the private view, and I had my box of wonderful little Butterflies,
and I distributed them only among the select few, so that, naturally,
everybody was eager to be decorated. And when the crowd was greatest
Royalty appeared, quite unprecedented at a private view, and the crowd
was hustled into another room while the Prince and Princess of Wales
went round the gallery, looking at everything, the Prince chuckling
over the catalogue. 'I say, Mr. Whistler, what is this?' he asked
when he came to the _Nocturne--Palaces_. 'I am afraid you are very
malicious, Mr. Whistler,' the Princess said."

Those who received the little Butterflies thought them charming. Mrs.
Marzetti writes us:

"I have a few treasures which I guard most jealously; one is the golden
Butterfly that he made us wear at the private view of his exhibition
in Bond Street, in the original little card box in which he sent them
(three I think) to mother, with a message written on the lid, and
signed with his Butterfly."

The public laughed. They thought the Butterflies added to the screaming
farce, the foppery of the whole thing. The attendant in yellow and
white livery was called the poached egg. The catalogue was worse. Poor
Wedmore and the others could hardly like to have their blunders and
blindness immortalised. Most of them made the best of it by refusing
to see in him anything but the jester. His humour was compared to Mark
Twain's, and he to Barnum, and the show was "excruciatingly agreeable."
Some honestly thought his work rubbish, and found his last little
joke dull without being cheap. Their ridicule has become ridiculous.
As for Whistler's etchings, the price of the series of _Twelve_,
as of the _Twenty-Six_ issued a year or so later in which many of
these prints were published, was fifty guineas; on May 27, 1908, the
single print _Nocturne--Palaces_ sold in Paris for one hundred and
sixty-eight guineas, and we have been offered two hundred pounds for
our _Traghetto_. The etchings were also shown in decorated rooms in
Boston and Philadelphia.

For the exhibitions of 1883 he had no new work, but sent two earlier
Nocturnes to the Grosvenor and to the _Salon_ the _Mother_, and was
awarded a third-class medal, the only recompense he ever received at
the _Salon_. In the winter of 1883-84 he worked a great deal out of
doors, spending many weeks at St. Ives, Cornwall. He took no interest
in landscape; "there were too many trees in the country," he said. But
he loved the sea, from the days of _The Blue Wave_ at Biarritz and
_The Shores of Brittany_ until one of the last summers when he painted
at Domburg, in Holland. The Cornish sketches were sent to his show of
_Notes, Harmonies, Nocturnes_, at Dowdeswell's Gallery in May 1884, the
first exhibition in which he included many water-colours. The medium
had been difficult to him; now he was its master. He used it to record
subjects as characteristic of London as the subject of his pastels were
of Venice. There were also studies and sketches in Holland, for he
was always running about again. The interest of the catalogue was in
the preface, _L'Envoie_ he called it, and was so laughed at not only
for the place he gave it, but for the spelling, that he searched the
dictionaries, and then declared, we cannot say with what authority,
that _envoie_ means some sort of snake. "Ha ha! that's it! Venom!" he
said. The _Envoie_, without his explanation, is interesting, for it
consists of the _Propositions No. 2_, which have become famous: that
a picture is finished when all traces of the means that produced it
have disappeared; that industry in art is a necessity, not a virtue;
that the work of the master reeks not of the sweat of the brow; that
the masterpiece should appear as the flower of the painter, perfect in
its bud as in its bloom. He decorated the gallery: delicate rose on
the walls, white dado, white chairs, and pale azaleas in rose-flushed
jars. The Butterfly, tinted in rose, was on the card of invitation. The
_Arrangement in Flesh Colour and Grey_ was as little appreciated as the
_Yellow and White_ in 1883; to the critics it was a new affectation.

There were signs of appreciation when, in 1884, Whistler sent the
_Carlyle_ to the Loan Exhibition of Scottish National Portraits at
Edinburgh, where it created an impression. There had been attempts
to sell the picture. M. Duret tried to interest an Irish collector,
who, however, did not dare to buy it. It was offered to Mr. Scharfe,
director of the British National Portrait Gallery, who not only refused
to consider the offer, but laughed at the idea that "such work should
pass for painting." The first endeavour to secure it for a national
collection came from George R. Halkett, who urged its purchase for the
Scottish National Gallery in the _Scotsman_ (October 6, 1884). He was
supported by Mr. William Hole in a letter published the following day.

Unfortunately, the subscription paper disclaimed approval of Whistler's
art and theories on the part of subscribers. Whistler, indignant,
telegraphed to Edinburgh: "The price of the _Carlyle_ has advanced to
one thousand guineas. Dinna ye hear the bagpipes?" The price he had
asked was four hundred, and this ended the negotiations.

Why about this time Whistler should have become involved in a Church
Congress in the Lake Country, unless he was coming from or going to
Scotland, we never have been able to explain. He told us about it years
later, and he seemed no less amazed than we. J. was just about to
start for the Lakes, and Whistler was reminded of his excursion there.
We give the note made at the time:

"_Sunday_, _September_ 16 (1900). Whistler dined, and Agnes
Repplier--not a successful combination. The dinner dragged until E.
J. Sullivan happened to come in, and Whistler woke up, and, all of a
sudden, we hardly know how, he was plunged into the midst of the Lake
Country and a Church Congress, travelling third class with the clergy
and their families, eating jam and strange meals with quantities of
tea, and visiting the Rev. Mr. Green in his prison, shut up by his
bishop for burning candles, and altogether the hero and important
person he would never be on coming out. An amazing story, but what
Whistler was doing in the Lakes with the clergy he did not appear to
know; the story was enough."

The only result of the expedition was the etching done in Cumberland,
and his impression of the unpicturesqueness of the Lakes: the mountains
"were all little round hills with little round trees out of a Noah's
Ark." What he thought of great mountain forms we do not know for, save
on the trip to Valparaiso and going to Italy, he never saw them. Yet
the lines of the coast in the _Crépuscule_ show that he could render
mountains. But, as he said, the mountains of Cumberland are only little
round hills. At the end of his life he saw the mountains of Corsica,
Gibraltar, and Tangier, but there is no record.



CHAPTER XXV: AMONG FRIENDS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY-SEVEN.


It was in the summer of 1884 that J. met Whistler. Up to this time we
have had to rely upon what Whistler and those who knew him have told
us. Henceforward we write from our own knowledge.

This is J.'s story of the meeting: "I first saw Whistler July 13, 1884.
I had been asked by Mr. Gilder, editor of the _Century Magazine_, to
make the illustrations for a series of articles on _Old Chelsea_ by
Dr. B. E. Martin, and Mr. Drake, the art editor, suggested that if
I could get Whistler to etch, draw, or paint something in Chelsea
for the _Century_, the _Century_ would be very glad to have it. His
water-colours and pastels were being shown at Dowdeswell's--_Notes_,
_Harmonies_, _Nocturnes_--and there his address was given me: No. 13
Tite Street.

"The house did not strike me, I only remember the man and his work. I
knocked, the door was slightly opened, and I handed in my letter from
Mr. Gilder. I was left in the street. Then the door was opened wide,
and Whistler asked me in. He was all in white, his waistcoat had long
sleeves, and every minute it seemed as if he must begin to juggle with
glasses. For to be honest, my first impression was of a bar-keeper
strayed from a Philadelphia saloon into a Chelsea studio. Never had I
seen such thick, black, curling hair. But in the midst was the white
lock, and keen, brilliant eyes flashed at me from under the thick,
bushy eyebrows.

"At the end of the hall into which he took me was a shadowy passage,
then some steps, a light room beyond, and on an easel the portrait of
a little man with a violin, the _Sarasate_, that had never been seen
outside the studio. Whistler stopped me in the passage and asked me
what I thought of the picture. I cannot recall his words. I was too
overwhelmed by the dignity of the portrait to remember what he said.

"Later on he brought out _The Falling Rocket_. 'Well now, what do you
think of that? What is it?'

"I said fireworks, and I supposed one of the Cremorne pictures.

"'Oh, you do, do you? Isn't it amazing? Bring tots, idiots, imbeciles,
blind men, children, anything but the Islander, and they know; even
you, who stole the name of my _Little Venice_.'

"This referred to an etching of mine which had been published under
the title of _Little Venice_. Why Whistler did not resent this always
or let it interfere with our friendship later, I do not know, for Mr.
Keppel has told me he felt bitterly about it at the time.

"Whistler also showed me some of his pastels. And he talked, and I
forget completely what he said until, finally, I suggested why I
had come, for I did not think there was any greater honour than to
see one's work in the pages of the _Century_. There was some excuse
delightfully made. Then he called to someone who appeared from a
corner. And Whistler said to him, 'Here's a chance for you. But you
will do these things.' And that was my introduction to Mr. Mortimer
Menpes.

"This was not what I had bargained for, and I said promptly, 'Mr.
Whistler, I came here to ask you to let us have some drawings of
Chelsea. If you cannot, why, I'll do them myself.'

"'Stay and lunch,' Whistler said, and there was lunch, a wonderful
curry, in a bright dining-room--a yellow and blue room. Later on he
took me down to the Embankment, and, though it seemed so little like
him, showed me the Carlyle statue and Turner's house. He pointed out
his own houses in Lindsey Row, and told me of a photographer who had
reproduced all his pictures and photographed old Chelsea. I remember,
too, asking Whistler about the Thames plates, and his telling me they
were all done on the spot. And then he drove me in a cab to Piccadilly,
and asked me to come and see him again.

"The next Sunday I went with Mr. Stephen Parrish to Haden's, in
Hertford Street. We were taken to the top storey, where Haden was
working on the mezzotint of the _Breaking up of the Agamemnon_. I asked
him--I must have almost paralysed him--what he thought of Whistler,
and he told me that if ever he had to sell either his collection of
Whistlers or of Rembrandts, the Rembrandts should go first. He told
that story often--and later they both went.--Downstairs, in a sort of
conservatory at the back of the dining-room, was a printing press. Lady
Haden joined us at lunch. So also did Mr. Hopkinson Smith, resurrecting
vast numbers of American 'chestnuts.' I can recall that both Parrish
and I found him in the way, and I can also recall his getting us into
such a state that, as we came down a street leading into Piccadilly,
Parrish vented his irritation on one of the public goats which in those
days acted both as scavengers and police for London. As the goat put
down his head to defend himself, Parrish put up his umbrella, and the
goat fled into the open door of a club. What happened after that we did
not wait to see.

"I saw Whistler only once again that summer. He was in Charing Cross
Station, in front of the bookstall. He wore a black frock-coat, white
trousers, patent leather shoes, top hat, and he was carrying, the only
time I ever saw it, the long cane. I did not want to speak to him, and
I liked his looks less than when I first met him.

"Early in the autumn of 1884 we went to Italy, and it was several years
after our return before I got really to know him, and to understand
that his appearance was to him merely a part of the 'joke of life.'"

[Illustration: TALL BRIDGE

LITHOGRAPH. W. 9

From a print lent by T. R. Way, Esq.

(_See page 157_)]

[Illustration: NOCTURNE

LITHOTINT. W. 5

From a print lent by T. R. Way, Esq.

(_See page 157_)]



CHAPTER XXVI: AMONG FRIENDS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-ONE TO EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY-SEVEN CONTINUED.


Whistler said he could not afford to keep a friend, but he was never
without many. A photograph taken in his studio in 1881 shows him the
centre of a group, of whom the others are Julian and Waldo Story,
sons of W. W. Story; Frank Miles, a painter from whom great things
were expected; and the Hon. Frederick Lawless, a sculptor. In the
background is a little statuette everybody wanted to know the merit of,
explained one day by Whistler, "Well, you know--why, you can take it up
and--well, you can set it down!" Mr. Lawless writes us that Whistler
modelled the little figure, though we never heard that he modelled
anything, and Professor Lantéri says he never worked in the round. Mr.
Pennington suggests that the statuette was by Mr. Waldo Story, but Mr.
Lawless says:

"When Whistler lived in his London studio he often modelled graceful
statuettes, and one day he put up one on a vase, asking me to
photograph it. I said he must stand beside it. He said, 'But we must
make a group and all be photographed,' and that I was to call out to
his servant when to take the lid off the camera, and when to put it
back. I then developed the negative in his studio."

Mr. Francis James, often at 13 Tite Street, has many memories,
specially of one summer evening when Coquelin _aîné_ and a large party
came to supper and Whistler kept them until dawn and then took them to
see the sun rise over the Thames, a play few had ever performed in.

For two or three years no one was more with Whistler than Sir Rennell
Rodd. He writes us:

"It was in '82, '83 that I saw most of him. Frank Miles, Waldo and
Julian Story, Walter Sickert, Harper Pennington, and, at one time,
Oscar Wilde, were constantly there. Jimmy, unlike many artists, liked a
_camarade_ about the place while he was working, and talked and laughed
and raced about all the time, putting in the touches delicately, after
matured thought, with long brushes. There was a poor fellow who had
been a designer for Minton--but his head had given way and he was
already quite mad--used to be there day after day for months and
draw innumerable sketches on scraps of brown paper, cartridge boards,
anything--often full of talent, but always mad. Well, Jimmy humoured
him and made his last weeks of liberty happy. Eventually he had to be
removed to an asylum, and died raving mad. I used to help Whistler
often in printing his etchings. It was very laborious work. He would
manipulate a plate for hours with the ball of the thumb and the flat
of the palm to get just the right superficial ink left on it, while
I damped the paper, which came out of old folio volumes, the first
and last sheets, with a fairly stiff brush. And often, for a whole
morning's work, only one or two prints were achieved which satisfied
his critical eye, and the rest would be destroyed. There was a Venetian
one which gave him infinite trouble in the printing.

"He was the kindest of men, though he was handy with his cane. In any
financial transaction he was scrupulously honourable, though he never
had much money at his disposal.

"We had great fun over the many correspondences and the catalogues
elaborated in those days in Tite Street.... He was demoniacal in
controversy, and the spirit of elfin mischief was developed in him to
the point of genius.... Pellegrini was much at Whistler's in those
days, and in a way the influence of Whistler was fatal to him. His
admiration was unbounded and he abandoned his art, in which, as Jimmy
used to say, 'he had taught all the others what none of them had been
able to learn,' and took to trying to paint portraits in Whistler's
manner without any success.

"One of the few modern painters I have ever heard him praise was Albert
Moore, and I am not sure that was not to some extent due to a personal
liking for the man. It always struck me his literary judgments, if he
ever happened to express any, were extraordinarily sound and brilliant
in summing up the merits or demerits of a writer.

"He had an extraordinary power of putting a man in his place. I
remember a breakfast which Waldo Story gave at Dieudonné's. Everyone
there had painted a picture, or written a book, or in some way outraged
the Philistine, with the exception of one young gentleman, whose
_raison d'être_ there was not so apparent as were the height of his
collars and the glory of his attire. He nevertheless ventured to lay
down the law on certain matters which seemed beyond his province,
and even went so far as to combat some dictum of the master's, who,
readjusting his eye-glass, looked pleasantly at him, and said, 'And
whose son are you?'"

For two or three years Oscar Wilde was so much with Whistler that
everyone who went to the studio found him there, just as everyone who
went into society saw them together. Wilde had come up from Oxford
not long before the Ruskin trial, with a reputation as a brilliant
undergraduate, winner of the Newdigate prize, and he now posed as the
apostle of "Beauty." Many a reputation is lost between Oxford and
London, but his was strengthened. Oscar's witty sayings were repeated
and his youth seemed to excuse his pose. Whistler impressed him. At
Oxford Wilde had followed Ruskin, and broken stones on the road which
was to lead the young to art; he had read with Pater, he had accepted
the teaching of Morris and Burne-Jones, and their master Rossetti. But
Ruskin was impossible to follow, Pater was a recluse, Rossetti's health
was broken, the prehistoric Fabians, Morris and Burne-Jones, were the
foci of a little group of their own. When Wilde came to London Whistler
was the focus of the world. Whistler was sought out, Wilde tried to
play up. In Tite Street blue and white was used, not as a symbol of
faith, but every day; flowers bloomed, not as a pledge of "culture,"
but for their colour and form; beauty was accepted as no discovery, but
as the aim of art since the first artist drew a line and saw that it
was beautiful. Whistler knew all this. Wilde fumbled with it.

Whistler was flattered by Wilde. He was looked upon as the world's
jester when Wilde fawned upon him. Other young men gathered about
Whistler had name and reputation to make. But Wilde's name was in every
man's mouth; he glittered with the glory of the work he was to do. He
was the most promising poet of his generation and he was amusing. There
was a charm in his personality. We remember when we met him on his
lecture tour in America, and hardly knew whether the magnificence on
the platform where, in velvet knickerbockers, he faced with calmness
rows of college boys each bearing a lily, and stood with composure
their collective emotion as he sipped a glass of water, was more
wonderful than his gaiety when we talked with him afterwards. It has
been said that he gave the best of himself in his talk. If Whistler
liked always to have a companion, his pleasure was increased when he
found someone as brilliant. Wilde spent hours in the studio, he came
to Whistler's Sunday breakfasts, he assisted at Whistler's private
views. Whistler went with him everywhere. There were few functions at
which they were not present. At receptions the company divided into two
groups, one round Whistler, the other round Wilde. It was the fashion
to compare them. To the world that ran after them, that thought itself
honoured, or notorious, by their presence, they seemed inseparable.

The trouble began when Whistler discovered how small was Wilde's
knowledge of art; he could never endure anybody in the studio who did
not understand. Whistler wrote of Wilde as a man "with no more sense
of a picture than of the fit of a coat." _The Gentle Art_ shows that
Whistler was furious with Wilde's borrowing from him. That Wilde took
his good where he found it is neither more nor less than what has
always been done--what Whistler did. But the genius, from the good
thus taken, evolves something of his own. Wilde was content to shine
personally and let the great things expected of him wait. When it was
a question of wit, there was no one to whom Wilde could go except
Whistler. It is all expressed in the old story: "I wish I had said
that, Whistler." "You will, Oscar, you will." In matters of art Wilde
had everything to learn from Whistler, who, though ever generous,
resented Wilde's preaching in the provinces the truths which he had
taught for years. This is all in _The Gentle Art_. "Oscar" had "the
courage of the opinions ... of others!" and again: "Oscar went forth
as my St. John, but, forgetting that humility should be his chief
characteristic and unable to withstand the unaccustomed respect with
which his utterances were received, he not only trifled with my shoe,
but bolted with the latchet!"

Mr. Cole, in 1884, noted in his diary that Whistler "was strong on
Oscar Wilde's notions of art which he derived from him (Jimmy)." Mr.
Herbert Vivian tells the story of a dinner given by Whistler after
Wilde had been lecturing:

"'Now, Oscar, tell us what you said to them,' Whistler kept insisting,
and Wilde had to repeat all the phrases, while Whistler rose and made
solemn bows, with his hand across his breast, in mock acceptance of his
guests' applause.... The cruel part of the plagiarism lay in the fact
that, when Whistler published his _Ten O'Clock_, many people thought it
had all been taken from Wilde's lecture."

Whistler grew more and more exasperated by the use Wilde made of him.
Their intimacy was closest in the early eighties when Whistler was
bewildering the world deliberately; Wilde copied him clumsily. The
world, that did not know them, mistook one for the other and thought
Whistler as much an æsthete as Wilde. When _Patience_ was produced, and
when it was revived a few years ago, Bunthorne, who was Wilde, appeared
with Whistler's black curls and white lock, moustache, tuft, eye-glass,
and laughed with Whistler's "Ha ha!" Whistler, seeing Wilde in a Polish
cap and "green overcoat befrogged and wonderfully befurred," desired
him to "restore those things to Nathan's, and never again let me find
you masquerading the streets of my Chelsea in the combined costumes
of Kossuth and Mr. Mantalini!" To be in danger of losing his pose
before the world was bad enough, but to be mistaken for another man who
rendered him ridiculous was worse. No one has summed up the position
better than the _Times_ in a notice of Wilde's _Collected Works_:

"With a mind not a jot less keen than Whistler's, he had none of the
conviction, the high faith, for which Whistler found it worth while
to defy the crowd. Wilde had poses to attract the crowd. And the
difference was this, that while Whistler was a prophet who liked to
play Pierrot, Wilde grew into a Pierrot who liked to play the prophet."

If Whistler ever played Pierrot, it was with a purpose. Where art was
concerned he was serious. Wilde was serious about nothing. His two
topics were "self and art," and his interest in both was part of his
bid for notoriety. He might jest about himself, but flippancy, if art
was his subject, was to Whistler a crime. The only way he showed his
resentment was by refusing to take Wilde seriously about anything. Even
when Wilde was married, he was not allowed to forget, for Whistler
telegraphed to the church, "Fear I may not be able to reach you in time
for the ceremony. Don't wait." Later, in Paris, he called Wilde "Oscar,
_bourgeois malgré lui_," a witticism none could appreciate better than
the Parisians. As soon as he began to make a jest of Wilde he ended
the companionship to which, while it lasted, London society owed much
gaiety.

The relation between Whistler and artists now coming to the studio was
less that of friends than of Master and Followers, as they called
themselves. He was forty-six when he returned from Venice, and there
were few men of the new generation who shared none of the doubts of his
contemporaries, but believed in him. The devotion of this group became
infatuation. They were ready to do anything for him. Families became
estranged and engagements were broken off because of him. They fought
his battles; ran his errands, spied out the land for him; published
his letters, and read them to everybody. They formed a court about
him. They exaggerated everything, even their devotion, and became
caricatures of him, as excessive in imitation as in devotion. He denied
the right of any, save the artist, to speak authoritatively of art;
they started a club to train the classes--Princes, Prime Ministers,
Patrons, Ambassadors, Members of Parliament--to blind faith in Master
and Followers. Whistler mixed masses of colours on the palette, keeping
them under water in saucers. The Followers mixed theirs in vegetable
dishes and kept them in milk-cans, labelled Floor, Face, Hair, Lips.
He had a table-palette; they adopted it, but added hooks to hang their
cans of paint on. He used his paint very liquid--the "sauce" of the
Nocturnes; they used such quantities of medium that as much went on the
floor as on the canvas, and, before a picture was blocked in, they were
wading in liquid masterpieces. Many of his brushes were large; they
worked with whitewash brushes. They copied his personal peculiarities.
One evening at a dinner when he wore a white waistcoat and all the
buttons, because of the laundress, came out, a Follower, seeing it
buttonless, hurried from the room, and returned with his bulging, sure
that he was in the movement.

Whistler accepted their devotion, and, finding them willing to squander
their time, monopolised it. There was plenty for everybody to do in the
studio. If they complained that he took advantage of them, he proved to
them that the fault was theirs. Mr. Menpes writes:

"We seldom asked Whistler questions about his work.... If we had, he
would have been sure to say, 'Pshaw! You must be occupied with the
Master, not with yourselves. There is plenty to be done.' If there was
not, Whistler would always make a task for you--a picture to be taken
into Dowdeswells', or a copper plate to have a ground put on."

No one respected the work of others more than Whistler. But if others
did not respect it themselves and made him a present of their time
he did not refuse. If he allowed the Followers to accompany him in
his little journeys, it was because they were so eager. When he went
with Walter Sickert and Mortimer Menpes to St. Ives, in the winter
of 1883-84, they were up at six o'clock because it pleased him; they
dared not eat till he rang the bell. They prepared his panels, mixed
his colours, cleaned his brushes, taking a day off for fishing if
Whistler chose, abjuring sentiment if he objected. Whistler saw the
humour in their attitude and was the more exacting. The Followers were
not allowed their own opinions. Once, when Walter Sickert ventured
to praise Leighton's _Harvest Moon_ at the Manchester Art Treasures
Exhibition, Whistler, hearing of it, telegraphed: "The Harvest Moon
rises over Hampstead [where Sickert lived], and the cocks of Chelsea
crow." The Followers, however, knew that if they were of use to
Whistler, he was of infinitely more use to them, and that submission to
his rule and exposure to his wit were a small price to pay. Mr. Sickert
tells another story. He and Whistler were once printing etchings
together, when the former dropped a copper plate. "How like you!" said
Whistler. Five minutes afterwards the improbable happened. Whistler,
who was never clumsy, dropped one himself. There was a pause. "How
unlike me!" was his remark.

Mr. Menpes, who, in _Whistler as I Knew Him_, makes more of the follies
than the privileges of the Followers, cannot ignore their debt. They
worked for him not only in the studio, but in the street, hunting with
him for little shops, corners and models, painting at his side, walking
home with him after dinner or supper at the club, learning from him
to observe and memorise the night. To them he was full of kindliness,
when to the world he often seemed insolent and audacious, and after
his death--even before--some denied him. Later Whistler said that the
Followers were there in the studio; yes, but they never painted there;
they were kept well in the background.

American artists, in London or passing through, began to make their way
to the studio. Otto Bacher records in 1883 Whistler's friendliness, the
pictures in the studio, their dinners together. In 1885 Mr. John W.
Alexander came, commissioned by the _Century_ to make a drawing of him
for a series of portraits. Whistler posed for a little while, though
unwillingly, and criticised the drawing so severely that Mr. Alexander
tore it up. After that, he says, Whistler posed like a lamb. Mr. Harper
Pennington has written for us his reminiscences of those years:

"... Whistler was more than kind to me. Through him came everything.
He introduced me right and left, and called me 'pupil'; took me about
to picture shows and pointed out the good and bad. I remember my
astonishment the first occasion of his giving unstinted praise to
modern work, on which he seldom lavished positives. It was at the Royal
Academy before one of those interiors of Orchardson's. Well, he stood
in front of the canvas, his hat almost on his nose, his 'tuft' sticking
straight out as it did when he would catch his nether lip between his
teeth, and, presently, a long forefinger went out and circled round a
bit of yellow drapery, 'It would have been nice to have painted that,'
he said, as if he thought aloud.

"Another day we rushed to the National Gallery--'just to get the taste
out of our mouths,' he said--after a couple of hours' wandering in the
Royal Academy wilderness of Hardy Annual Horrors. Whistler went at once
to almost _smell_ the Canalettos, while I went across the Gallery,
attracted by the _Marriage à la Mode_. It was my first sight of them.
Up to that day I had supposed that what I was told and had read of
Hogarth was the truth--the silly rubbish about his being _only_ a
caricaturist, so that when confronted with those marvels of technical
quality, I fairly gasped for breath, and then hurried over to where
Whistler had his nose against the largest Canaletto, seized his arm,
and said hurriedly, 'Come over here.' 'What's the matter?' said he,
turning round. 'Why! Hogarth! He was a great painter!' 'Sh--sh!' said
he (pretending he was afraid that someone would overhear us). 'Sh--sh!
Yes, I _know_ it, ... _but don't you tell 'em_!' Later, Hogarth was
thoroughly discussed and his qualities pointed out with that incisive
manner which one had to be familiar with to understand.

"Whistler was reasonable enough and preferred a joke to a battle any
day. Often he came to me in the King's Road, breathing vengeance
against this or that person, but when he went away it was _invariably_
with a _fin sourire_ and one of his little notes. His clairvoyance
in the matter of two notes to Leighton was made manifest at my
writing-table. The P.R.A. wrote a lame explanation to Whistler's first
query as to why he had not been invited to the Academy _soirée_, as
President of the R.S.B.A., _ex-officio_, or as Whistler. He came
into my room one morning early--before I, sluggard, was awake!--and
read to me an outline of a note he meant to write, and then wrote it
with grace of diction and dainty composition, and the pretty balanced
Butterfly for signature. When that was done, he turned to me (I was
dressing then) and said: 'Now, Har-r-rpur-r-r.' (He liked to burr those
r's in 'down-east' fashion.) 'Now, Har-r-rpur-r-r, I know Leighton, he
will _fumble_ this. He will answer so-and-so' (describing the answer
Leighton actually sent), 'and then I've got him!' He chuckled, wrote
another note--the retort to Leighton's unwritten answer to Whistler's
not yet posted first note--which he read to me. That retort was sent
almost verbatim, only one slight change made necessary by a turn of
phrase in Leighton's weak apology! That _was_ 'Amazing.' His anger soon
burnt out--the jest _would_ come--and the whole thing boiled itself
down in the _World_, or a line to 'Labby.'"

[Illustration: NOCTURNE IN BLUE AND GOLD

OLD BATTERSEA BRIDGE

OIL

In the National Gallery of British Art, Tate Gallery

(_See page 172_)]

[Illustration: THE FALLING ROCKET

NOCTURNE IN BLACK AND GOLD

OIL

In the possession of Mrs. S. Untermeyer

(_See page 170_)]



CHAPTER XXVII: THE STUDIO IN THE FULHAM ROAD. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY-FIVE TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-SEVEN.


In 1885 Whistler moved from Tite Street to 454 Fulham Road. A shabby
gate opened on a shabby lane leading to studios, one of which was his.
Here Lady Archibald Campbell's and M. Duret's portraits were finished.
Whistler was living at the time with Maud in a little house close by,
since pulled down, which he called the "Pink Palace," having painted
it himself. He was again hard up, and M. Duret, coming to dinner,
would buy a good part of it on the way down and arrive, his pockets
bulging with bottles and fruit and cake. Before long Whistler left the
"Pink Palace" for the Vale, Chelsea--"an amazing place, you might be
in the heart of the country, and there, two steps away, is the King's
Road." It was the first house on the right beyond the iron gates, now
demolished. But the whole place has gone.

In the _Court and Society Review_ (July 1, 1886) Mr. Malcolm C. Salaman
described the Fulham Road studio and the work in progress:

"The whitewashed walls, the wooden rafters, which partly form a loft
for the stowing away of canvases, the vast space unencumbered by
furniture, and the large table-palette, all give the appearance of the
working place.... Mr. Whistler is not so feeble as to aim at theatrical
effects in his costume. In the black clothes of ordinary wear, straight
from the street, he stands at his easel. To those accustomed to studios
the completeness of the arrangement ... in accordance with the scheme
of the picture that is in progress is striking, as striking indeed
as the personality of the artist. His whole body seems instinct with
energy and enthusiasm, his face lit up with flashes of quick and strong
thought, as that of a man who sees with his brains as well as with his
eyes....

"A word, by the way, about Mr. Whistler's palette. As I saw it the
other day, the colours were arranged almost with the appearance of a
picture. In the centre was white and on one side were the various reds
leading up to black, while on the other side were the yellows leading
up to blue....

"And now a few words about some of the pictures which the master had
almost ready for exhibition: A full-length figure of a girl in out-door
black dress, with a fur cape and a hat trimmed with flowers. She stands
against a dark background, and she _lives_ in her frame. A full-length
portrait of Mr. Walter Sickert, a favourite pupil of Mr. Whistler's
and one of his cleverest disciples. He is in evening dress, and stands
against a dark wall. This is a picture that Velasquez himself would
have delighted in. [It has vanished.] A full-length portrait of a man
with a Spanish-looking head, painted in a manner that is surely of
the greatest. [Perhaps the portrait of Chase or of Eldon; both have
disappeared.]... A superb portrait of Mrs. Godwin will rank among Mr.
Whistler's _chefs d'oeuvre_. The lady stands in an ample red cloak over
a black dress, against red draperies, and in her bonnet is a red plume.
Her hands rest on her hips, and her attitude is singularly vivacious.
This picture has been painted in artificial light, as has also another
of a lady seated in a graceful attitude, with one hand leaning over the
back of a chair, while the other holds a fan. She wears a white evening
dress, and is seen against a light background. [A picture we cannot
identify.] Besides these Mr. Whistler showed me sketches of various
groups of several girls on the seashore ... [_The Six Projects_] and
a sketch of _Venus_, lovely in colour and design, the nude figure
standing close to the sea, with delicate gauze draperies lightly lifted
by the breeze. The studio is full of canvases and pictures in more or
less advanced stages, and on one of the walls hang a number of pastel
studies of nude and partially draped female figures. A portrait-sketch
in black chalk of Mr. Whistler by M. Rajon also hangs on the wall."

The _Further Proposition_, which was quoted by Mr. Salaman, can be read
in _The Gentle Art_. It is Whistler's statement that a figure should
keep well within the frame, and that flesh should be painted according
to the light in which it is seen: the answer to the objection often
made to his portraits because the "flesh was low in tone." A year
later it was reprinted in the _Art Journal_ (April 1887) by Mr. Walter
Dowdeswell, whose article was the first appreciation of Whistler in
an important English magazine. Whistler, knowing the value of what he
wrote, meant that his writings should be preserved, and he gave to Mr.
Dowdeswell for publication the reply which he had made twenty years
earlier to Hamerton's criticism of the _Symphony in White, No. III._,
but which was not then printed because the _Saturday Review_, where the
criticism appeared, did not publish correspondence. Mr. Dowdeswell,
describing the studio, adds a few details omitted by Mr. Salaman: "The
_soupçon_ of yellow in the rugs and matting; a table covered with old
Nankin china; a crowd of canvases at the further end, and, pinned upon
the wall on the right, a number of exquisite little notes of colour,
and drawings of figures from life, in pastels, on brown paper."

Mr. E. J. Horniman, who had a studio near by, tells us that he often
saw on the roof of the omnibus stable, just behind it, pictures put out
to dry.

Many who visited the studio were surprised to find Whistler working
in white. He sometimes wore a white jacket; sometimes took off his
coat and waistcoat. He was as fastidious with his work as with his
dress. He could not endure a slovenly palette, or brushes and colours
in disorder, though the palette had a raised edge to keep the colour
off his sleeve. Unfortunately, after his wife's death he ruined the
two portraits of himself in the white painting jacket, which he never
exhibited, by changing the white jacket to a black coat.

Other reminiscences of Fulham Road we have from William M. Chase,
who came to London in 1885, with a suggestion that he and Whistler
should paint each other; also, that Whistler should go back to
America and open a school. "Well, you know, that anyway will be all
right, Colonel," as Whistler called Chase. "Of course, everybody will
receive me; tug-boats will come down the Bay; it will be perfect!" He
thought so seriously of going, that he hesitated to send to the London
galleries work he would want for America.

The two portraits were begun. Whistler painted a full-length of Chase,
in frock-coat and top-hat, a cane held jauntily across his legs. As he
wrote afterwards, in a letter included in _The Gentle Art_, "I, who was
charming, made him beautiful on canvas, the Masher of the Avenues."
Whistler was delighted with what he had done:

"Look at this, Colonel! Look at this; did you ever see anything finer?"

"It's meek or modest, they'll have to put on your tombstone!"

"Say 'and' not 'or'--meek and modest! H'm!--well, you know, splendid,
Chase!"

Chase remembers an evening when they were to dine out, and Whistler had
to go home to dress, and it was almost the hour before he ventured to
remind him. Then Whistler was astonished:

"What, Chase, you can think of dinner and time when we are doing such
beautiful things? Stay where you are, and they will be glad to see me
whenever I come."

Everybody who has been with him in the studio knows how difficult it
was for him to stop when he was absorbed in his work. Mr. Pennington
says: "Whistler's habit of painting long after the hour when anybody
could distinguish gradations of light and colour was the cause of much
unnecessary repainting and many disappointments, for after leaving
a canvas that seemed exquisite in the dusk of the falling night, he
would return to it in the glare of the next morning and find unexpected
effects that had been concealed by the twilight. Whistler never learned
to hold his hand when daylight waned. The fascination of _seeming_ to
have caught the values led him far into the deceiving shades of night
with often disastrous results."

Whistler's portrait of Chase has vanished with many another. Chase
painted Whistler also in frock-coat, without a hat, holding the long
cane, against a yellow wall, and his portrait remains. Chase intended
stopping a short time in London as he passed on to Madrid. But he found
Whistler so delightful that his visit to Spain was put off. He has
told many incidents of these months spent with Whistler in a lecture
delivered in the United States, and in an article in the _Century_. A
lecturer, no doubt, must adapt himself to his audience, and Chase has
dwelt principally on Whistler, the man--Whistler, the dandy; Whistler,
the fantastic, designing, for the tour in America, a white hansom with
yellow reins and a white and yellow livery for the nigger driver;
Whistler, the traveller. They went together to Belgium and Holland.
They stopped at Antwerp and saw the International Exhibition. Whistler
said to us once that he could never be ill-natured, only wicked, and
this was one of the occasions when he was wicked. In the gallery he
refused to look at any pictures except those that told stories, asking
Chase if the mouse would really scare the cat or the baby swallow the
mustard-pot. The first interest he showed was in the work of Alfred
Stevens. Before it he stood long; at last, with his little finger
pointing to a passage in the small canvas, "H'm, Colonel! you know
one would not mind having painted that!" Chase grew nervous as they
approached the wall devoted to Bastien-Lepage, whom he admired, and he
decided to leave Whistler. But Whistler would not hear of it. "I'll say
only one word, Chase," he promised. Then they came to the Bastiens,
"H'm, h'm, Colonel, the one word--School!" On the journey from Antwerp
to Amsterdam two Germans were in the train: "Well, you know, Colonel,
if the Almighty ever made a mistake it was when he created the German!"
Whistler said at the end of a few minutes. Chase told him that if he
could speak German he might understand their interesting talk. Whistler
answered in fluent German and talked nothing else, until, at Haarlem,
Chase could endure it no longer and left. Whistler leaned out of the
window as the train started, "Think it over, Chase, and to-morrow
morning you will come on to Amsterdam, and you'll tell me that I'm
right about the Germans!"

One incident not told in print by Chase is that while in London he
was the owner of the _Mother_. An American had given him money to buy
pictures, and when he found that the _Mother_ was to be had from Mr.
Graves for one hundred pounds he bought it, but first was referred to
Whistler by Mr. Graves. Whistler, delighted to learn that he could
control the pictures deposited with the Pall Mall firm, agreed to
everything, but the agreement, was settled the day before starting for
Antwerp, and when Chase got the money from his bankers and hurried to
the Graves Gallery it was closed, and he gave the cheque to Whistler.
The picture was his, but only during the time of Whistler's absence
from London, for on his return Whistler could not bear to part with it
and promptly sent the cheque back to Chase--or it may be that the trip
with Chase helped him to change his mind.

All this is characteristic, but it would be interesting to hear less
of his play and more of his work from Chase, who gives only a glimpse
of Whistler the artist, and then in lighter moods. He tells of one
occasion when an American wanted to buy some etchings, and they were
to lunch with him in the City to arrange the matter. Taking a hansom,
late of course, they passed a grocer's where Whistler stopped the
driver: "Well, Chase, what do you think? If I get him to move the box
of oranges? What?" And then, still later, they drove on. Another time,
Chase expressed surprise at Whistler's refusing to deliver a picture to
the lady who had bought it. But Whistler explained:

"You know, Chase, the people don't really want anything beautiful. They
fill a room by chance with beautiful things, and some little trumpery
something over the mantelpiece gives the whole damned show away. And if
they pay a hundred pounds or so for a picture, they think it belongs to
them. Well--why--it should only be theirs for a while; hung on their
walls that they may rejoice in it and then returned." Once, it is said,
a lady drove up to the studio and told him: "I have bought one of your
pictures, it is beautiful, but as it is always at exhibitions I never
see it. But I'm told you have it." "Dear lady," said Whistler, "you
have been misinformed, it is not here." And she drove away. Later he
found it: "H'm, she was right about one thing, it is beautiful. But
because she's paid hundreds of pounds for it, she thinks she ought to
have it all the time. She's lucky if she gets it now and then."

It must be admitted that it is not easy from any standpoint to write
of Whistler during the years that followed his return from Venice. The
decade between 1880 and 1890 is the fullest of his full life. It was
during these ten years that he opened his "one man" shows amidst jeers,
and closed them with success. It was during these ten years that he
conquered society, though society never realised it. It was during
these ten years that, to make himself known, he became in the streets
of London the observed of all observers, developing extraordinary
costumes, attracting to himself the attention he wanted to attract. It
was during these ten years that he began to wrap himself in mystery,
as Degas said of him, and then go off and get photographed, when, as
Degas also said, he acted as if he had no genius: but mystery and pose
were part of the armour he put on to protect himself from, and draw
to himself, a foolish public. It was during these ten years that he
invented the Followers--and got rid of them; that he flitted from house
to house, from studio to studio, and through England, France, Belgium,
and Holland, until it is impossible to keep pace with him; that he
captured the Press, though it is still unconscious of its capture; that
he concentrated the interest of England, of the whole world upon him,
with one object in view--that is, to make England, the whole world,
look at his work. For, as he said, if he had not made people look at
it they never would have done so. They never understood it, they hated
it. They do not understand it to-day, and they hate it the more because
he has succeeded and they have failed in their endeavours to ignore or
ruin him. Even now that it is too late, they are crawling from their
graves and spitting at him, flinging mud at his memory.

In these crowded years two events stand out with special prominence,
his _Ten O'Clock_ and his invasion of the British Artists. One states
definitely his views on art; the other shows as definitely the position
he had attained among artists.



CHAPTER XXVIII: THE TEN O'CLOCK. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-FOUR TO
EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT.


Into _The Ten O'Clock_ Whistler put all he had learned of art, all he
knew to be unchangeable and everlasting. Mr. W. C. Alexander has told
us that when he listened to _The Ten O'Clock_ at Prince's Hall, nothing
in it was new to him; he had heard it for years from Whistler over the
dinner-table. The only new thing was Whistler's determination to say
in public what he had said in private. He was busy with this in the
autumn and winter of 1884-85. He would come at strange hours and read
a page to Mr. Cole, in whose diary, from October until February, note
follows note of his visits:

"_October 24_ (1884). Whistler to dine. We passed the evening writing
out his views on Ruskin, art, etc.

"_October 27._ Jimmy to dinner, continuing notes as to himself and art.

"_October 28._ Writing out Whistler's notes for him.

"_October 29._ Jimmy to dine. Writing notes as to his opinions on
art matters, and discussing whether to offer them for publication to
_English Illustrated Magazine_ edited by Comyns Carr, or to whom?"

Mr. G. A. Holmes, in his Chelsea house, was often roused by the sharp
ring and double-knock, followed by Whistler with a page or paragraph
for his approval. Mr. Menpes writes that "scores of times--I might
almost say hundreds of times--he paced up and down the Embankment
at night, repeating to me sentences from the marvellous lecture."
A marvellous story. During a few days' illness at his brother's in
Wimpole Street, where, when ill, he went, Mrs. Whistler recalled him
sitting, propped up by pillows, reading passages to the doctor and
herself.

His plan for an article in the _English Illustrated Magazine_ came to
nothing. In November 1884 Lord Powerscourt, Mr. Ludovici says in the
_Art Journal_ (July 1906), invited Whistler to Ireland to distribute
prizes at an art school and speak to the students, and nothing was more
appropriate than the notes he had written down.

Mr. Cole records:

"_November 19_ (1884). Whistler called and told us how he was invited
to Ireland, where he was sending some of his works, and would lecture
in Dublin."

The invitation came from the Dublin Sketching Club, which held its
exhibitions in Leinster Hall. Three other Americans--Sargent, Julian
Story, and Ralph Curtis--were invited. No such collection of Whistler's
work had been seen out of London. Mr. Booth Pearsall, the honorary
secretary, sends us this account:

"He was exceedingly generous to a club of strangers, lending them
twenty-five of his works. This collection included the _Mother_,
_Lady Meux_, _Carlyle_, a number of Nocturnes, and other oils,
water-colours, and pastels. The pictures had to be hung together in a
group. As I was so interested in them, with Mr. Whistler's permission,
I had them photographed. He never asked for rights or commission, but,
in the most gracious, generous way, gave us the permission to use the
negatives as we liked. The exhibition was hardly opened before the
critical music began, and in the papers and in conversation, a regular
tempest arose that was highly diverting to Mr. Whistler. He begged me
to send him everything said about the exhibition, and his letters show
he quite enjoyed all the ferment. The whole of Dublin was convulsed,
and many went to Molesworth Street to see the exhibition who rarely
went to see anything of the kind. Then a terrible convulsion took place
in the club: a group of members we had admitted, who photographed,
got together, and drew up resolutions, that never again should such
pictures be exhibited. None of these men could even paint. The talent
of the club replied by having Mr. Whistler elected as hon. member, and
it was carried, despite intense resistance. I took an active part in
all this. It was with a view to helping Mr. Whistler that I did my best
to have his _Ten O'Clock_ given in Dublin. He was at first disposed
to come over, but other matters prevented, and the matter dropped.
During the time of the exhibition, I tried my utmost to sell the
pictures, and an offer was made by a friend to purchase the _Mother_
and the _Carlyle_, which seemed to promise well, but ultimately
stopped. I did induce the friend to purchase _Piccadilly_, which had
been No. 9, _Nocturne in Grey and Gold--Piccadilly_ (water-colour),
in his exhibition in Bond Street that May [Dowdeswell's]. He was very
much pleased indeed, and sent the Right Hon. Jonathan Hogg, P.C., a
receipt, greatly to Mr. Hogg's amusement, for an impression was rife
that he never did attend to business. I know from friends, who knew Mr.
Whistler, how much pleased he was, not only with the purchase of his
pictures, but with the commotion that the exhibition caused."

Whistler did not give up the idea of a lecture. Archibald Forbes heard
him read, was impressed, and introduced him to Mrs. D'Oyly Carte. She
had managed a lecture tour for Forbes, now she agreed to arrange an
evening for Whistler. She told us of his attention to detail. "The
idea was absolutely his," she wrote us, "and all I did was to see to
the business arrangements. You can imagine how enthusiastic he was
over it all, and how he made one enthusiastic too." She was about to
produce _The Mikado_, and, sure that he would find her in her office
at the Savoy Theatre, he would appear there every evening to talk
things over, or would send Mr. Walter Sickert with a message. Whistler
delighted in her office, a tiny room lit by a lamp on her desk, making
strange effects, but his only records of his many visits are in the
etchings, _Savoy Scaffolding_ and _Miss Lenoir_, Mrs. D'Oyly Carte's
name before her marriage. Prince's Hall was taken. Whistler suggested
the hour. People were not to rush to him from dinner as to the theatre;
therefore ten was as early as one could expect them, and the hour gave
the name--_The Ten O'Clock_. He designed the ticket, he had it enlarged
into a poster, he chose the offices where tickets should be sold. There
was a rehearsal at Prince's Hall on February 19 (1885), Mrs. D'Oyly
Carte and some of the Followers sitting in front to tell him if his
voice carried. Whistler had his lecture by heart, his delivery was
excellent, he needed no coaching, only an occasional warning to raise
his voice. It was because he feared his voice would not carry that he
gave his nightly rehearsals on the Embankment, Mr. Menpes says.

[Illustration: _M^r. Whistler's_

"_Ten o'clock._"      _Prince's Hall, Piccadilly._

_On the evening of Feb. 20._

_Carriages at 11._

_Tickets can be obtained at all The Libraries._]

On February 20, 1885, the hall was crowded. Reporters expressed the
general feeling when they wondered whether "the eccentric artist was
going to sketch, to pose, to sing, or to rhapsodise," and were frankly
astonished when the "amiable eccentric" chose to appear simply as "a
jaunty, unabashed, composed, and self-satisfied gentleman, armed with
an opera hat and an eye-glass." Others were amazed to see him "attired
in faultless evening dress." The Followers compared the figure in black
against the black background to the _Sarasate_, and they recall his
hat carefully placed on the table and the long cane as carefully stood
against the wall. Oscar Wilde called him "a miniature Mephistopheles
mocking the majority." The unprejudiced saw the dignity of his presence
and felt the truth and beauty of his words. Mrs. Anna Lea Merritt
writes us:

"It is always a delight to remember that actually once Mr. Whistler
was really shy. Those who had the pleasure of hearing the first
_Ten O'Clock_ remember that when he came before his puzzled and
distinguished audience there were a few minutes of very palpable
stage-fright."

He had notes, but he seldom referred to them. He held his audience
from the first, and Mrs. D'Oyly Carte recalled the hush in the hall
when he came to his description of London transfigured, a fairyland
in the night. "I went to laugh and I stayed to praise," is the late
Lewis F. Day's account to us, and others were generous enough to make
the same admission. Whistler forced his audience to listen because he
spoke with conviction. _The Ten O'Clock_ was the statement of truths
which his contemporaries were doing their best to forget. When we read
it to-day, our surprise is that things so obvious needed saying. Yet
the need exists to-day more than ever. Almost every one of Whistler's
propositions and statements has been traduced or ignored by critics,
who are incapable of leading thought or are dealers in disguise, and
painters compare their puny selves and petty financial scrapes to
Whistler's magnificent efforts and complete success in his battles for
art and his reputation.

To this lecture we owe the most interesting profession of artistic
faith ever made by an artist. At the time it was given there was a
reaction, outside the Academy, against the anecdote and sentiment of
Victorian art. Ruskin through his books, the Pre-Raphaelites through
their pictures, had spread the doctrine that art was a question of
ethics and industry. Pater preached that it belonged to the past,
William Morris taught that it sprang from the people and to the people
must return. Strange, sad-coloured creatures clad themselves in
strange, sad-coloured garments and admired each other. Many besides
Oscar Wilde profitably peddled in the provinces what they prigged or
picked up; artists proclaimed the political importance of art; parsons
discovered in it a new salvation. "Art was upon the town," as Whistler
said. But ethics and business, fashion and socialism had captured
it. _The Ten O'Clock_ was a protest against the crimes committed in
the name of art, against the belief that art belonged to the past or
concerned the people, that its object was to teach or to elevate.
"Art and Joy go together," he said, the world's masters were never
reformers, never missionaries, but, content with their surroundings,
found beauty everywhere. There was no great past, no mean present, for
art, no drawing of lines between the marbles of the Greek and the fans
and broideries of Japan. There was no artistic period, no art-loving
people. Art happened, and, in a few eloquent words, he told the history
of its happening and the coming of the cheap and tawdry, when the
taste of the tradesman supplanted the science of the artist, and the
multitude rejoiced. Art is a science--the science by which the artist
picks and chooses and groups the elements contained in Nature, that
beauty may result. For "Nature is very rarely right, to such an extent
even, that it might almost be said that Nature is usually wrong." He
has been so frequently misunderstood that it may be well to emphasise
the meaning of these two assertions, the rock upon which his faith
was founded. Art happens because the artist may happen anywhere at
any time; art is a science not because painters maintain that it is
concerned with laws of light or chemistry of colours or scientific
problems, but because it is exact in its methods and in its results.
The artist can leave no more to chance than the chemist or the botanist
or the biologist. Knowledge may and does increase and develop, but the
laws of art are unalterable. Because art is a science the critic who
is not an artist speaks without authority and would prize a picture as
a "hieroglyph or symbol of story," or for anything save the painter's
poetry which is the reason for its existence, "the amazing invention
that shall have put form and colour into such perfect harmony, that
exquisiteness is the result." The conditions of art are degraded by
these "middlemen," the critics, and by the foolish who would go back
because the thumb of the mountebank jerked the other way. He laughed
at the pretence of the State as fosterer of art--art that roams as
she will, from the builders of the Parthenon to the opium-eaters of
Nankin, from the Master at Madrid to Hokusai at the foot of Fusiyama.
His denial of an artistic period or an art-loving people was his
defence of art against those who would bound it by dates and confine
it within topographical limits. He meant, not that a certain period
might not produce artists and people to appreciate them, but that art
is independent of time and place, "seeking and finding the beautiful
in all conditions and in all times, as did her high priest, Rembrandt,
when he saw picturesque grandeur and noble dignity in the Jews' quarter
of Amsterdam, and lamented not that its inhabitants were not Greeks.

[Illustration: THE BRIDGE

ETCHING. G. 204

By permission of Messrs. Dowdeswell

(_See page 199_)]

[Illustration: THE DOORWAY

ETCHING. G. 188

By permission of the Fine Art Society

(_See page 192_)]

"As did Tintoret and Paul Veronese, among the Venetians, while not
halting to change the brocaded silks for the classic draperies of
Athens.

"As did, at the Court of Philip, Velasquez, whose Infantas, clad in
inæsthetic hoops, are, as works of Art, of the same quality as the
Elgin Marbles."

As did, he might have added, Whistler, during the reign of Victoria, in
his portraits and Nocturnes which have carried on the art of the world.

His argument was clear and his facts, misunderstood, are becoming
the _clichés_ of this generation. Critics, photographers, even Royal
Academicians have appropriated the truths of _The Ten O'Clock_, for
strange things are happening to the memory of the Idle Apprentice. He
made his points wittily; he chose his words and rounded his sentences
with the feeling for the beautiful that ruled his painting. _The Ten
O'Clock_ has passed into literature. Those Sunday wrestlings with
Scripture in Lowell, that getting of the Psalms by heart at Stonington
developed a style the literary artist may envy. This style in _Art
and Art Critics_ had its roughness. He pruned and chastened it in his
letters to the papers, devoting infinite thought and trouble to them,
for he, more than most men, believed that whatever he had to do was
worth doing with all his might. He would write and rewrite them, and
drive editors mad by coming at the busiest hour to correct the proof,
working over it an hour or more, and then returning to change a word or
a comma, while press and printers waited, and he got so excited once
he forgot his eye-glass--and the editor stole it, and, of course, later
lost it. In his correspondence he was as scrupulous, and we have known
him make a rough draft of a letter to his bootmaker in Paris, and ask
us to dictate it to him while he wrote his fair copy, as a final touch
addressing it to M. ----, _Maître Bottier_. In _The Ten O'Clock_ he
brought his style to perfection. His philosophy, based on the eternal
truths of art, was expressed with the beauty that endures for all time.

The critics treated Whistler's lecture as they treated his exhibitions.
The _Daily News_ was almost alone in owning that its quality was a
surprise. The _Times_ had the country with it when it said that "the
audience, hoping for an hour's amusement from the eccentric genius of
the artist, were not disappointed." "The eccentric freak of an amiable,
humorous, and accomplished gentleman," was the _Daily Telegraph's_
opinion. Oscar Wilde, in the _Pall Mall Gazette_, was shocked that
an artist should talk of art, and was unwilling to accept the fact
that only a painter is a judge of painting. This was natural, for as
an authority on art Wilde had made himself ridiculous. Nor could he
assent to much that Whistler said, for, as a lecturer, he had been a
perambulating advertisement for the æsthetic movement, against which
_The Ten O'Clock_ was a protest. But he was more generous than other
critics in acknowledging the beauty of the lecture and the earnestness
of the lecturer, though he could not finish his notice without one
parting shot at the man whose target he had often been: "that he is
indeed one of the very greatest masters of painting is my opinion.
And I may add that, in this opinion, Mr. Whistler himself entirely
concurs." This was not the sort of thing Whistler could pass over.
His answer led to a correspondence which made another chapter in _The
Gentle Art_.

Whistler repeated _The Ten O'Clock_ several times; early in March
before the British Artists, and later in the same month (the 24th)
before the University Art Society at Cambridge, where he spent the
night with Sir Sidney Colvin, who writes us, "beyond the mere fact that
Whistler dined with me in Hall and had some chat there with Prince
Edward--an amiable youth who was a little scared at the idea of having
to talk art (of which he was blankly ignorant) but whom Whistler soon
put at his ease; I have no precise recollection of what passed." What a
pity!

On April 30 he gave his lecture at Oxford. Mr. Sidney Starr "went down
with Whistler and his brother, 'Doctor Willie,' to the Mitre. The
lecture hall was small, with primitive benches, and the audience was
small. The lecture was delivered impressively, but lacking the original
emphasis and sparkle. Whistler hated to do anything twice over, and
this was the fourth time."

The fifth time was about the same date, at the Royal Academy Students'
Club in Golden Square, an unexplained accident, and the sixth at the
Fine Art Society's. Dr. Moncure Conway wrote us a year before his
death that he heard _The Ten O'Clock_ at Lady Jeune's, but Lady Jeune
does not recollect it. Whistler we are sure would have remembered and
recorded it. There was a suggestion, which came to nothing, of taking
it on an American tour and to Paris. It was heard twice more in London,
once at the Grosvenor Gallery in February 1888. Val Prinsep recalled
Whistler's "pressing invitation" for him and Leighton to attend:

"During the time he was president of the British Artists, he and the
other heads of art sometimes were asked to dine by our President
(Leighton). 'Rather late to ask _me_, don't you think?' Whistler
remarked. After dinner, he pressed Leighton and me to come to his
lecture, which was to be delivered a few days after. 'What's the use of
me coming?' Leighton said sadly. 'You know I should not agree with what
you said, my dear Whistler!' 'Oh,' cried Whistler, 'come all the same;
nobody takes me seriously, don't you know!'"

It was heard for the last time three years later (1891) at the Chelsea
Arts Club, which had just started and proposed to hold lectures and
discussions; it now gives fancy-dress balls and boxing matches. Before
the club found a home it was suggested that the first of these meetings
should be at the Cadogan Pier Hotel, and Whistler was invited to read
_The Ten O'Clock_, but his answer was, "No, gentlemen, let us go to no
beer hotel," and _The Ten O'Clock_ was put off until the clubhouse in
the King's Road was opened.

_The Ten O'Clock_, originally set up by Mr. Way, was published by
Messrs. Chatto and Windus in the spring of 1888. It had much the same
reception when it was printed as when it was delivered. The only
criticism Whistler took seriously was an article by Swinburne in the
_Fortnightly Review_ for June 1888.

Swinburne objected to Whistler's praise of Japanese art, to his rigid
line between art and literature, to his incursion as "brilliant
amateur" into the region of letters, to his denial of the possibility
of an artistic period or an art-loving people, and to much else
besides. All this might have passed, but Swinburne went further.
He questioned the seriousness of Whistler. He twisted Whistler's
meaning to suit his weighty humour, and then, in a surprising vein of
insolence, re-echoed the popular verdict. The witty tongue must be
thrust into the smiling cheek, he thought, when Whistler wrote, "Art
and Joy go together," which meant, according to Swinburne, that tragic
art is not art at all.

"'Arter that, let's have a glass of wine,' said a famous countryman
of Mr. Whistler's, on the memorable occasion when he was impelled
to address his friend Mr. Brick in the immortal words, 'keep cool,
Jefferson, don't bust.' The admonition may not improbably be required
by the majority of readers who come suddenly and unawares upon this
transcendent and pyramidal pleasantry. The laughing muse of the
lecturer, '_quam Focus circumvolat_,' must have glanced round in
expectation of the general appeal, 'After that, let us take breath.'
And having done so, they must have remembered that they were not in a
serious world; that they were in the fairyland of fans, in the paradise
of pipkins, in the limbo of blue china, screens, pots, plates, jars,
joss-houses, and all the fortuitous frippery of Fusiyama."

This is quoted as an example of Swinburnian humour. The rest of the
article is offensive and ridiculous--the brilliant poet but ponderous
prose writer trying to be funny--with references to the "jester of
genius," to the "tumbler or clown," to the "gospel of the grin." It was
this that hurt--that Swinburne, the poet, "also misunderstood," could
laugh with the crowd at the "eccentricity" and levity of Whistler.
Swinburne's criticism was easy to answer, and was answered in two
of the comments printed, with extracts from the article, in _The
Gentle Art_. "That tragic art is not art at all" is, Whistler wrote,
Swinburne's "own inconsequence," and this _Reflection_ appears on the
opposite margin:

"Is not, then, the funeral hymn a gladness to the singer, if the verse
be beautiful?

"Certainly the funeral monument, to be worthy the Nation's sorrow
buried beneath it, must first be a joy to the sculptor who designed it.

"The Bard's reasoning is of the People. The Tragedy is _theirs_. As one
of them the _man_ may weep--yet will the artist rejoice, for to him is
not 'a thing of beauty a joy for ever'?"

To the _World_ Whistler wrote the letter called "Freeing a Last Friend"
in _The Gentle Art_. It is short, the sting in the concluding paragraph:

"Thank you, my dear! I have lost a _confrère_; but then, I have gained
an acquaintance--one Algernon Swinburne--'outsider'--Putney."

The letter was sent to Swinburne before it appeared in the _World_. We
have been told that it was received at Putney one Sunday morning when
Mr. Watts-Dunton was to breakfast with Whistler. Suspecting that the
letter might not be friendly, Mr. Watts-Dunton took it, unopened, with
him to Chelsea and begged Whistler to withdraw it. Whistler refused.
Mr. Watts-Dunton left the house without breakfasting, and the same day
the letter was delivered to Swinburne, who, after reading it, pale with
rage, swore that never again would he speak to Whistler. As a result,
Mr. Watts-Dunton, we believe, was at pains to avoid Whistler, fearful
of a rupture with him. Mr. Meredith had discovered years before that
the springs in Whistler were prompt for the challenge, and it cannot be
denied that he had reason to see a challenge in Swinburne's article.
How much it hurt he did not conceal in _The Gentle Art_, where the
extracts from Swinburne are followed immediately by _Et tu, Brute_, and
there is nothing more dignified, almost pathetic, in the volume:

"... Cannot the man who wrote _Atalanta_, and the _Ballads
Beautiful_--can he not be content to spend his life with _his_ work,
which should be his love, and has for him no misleading doubt and
darkness, that he should so stray about blindly in his brother's flower
beds and bruise himself!...

"Who are you deserting your Muse, that you should insult my Goddess
with familiarity, and the manners of approach common to the reasoners
in the market-place? 'Hearken to me,' you cry, 'and I will point out
how this man, who has passed his life in her worship, is a tumbler and
a clown of the booths, how he who has produced that which I fain must
acknowledge, is a jester in the ring!'

"Do we not speak the same language? Are we strangers, then, or, in our
Father's house are there so many mansions that you lose your way, my
brother, and cannot recognise your kin?...

"You have been misled, you have mistaken the pale demeanour and joined
hands for an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual
earnestness. For you, these are the serious ones, and, for them, you
others are the serious matter. Their joke is their work. For me--why
should I refuse myself the grim joy of this grotesque tragedy--and,
with them now, you are all my joke!"

And Swinburne, in pitiful spite, we have been told, burned Whistler's
letters, and tried to sell _La Mère Gérard_ which Whistler had given
him. Later, Mr. Watts-Dunton is said to have stated that Whistler asked
Swinburne to write the article, and also that he tried to make peace
between them.



CHAPTER XXIX: THE BRITISH ARTISTS. THE RISE. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY-FOUR TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-SIX.


In the autumn of 1884, Whistler joined the Society of British Artists.
Years later, when a British Artist was dining with us, Whistler came
in. "A delightful evening," he said, towards midnight, the British
Artist having gone, "but what was it for the British Artist sitting
there, face to face with his late President?" And then, he told us how
he became connected with the Society:

"Well, you know, one day at my studio in Chelsea, a deputation
arrived--Ayerst Ingram and one or two others. And there they were--and
I received them charmingly, of course--and they represented to me that
the British Artists' was an old and distinguished Society, possibly
as old as the Academy, and maybe older, and they had come to ask me
if I would do them the honour of becoming a member. It was only right
I should know that the Society's fortunes were at a low ebb, but they
wished to put new life into it. I felt the ceremony of the occasion.
Whatever the Society was at the moment, it had a past, and they were
there with all official authority to pay me a compliment. I accepted
the offer with appropriate courtesy. As always, I understood the
ceremonial of the occasion--and then, almost as soon as I was made a
member I was elected President."

In the summer of 1906 Sir Alfred East, President of the British
Artists, and the Council, with the courtesy Whistler would have
approved, gave us permission to consult the minute-books. The first
mention of Whistler is in the minutes of the half-yearly general
meeting, November 21, 1884, held at the Suffolk Street Galleries, when
it was proposed "that Mr. Whistler be invited to join the Society as
a member. A discussion took place concerning the law of electing Mr.
Whistler by ballot, when it was proposed by Mr. Bayliss, seconded
by Mr. Cauty, that the law relating to the election of members be
suspended." This was carried, and the _Times_ (December 3, 1884) said:
"Artistic society was startled by the news that this most wayward,
most un-English of painters had found a home among the men of Suffolk
Street, of all people in the world."

Whistler had never belonged to any society in England, and had never
been asked, though we believe he was a Freemason; at any rate he had
a pair of sleeve buttons with masonic emblems--apparently--on them.
He was fifty, an age when most men have "arrived" officially, if they
"arrive" at all. Up to this moment he had stood apart from every school
and group and movement in the country. He was as much a foreigner
as when he came, a quarter of a century before, from Paris. He was
a puzzle to the people, more American than English in appearance,
manners, and standards. His short, slight figure, dark colouring and
abundant curls, his vivacity of gesture, his American accent, his
gaiety, his sense of honour, his quick resentment of an insult, were
foreign and, therefore, to be suspected, and his personality increased
the suspicion with which his art was regarded. Recent writers have
analysed his work and pointed out where it is American, French,
Japanese. But to his contemporaries it did not matter what these
tendencies were, the result was not English. His art, in its aims and
methods, was different from theirs, to them he seemed in deliberate
opposition, ruled by caprice, straining after novelty and notoriety.

When Whistler came to England, art was the Academy, an Academy that
had strangled the traditions of art and set up sentiment and anecdote.
Wilkie explained the ideal of the nineteenth-century Academician when
he said that "to know the taste of the public--to learn what will
best please the employer--is, to an artist, the most valuable of
all knowledge"; and the Royal Academy has only carried on the canny
tradition. The classic machines of Leighton, Tadema, and Poynter
appealed to the artless scholar; the idylls of Millais, Marcus Stone,
and Leslie to the artless sentimentalist. Watts preached sermons
for the artless serious, Stacy Marks raised a laugh in the artless
humorist, Herbert and Long edified the artless pious. Every taste was
catered to. Everybody could understand, and art had never been so
popular in England. The Academy became a social power. As art was the
last thing looked for on the walls, so the artist was the last thing
looked for in the Academician. The situation is summed up in Whistler's
reply to a group of ladies who were praising Leighton:

"He is such a wonderful musician! such a gallant colonel! such a
brilliant orator! such a dignified President! such a charming host!
such an amazing linguist!" they chorused. "H'm, paints, too, don't he,
among his other accomplishments?" said Whistler.

It was an extraordinary state of affairs. "Art," was little more than
an excuse for intrigues and trivialities. Men who were thought daring
in rebellion and leaders of secessions did not improve matters. The
Pre-Raphaelites were absorbed in subject, though it was of another
kind, and though they paid greater attention to technique and preached,
as reformers always have, a return to Nature. Their insistence upon
detail and finish, instead of opening their eyes, closed them more
hopelessly by making it a duty to see nothing save unimportant facts,
and to copy these like a machine. The exception, Alfred Stevens, who
neither stooped to the taste of public or patron, nor confused the
artist with the missionary, was as complete a pariah as Whistler, and
he died unknown and unrecognised.

[Illustration: THE BEGGARS

ETCHING. G. 194

By permission of the Fine Art Society

(_See page 199_)]

[Illustration: THE RIALTO

ETCHING. G. 211

By permission of Messrs. Dowdeswell

(_See page 199_)]

The position in France was different. French officialism respected
tradition. The art of the academic painters might be frigid,
conventional, dull, but it was never petty and trivial, never strove to
please by escape from drawing and colour. Gleyre, Ary Scheffer, Couture
were the masters Whistler found in Paris. Their successors--Gérôme,
Jean-Paul Laurens, Bouguereau, Bonnat--did not altogether throw their
dignity as artists to the winds of popularity, or sacrifice it to
social ambition. The rebels in France were not actuated by moral or
literary motives, but broke away from conservatism. Rebellion sent
Holman Hunt to Palestine, Rossetti to mediævalism, Burne-Jones to
legend; it kept Courbet at home, for the true was the beautiful and
truth was to be found in the life and the people about him. Moreover,
the painter was to see these things through, not a microscope, but his
eyes. No man who looks upon a broad landscape can count the blades of
grass in a field, or the leaves of ivy on a wall, or the stars in the
heavens; the eye can take in only the whole, enveloped in atmosphere,
bathed in light, shrouded in darkness, all things keeping their
places in their planes. While in England the artist was searching the
Scriptures and the Encyclopædia for subject, in France he was training
his eye to see things as they are and his hand to render them. This
preoccupation with Nature, and the study of tone, gave artists new
pictorial and technical problems, and subject counted for nothing
except as an aid to their right solution. It is curious to contrast
the work of the men in France and England of the same generation as
Whistler. Fantin-Latour grouped his friends about the portrait of
Delacroix, Leighton rearranged a procession of early Florentines
carrying the Madonna of Cimabue through his idea of the streets. Manet
noted the play of light and colour in the bull-rings of Spain, Tadema
rebuilt on his canvas what he thought were the arenas of ancient Rome.
Degas chose his models among the washerwomen and ballet-girls of modern
Paris, Rossetti borrowing his subjects from Dante.

Whistler, from his first picture, was as preoccupied with the beauty in
the "familiar" as his French fellow students. What might have happened
had he remained in France, it is idle to discuss. Coming to England
he developed in his own way, and this was a way with which English
painters had no sympathy. He was so isolated that nothing has been more
difficult for the historian of modern art than to place, to classify
him. Some authorities have included him among the Realists. His work
eventually differed from that of Courbet and Courbet's disciples, but
he was always as much a realist as they in his preference for the world
in which he lived, and in his study of the relations of the things he
found in it. He never wavered, except when he painted the Japanese
pictures, and then he was not led astray by anecdote or sentiment, but
by the beauty that had drifted from Japan into his house and studio.
London, dirty, gloomy, despised by most artists, with its little
shops and taverns in the fog-bound streets; the Thames, with its ugly
warehouses and gaunt factories in the mist-laden night; the crinolines
of the sixties; the clinging, tight draperies of the seventies,
became beautiful as he saw them. He made no effort to reform Nature,
only reserving his right to select the elements that were beautiful
and could be brought together, as notes in music, to create harmony,
putting into practice his teaching of _The Ten O'Clock_. He sought
colour, mass, not detail. The Pre-Raphaelites wanted to leave out less
than a camera, he wanted to put in no more than came within his vision.
He turned his back on history and archæology, and filled his canvas
with beauty of line and form. And he struggled to perfect his technical
methods, to make of them a perfect medium by which to express this
beauty, to reconcile what he could see in Nature with what his brush
could render. The Pre-Raphaelites laboured over their canvas, inch by
inch; he painted his whole picture at once that unity might result.
The Academicians lost their way in literary labyrinths; he lingered
on the river, learning its secrets, he watched the movement, the pose
of people about him. The modern exhibition forced most painters into
violent colour and exaggerated action, he made no concession, though he
was ready to submit his pictures to the same tests as theirs.

It was inevitable that his English contemporaries could make nothing of
him and his work. The Academician saw but emptiness in his paintings.
To the Pre-Raphaelites they were slovenly and superficial. Holman
Hunt said of him that he knew where to leave off, and was careful in
the avoidance of difficulties; Millais thought him "a great power
of mischief among young men, a man who had never learnt the grammar
of his art." The critics took their cue from the painters, the more
willingly because art criticism then meant analysis of the subject of
a picture, and there was no subject in Whistler's work to analyse. Yet
he never objected to subject. It was only the blind critics and the
blind painters of the day who said he did, and their stupidity is still
aped. The great pictures for him were Velasquez's _Meniñas_ Franz Hals'
_Family_, Tintoretto's _Milky Way_: the greatest subject-pictures in
the world. All he objected to was the cheap drivel or sentiment of the
painter whose mind or whose audience never rose above Mummie's Darling
or the Mustard Pot, the real British school trampled on by Hogarth.
The public, following their leaders, were convinced that Whistler's
work was empty, slight, trivial, an insult to their intelligence,
unless they took it as a jest. Nothing explains the popular conception
of him better than the readiness to see eccentricity even in methods
which he, "heir to all the ages," had inherited. His long-handled
brushes and his manner of placing sitter and canvas were eccentric,
though they had been Gainsborough's a century before. To say that a
picture was finished from the beginning was no less eccentric, though
it was Baudelaire's axiom that the author foresees the last line
of his work when he writes the first. It is easier to make than to
lose the reputation for eccentricity, fatal to success in a land of
conservatism. Whistler saw the Englishmen who had studied in Paris
with him laden with honours; Poynter a prosperous painter, Leighton a
perfect President, Du Maurier the popular idol of _Punch_, Armstrong a
State functionary at South Kensington, while he remained, officially,
on the outside, at fifty less honoured than at twenty-five, because, it
was said, that he had not realised the promise of his youth.

In one respect his position had changed. His contemporaries did not
alter their opinion, but younger artists accepted him and his teaching
unquestioningly for a time. Though doubted and mistrusted, he had
never been without influence. To look over old reviews and notices of
exhibitions is to find references to the effect of his example. In the
_Art Journal_ (June 1887), Sir Walter Armstrong traced the growing
influence of French on English art to the Paris Universal Exhibition of
1867 and to Whistler. But artists of the new generation went further
than the admission of his influence; with the enthusiasm of youth,
they proclaimed his greatness. He was their master--the one master in
England. After his return from Venice, when his fortunes were at their
lowest and the public held him in most contempt, this enthusiasm began
to make itself heard and felt in the studios and the schools.

The British Artists, uncertain of their future, took desperate
remedies. The Society was old, with distinguished chapters in its
history. It was formed by one of the first groups who realised the
necessity for an association in self-defence against the monopoly of
the Academy. It dated back to the beginning of the nineteenth century.
With the old Water Colour Society, it was considered only second in
rank to the Academy. Its gallery was in Suffolk Street, near enough to
the Academy to profit by any overflow of visitors, until the Academy
moved from Trafalgar Square to Piccadilly. The old Water Colour Society
was more independent, because it is devoted to a branch of art never
acknowledged by the Academy, though every Academician tries to sneak
in. But the British Artists suffered from this removal, and found
a formidable rival in the Grosvenor Gallery. In Whistler, with his
following, they seemed to see the man to drag them from the mire into
which they had sunk. The older members hesitated--afraid of Whistler,
afraid of the Academy, afraid of themselves. But the younger members
carried the day.

Whistler worked hard for the Society from his election till his
resignation. He attended his first meeting on December 1, 1884, and
interested himself immediately in the affairs of the Society, though,
according to Mr. Ludovici, this was the last thing the Society expected
of him. He promptly invited his President and fellow members to
breakfast in Tite Street, and, as promptly, was put on a committee for
a smoking concert, a dull and ponderous function. He sent to the Winter
Exhibition (1884-85) two pictures, _Arrangement in Black, No. II._, the
portrait of Mrs. Louis Huth, not exhibited in London since 1874, and a
water-colour, _A Little Red Note, Dordrecht_; in the Summer Exhibition
(1885) he showed the _Sarasate_ for the first time. Mr. Cole wrote in
his diary:

"_October 19th_ (1884). M. and I went to tea with Whistler to see his
fine full-length of Sarasate, the violinist, for next year's Academy."

But whatever his original intention may have been, the _Sarasate_
went to Suffolk Street with several small Notes and Harmonies. If, in
electing him, the British Artists hoped to attract attention to their
exhibition, they were not disappointed. "The eccentric Mr. Whistler
has gone to a neglected little gallery, the British Artists, which
he will probably bring into fashion," Mr. (now Sir) Claude Phillips
wrote in the _Gazette des Beaux-Arts_ (July 1885), and this is what
happened. The distinction of the _Sarasate_ could not be denied. But
in his other work he was pronounced "vastly amusing," the _Pall Mall
Gazette_ seizing this occasion to remind him of "Dr. Oliver Wendell
Holmes' virtuous determination never to be as funny as he could. It is
so bad for the young." Soon Whistler proposed that Sunday receptions
should be given in the gallery, and that medals should be awarded. He
got Mr. Menpes in as a water-colourist, thus establishing distinct
sections in the Society, a scheme he carried out in the International
Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers, and he suggested that
photographs of pictures shown should be sold in the gallery, an idea
copied all over the world. For the Winter Exhibition of 1885-86 he had
another interesting group, including the _Portrait of Mrs. Cassatt_ and
a _Note in Green and Violet_. The _Mrs. Cassatt_ has not been exhibited
in England since, and is one of the least known of his portraits. Mr.
Cassatt, who was among the few believers in Whistler at this period,
came from Paris to London in April 1883, especially to have it painted,
and was with Mrs. Cassatt during the sittings at 13 Tite Street. She
has vivid memories of the brilliant talk between the two men. It is
amusing that Whistler, after having told them the story of _The Peacock
Room_, should have himself arranged for them to see it, and that then
they heard Leyland's story. Mrs. Cassatt wanted to be painted in an
evening gown. Mr. Cassatt preferred her riding habit. "The very thing,"
said Whistler, and so in her riding habit and tall hat she stands on
the canvas. Perhaps it was because of her disappointment that she could
not see a likeness in the portrait. Whistler realised this, but, he
told her, "After all, it's a Whistler." Mr. Cassatt, punctilious in
these matters, paid Whistler for the painting before he returned to
America. Two years passed, and still no portrait. Whistler had probably
kept it back for the British Artists. Mr. Cassatt at last wrote.
They had their reward for the delay. A letter of apologies came from
Whistler and was followed by a case, with not only the portrait in it,
but _The Chelsea Girl_, a painting as little known, and now reproduced
for the first time as far as we have record.

At the British Artists the _Note in Green and Violet_, a small pastel
of a nude, created a far greater sensation than the portrait. About a
month before the show opened, the late J. C. Horsley, R.A., had read,
during a Church Congress, a paper no one would have given a thought to
had not Whistler immortalised it. Horsley said:

"If those who talk and write so glibly as to the desirability of
artists devoting themselves to the representation of the naked human
form, only knew a tithe of the degradation enacted before the model
is sufficiently hardened to her shameful calling, they would for
ever hold their tongues and pens in supporting the practice. Is not
clothedness a distinct type and feature of our Christian faith? All art
representations of nakedness are out of harmony with it."

Whistler answered with "one of the little things that Providence
sometimes sent him": "_Horsley soit qui mal y pense_," he wrote on a
label, and fastened it to the _Note in Green and Violet_. The British
Artists were alarmed, for to enter Suffolk Street was not to abandon
hope of the Academy. The label was removed, not before it had been
seen. The critic of the _Pall Mall_ referred to it as Whistler's
"indignant protest against the idea that there is any immorality in the
nude." Whistler, who knew when ridicule served better than indignation,
wrote: "Art certainly requires no 'indignant protest' against the
unseemliness of senility. _Horsley soit qui mal y pense_ is meanwhile
a sweet sentiment--why more--and why 'morality'?" But the critic could
not understand, and he was discovered one day "walking in Pall Mall
with the nude on his arm."

The revenue of the Society had been rapidly decreasing, a deficit of
five hundred pounds had to be faced. To meet it Whistler proposed that
the luncheon to the Press be discontinued. It was an almost general
custom then to feast the critics at press views of picture exhibitions.
But in few was the cloth more lavishly spread than at the British
Artists', in few were boxes of cigars and whiskies-and-sodas placed so
conveniently. The younger critics resented it, the old ones lived for
it. Press day, the dreariest in the year at the Royal Academy, was the
most delightful at the British Artists', they said. Mr. Sidney Starr
tells a story of one, when Whistler had not hung his picture, but only
the frame:

"Telegrams were sent imploring the placing of the canvas. But the only
answer that came was, 'The Press have ye always with you; feed my
lambs.' A smoking-concert followed during the exhibition. At this, one
critic said to the Master, 'Your picture is not up to your mark, it is
not good this time.' 'You should not say it isn't good; you should say
you don't like it, and then, you know, you're perfectly safe; now come
and have something you do like, have some whisky,' said Whistler."

[Illustration: PORTRAITS OF MAUD

OIL (DESTROYED)

From photographs lent by Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

(_See page 206_)]

[Illustration: JUBILEE MEMORIAL

ILLUMINATION

In the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle

(_See page 264_)]

In the place of the luncheon, Whistler suggested a Sunday breakfast
when members should pay for themselves and their guests. But members
were horrified; his motion was lost.

In April 1886, Mr. William Graham's collection came up for auction at
Christie's. The sale brought to it the buyers and admirers of Rossetti,
Burne-Jones, Holman Hunt, many of whose pictures Graham had bought.
Whistler's _Nocturne in Blue and Silver (Blue and Gold), Old Battersea
Bridge_ belonged to him. When it appeared "there was a slight attempt
at an ironical cheer, which being mistaken for serious applause, was
instantly suppressed by an angry hiss all round," and it was sold for
sixty pounds to Mr. R. H. C. Harrison. Whistler acknowledged through
the _Observer_ (April 11, 1886), "the distinguished, though I fear
unconscious, compliment so publicly paid." Such recognition rarely, he
said, came to the painter during his lifetime, and to his friends he
spoke of it as an unheard-of success, the first time such a thing had
happened. The hisses in their ears, the British Artists were dismayed
by his one contribution to the Summer Exhibition of 1886. This was
a _Harmony in Blue and Gold_, a full-length of a girl in draperies
of blue and green, leaning against a railing and holding a parasol,
an arrangement, like the _Six Projects_, uniting classic design with
Japanese detail. The draperies were transparent, and to defy Horsley
and the British Matron was no part of the British Artists' policy. They
were doubtless the more shocked when they read the comments in the
Press. The most amusing revelation of British prudery, worth preserving
as typical, appeared in the _Court and Society Review_ (June 24, 1886)
in a letter, signed "A Country Collector," protesting against the
praise of Mr. Malcolm Salaman, who was the art critic of that paper:

"I am invited to gaze at an unfinished, rubbishy sketch of a young
woman, who, if she is not naked, ought to be, for she would then be
more decent.... The figure is more naked than nude: the colour what
there is of it, is distinctly unpleasant. For my part, sir, I will
not believe in Mr. Whistler; my daughters have commanded me to admire
him--I will _not_ admire him. How they can quietly stare at the
ill-painted, sooty-faced young woman in 'blue and gold' passes me. But
things are altered now, and my girls gaze with critical calmness and
carefully balanced _pince-nez_ on that which would have sent their
grandmothers shrieking from the gallery."

And Whistler, he declared, was a "poseur" and the picture "a colossal
piece of pyramidal impudence."

Whistler was not represented at the Grosvenor, and at the _Salon_ only
by the _Sarasate_, which went afterwards to the "XX" Club in Brussels.
His show in 1886 was at Messrs. Dowdeswell's Gallery. They exhibited
and published for him the _Set of Twenty-Six Etchings_, twenty-one of
the plates done in Venice, the other five in England, the price fifty
guineas. With the prints he issued the often-quoted _Propositions_,
the first series; the laws, as he defined them, of etching. He said
that in etching, as in every other art, the space covered should be in
proportion to the means used for covering it, and that the delicacy of
the needle demands the smallness of the plate; that the "Remarque,"
then in vogue, emanated from the amateur; that there should be no
margin to receive a "Remarque"; and that the habit of margin also came
from the outsider. For a few years these _Propositions_ were accepted
by artists. At the present time they are ignored or defied, and the
bigger the plate the better pleased is the etcher and his public. Later
in the year, in May, Messrs. Dowdeswell arranged in their gallery a
second series of _Notes--Harmonies--Nocturnes_. A few were in oil, a
few in pencil, but the larger number were pastels and water-colours.
They were studies of the nude, impressions of the sea at Dieppe and
Dover, St. Ives and Trouville, the little shops of London and Paris,
the skies and canals of Holland. Whistler decorated the room in Brown
and Gold, choosing the brown paper for the walls, designing the
mouldings of the dado. Mr. Walter Dowdeswell has the sketch of the
scheme in raw umber, yellow ochre, raw sienna, and white; he has also
preserved the brown-and-yellow hangings, and the yellow velarium. On
the cover for the mantelpiece, the Butterfly, placed to one side, is
without a sting. "Where is the sting?" Mr. Dowdeswell asked. "That,"
Whistler said, "is in my waistcoat pocket. I am keeping it for the
critics." The exhibition was received with mingled praise and blame,
and it would not have been a success financially had not Mr. H. S.
Theobald, K.C., purchased all that earlier buyers left on Messrs.
Dowdeswell's hands.

In the following summer Mr. Burr refused to stand again for the
Presidency, and at a General Meeting (June 1, 1886), Whistler was
elected. The excitement was intense. Whistler alone was calm and
unmoved. Mr. Ingram, a scrutineer, remembers coming for Whistler's
vote and being so excited that Whistler tried to reassure him: "Never
mind, never mind, you've done your best!" The meeting adjourned to
the Hogarth Club for supper. "_J'y suis, j'y reste_," Whistler wired
his brother. The comic papers were full of caricatures, the serious
papers of astonishment. He was hailed as "President Whistler" by his
friends, and denounced by members of the Society as an artist with no
claim to be called British. Younger painters rushed to his support,
and one French critic, Marcel Roland, prophesied that, "_l'oeuvre de
Whistler ne quittera son atelier que pour aller tout droit s'ennuyer à
jamais sur les murs des grandes salles du Louvre. La place est marquée
entre Paul Véronèse et Vélasquez._" It was suggested by Mr. Malcolm
Salaman that "all the rising young painters to whom we must look for
the future of British art will flock to the standard of Mr.--why not
Sir James--Whistler, rather than to that of Sir Frederick Leighton"--a
prophecy fulfilled in the early days of the International, while the
question as to whether Whistler would have accepted a knighthood has
lately been discussed. He would doubtlessly, could he have done so
without losing his American citizenship, but he would not have sold his
citizenship for it. Honorary rank and British orders could have been
conferred upon him, as they are often upon foreign politicians, social
nonentities, or useful financiers without loss of their citizenship.
But in British orders, as Lord Melbourne said of the Garter, "there is
no damn question of merit about it."

Whistler intended going to America in the fall, but the journey was
postponed. He wrote to the _World_ (October 13, 1886), "this is no time
for hesitation--one cannot continually disappoint a Continent," and he
settled down to the task of directing the fortunes of a Society which
looked to him for help, its members divided among themselves in their
confidence in him as President.



CHAPTER XXX: THE BRITISH ARTISTS. THE FALL. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY-SIX TO EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT.


According to the constitution of the British Artists the President,
though elected in June, does not take office until December. Whistler
presided for the first time on December 10, 1886, and from that day
he was supported devotedly by one faction and opposed fiercely by the
other.

For the Winter Exhibition (1886-87) he decorated the galleries with
the same care as his own shows. He put up a velarium, he covered the
walls with muslin. The muslin gave out, leaving a bare space under the
ceiling. "But what matter?" he said, "the battens are well placed, they
make good lines," and they became part of the decoration. He would
allow no crowding, the walls were to be the background of good pictures
well spaced, well arranged. He urged the virtue of rejection. Mr.
Starr says, "He was oblivious to every interest but the quality of the
work shown." He told Mr. Menpes, one of the Hanging Committee, "If you
are uncertain for a moment, say 'Out.' We want clean spaces round our
pictures. We want them to be seen. The British Artists' must cease to
be a shop."

This was resented. The modern exhibition is a shop, and as long as
most painters have their way a shop it will remain. He exhibited
_Nocturne in Brown and Gold_ (afterwards _Blue and Gold_), _St. Mark's,
Venice_--he told the members on varnishing day that it was his best;
_Harmony in Red: Lamplight_, Mrs. Godwin, and _Harmony in White and
Ivory_, Lady Colin Campbell, a beautiful portrait of a beautiful
woman, one of many that have disappeared. It was not finished when
Whistler sent it in, an excuse for dissatisfied members to propose its
removal. The question was not put to the meeting when the matter came
up, but a proposition to define the rights of the President and the
President-elect was carried.

One of Whistler's first acts was to offer to loan the Society five
hundred pounds to pay its debts. Mr. Starr describes him, "during this
time of fluctuating finances, pawning his large gold _Salon_ medal one
day, lending five hundred pounds to the British Artists the next. He
often found 'a long face and a short account at the Bank,' he said one
day."

He did everything he could to increase the prestige of the Society.
All that was charming was to be encouraged, all that was tedious was
to be done away with. He got distinguished artists to join: Charles
Keene, Alfred Stevens, and the more promising younger men. He allowed
several to call themselves in the catalogue "pupils of Whistler," and
to make drawings of the gallery and his pictures for the illustrated
papers. The sketches of _Sarasate_ in the _Pall Mall's Pictures of
1885_, and of _Harmony in Blue and Gold_, and his exhibition at
Dowdeswell's gallery in _Pictures of 1886_ are by him. But after this
Mr. Theodore Roussel, Mr. Walter Sickert, Mr. Sidney Starr made the
drawings for reproduction. He gave the Art Union, organised by the
Society, a plate, _The Fish Shop--Busy Chelsea_, one year, and another,
a painting done at St. Ives. In the March meeting (1887) he proposed
a limit of size for exhibits, he contributed twenty pounds towards
a scheme of decoration, and he presented four velvet curtains for
the doorways in the large room. There is a drawing, showing curtains
and velarium, by Mr. Roussel in the _Pall Mall's Pictures of 1887_.
Whistler's early _Nocturne in Blue and Gold, Valparaiso Bay_; _Nocturne
in Black and Gold, The Gardens_ (Cremorne); _Harmony in Grey, Chelsea
in Ice_, were hung, and with them his latest, _Arrangement in Violet
and Pink, Portrait of Mrs. Walter Sickert_. This is the first of the
two portraits he painted of Mrs. Sickert, and from her we learned that
it was destroyed.

Most of the members regarded the President's innovations as an
interference with their rights. He might pay their debts, that was one
thing; it was another to make their gallery beautiful by chucking their
pictures. Their resentment increased on the occasion of a visit from
the Prince of Wales. Whistler stayed late the day before to finish the
decoration. When the members came, doors and dados were painted yellow.
Whistler, with whom great fault was found, refused to have anything
further to do with the decorations, though they were unfinished. There
was fright carried that evening to a smoking-concert at the Hogarth
Club, where everybody was talking of the arrangement in yellow. He
was telegraphed for. "So discreet of you all at the Hogarth" was his
answer, and he did not appear until it was time to meet the Prince,
though in the meantime members tried to tone down the yellow. Whistler
told us:

"I went downstairs to meet the Prince. As we were walking up, I a
little in front with the Princess, the Prince, who always liked to be
well informed in these matters, asked what the Society was--Was it an
old institution? What was its history? 'Sir, it has none, its history
dates from to-day!' I said."

But the old members say that when the Prince went downstairs with one
of them his remark was: "Who is that funny little man we have been
talking to?"

The dissatisfaction was brought before a meeting, when a proposition
was made and passed "that the experiment of hanging pictures in an
isolated manner be discontinued," and that, in future, enough works be
accepted to cover the vacant space above and below the line--in fact,
that the gallery be hung as before. It is said that some members made
an estimate of the amount of wall-space left bare, and calculated the
loss in pounds, shillings and pence.

We saw this exhibition, though we did not see Whistler. We remember
the quiet, well-spaced walls, and the portrait of Mrs. Sickert, also
works by Dannat and William Stott. It should not be forgotten that the
British Artists' was arranged and hung by Whistler years before there
was any idea of artistic hanging in German Secessions--we believe,
before there were any Secessions. Whistler had applied to his own shows
the same method of spacing and hanging, and decorating the walls with
an appropriate colour-scheme. It had occurred to no one before him that
beautiful things should be shown beautifully, and it is not too much
to say that the attention given to-day to the artistic arrangement
of picture exhibitions is due entirely to Whistler. The resurrection
of the velarium, designed, made, and hung after his scheme, has
revolutionised the lighting of picture galleries, though in very few is
his scheme intelligently followed.

1887 was Queen Victoria's Jubilee, and every society of artists
prepared addresses to Her Majesty; Whistler could not permit his
Society to appear less ceremoniously loyal. His account to us was:

"Well, you know, I found that the Academy and the Institute and the
rest of them were preparing addresses to the Queen, and so I went to
work too, and I prepared a most wonderful address. Instead of the
illuminated performances for such occasions, I took a dozen folio
sheets of my old Dutch paper. I had them bound by Zaehnsdorf. First
came the beautiful binding in yellow morocco and the inscription to
Her Majesty, every word just in the right place--most wonderful. You
opened it, and on the first page you found a beautiful little drawing
of the royal arms that I made myself; the second page, an etching of
Windsor, as though 'there's where you live!' On the third page the
address began. I made decorations all round the text in water-colour,
at the top the towers of Windsor, down one side a great battleship
plunging through the waves, and below, the sun that never sets on the
British Empire--What? The following pages were not decorated, just the
most wonderful address, explaining the age and dignity of the Society,
its devotion to Her Glorious, Gracious Majesty, and suggesting the
honour it would be if this could be recognised by a title that would
show the Society to belong specially to Her. Then, the last page; you
turned, and there was a little etching of my house at Chelsea--'And
now, here's where I live!' And then you closed it, and at the back of
the cover was the Butterfly. This was all done and well on its way and
not a word was said to the Society, when the Committee wrote and asked
me if I would come to a meeting as they wished to consult me. It was
about an address to Her Majesty--all the other Societies were sending
them--and they thought they should too. I asked what they proposed
spending--they were aghast when I suggested that the guinea they
mentioned might not meet a twentieth of the cost. But, all the time,
my beautiful address was on its way to Windsor, and finally came the
Queen's acknowledgment and command that the Society should be called
Royal--I carried this to a meeting and it was stormy. One member got up
and protested against one thing and another, and declared his intention
of resigning. 'You had better make a note of it, Mr. Secretary,' I
said. And then I got up with great solemnity, and I announced the
honour conferred upon them by Her Gracious Majesty, and they jumped up
and they rushed towards me with outstretched hands. But I waved them
all off, and I continued with the ceremonial to which they objected.
For the ceremonial was one of their grievances. They were accustomed to
meet in shirt-sleeves--free-and-easy fashion which I would not stand.
Nor would I consent to what was the rule and tradition of the Society.
I would not, when I spoke, step down from the chair and stand up in
the body of the meeting, but I remained always where I was. But, the
meeting over, then I sent for champagne."

Whistler, as President of the British Artists, was invited to the
Jubilee ceremonies in Westminster Abbey, and in Mr. Lorimer's painting
he may be seen on one side of the triforium, Leighton on the other.
_Jubilee in the Abbey_, an etching, gives his impressions. He was asked
also to the State garden-party at Buckingham Palace, and to the Naval
Review off Spithead, when he made the _Naval Review_ series of plates
and at least one water-colour in a day. Naturally, when the Royal
Academy neglected to invite him to their _soirée_, though hitherto they
had always invited the President of the British Artists, he resented it
as an insult not only to himself, but to the Society. "It really was a
pretty little recognition of my own personality beneath the cloak of
office," he wrote in an often-quoted letter to Leighton, then President
of the Royal Academy.

The year before, Mr. Ayerst Ingram had proposed that the Society
should give a show of the President's work to precede their Summer
Exhibition of 1887. This had met with so many objections that though
the motion was not withdrawn as Whistler wanted, it was dropped. After
the new honours were obtained by him for the Society, and while he
was travelling in Belgium and Holland, an effort was made to revive
the scheme. Mr. Ingram did what he could. Mr. Walter Dowdeswell acted
as honorary secretary, guarantors were found, owners of pictures
were written to. February and March 1888 was the time appointed,
but Whistler doubted the sincerity of the Society and would not
risk anything less than an "absolute triumph of perfection" for an
undertaking made in the name of the British Artists or his own. To him
no success was worse than failure. At the end of September nothing
definite had been arranged, and Whistler told Mr. Ingram that his
"solitary evidence of active interest could hardly bring about a result
sufficient to excuse such an eleventh-hour effort."

He was right. The opposition in the Society was strong, and many
members were in open warfare with their President. They refused to
support him in his proposition that no member of the Society should
be, or should remain, a member of any other Society, and when he
followed this with the proposition that no member of the Royal Society
of British Artists who was a member of any other Society should
serve on the Selecting or Hanging Committee, they again defeated him.
Nor did they persuade him to reconsider the formal withdrawal, on
November 18, of his permission to show his works. He sent, however,
several water-colours and the twelve etchings of the _Naval Review_
to the Winter Exhibition (1887-88), and four lithographs from the
_Art Notes_ published that autumn by the Goupils. They were described
in the _Magazine of Art_ (December 1887) as mere lead pencil "notes
reproduced in marvellous _facsimile_," which gave Whistler his chance
for a courteous reminder in the _World_ to "the bewildered one." The
critic might inquire, he said; "the safe and well-conducted one informs
himself." Within the Society he had once more to contend against the
opposition to his hanging and spacing, and a fresh grievance was
that space was filled with the work of Monet, as yet hardly known
in England. One of the older members, when he looked at Whistler's
_Red Note_, declared, "If he can do that, I'll forgive him--he can
do anything." But few could forgive so easily. They objected that
"Whistler would have his way, and didn't mind if he made enemies in
getting it," and they began to whisper that in the matter of the
memorial he had been dictatorial. The situation is best described in
the words of Mr. Holmes to us: "With a little more of Disraeli and a
little less of Oliver Cromwell, Whistler would have triumphed."

The crisis came in April 1888, before the Summer Exhibition. It was
suggested that the Council communicate with the President as to the
removal of temporary decorations which he had designed and they had
paid for. One decoration the Society did not object to was a velarium,
since it meant no loss of wall-space, and when Whistler removed this
they ordered a new one. Whistler, through his secretary, explained to
the Committee that the velarium was his patent--"a patent taken out
by the Greeks and Romans" is Mr. Ingram's comment. Whistler got out
an injunction; when the Committee, with their order for the velarium,
hurried to Hampton's shop, his secretary was at their heels in a hansom
with the injunction; the secretary arrived with them at Liberty's, but
somehow they managed, in the end, to evade him. A velarium was made and
put up, and they proceeded to get rid of their President. At a meeting
on May 7 a letter, signed by eight members whose names do not appear
in the minutes, was read, asking President Whistler to call a meeting
to request Mr. James A. McNeill Whistler to resign his membership
in the Society, and he called the meeting and signed the minutes.
The President made a speech, in which he claimed that his action in
the matter of the velarium was not inimical to the welfare of the
Society, but the speech was not recorded. He permitted no one to speak
in opposition, and the subject was dropped. At the special meeting
called by him the same month there was an exhaustive discussion.
Whistler declared his position. His opponents presented an array of
lawyer's letters, which they said showed that Whistler had threatened
injunctions, had greatly impeded the Executive in the decoration of
the galleries, and had influenced many distinguished people to keep
away from the private view. A vote was taken for his expulsion, though
Mr. Ingram proposed a vote of censure in its place. Whistler refused
at first to put the motion to expel himself, but finally was compelled
to do so. There were eighteen votes for, nineteen against it, and nine
members did not vote. The votes, Whistler said, when he addressed the
meeting after the ballot, showed that the Society approved of his
action. Mr. Francis James at once proposed a vote of censure on those
who had signed the letter, but this was not carried. On June 4, at the
annual election, when a whip had been sent round to all members, Wyke
Bayliss was elected President, and Whistler resigned from the Society,
congratulating the members on the election: "Now, at last, you must be
satisfied. You can no longer say you have the right man in the wrong
place!"

Mr. Starr recalls his saying: "Now I understand the feelings of all
those who, since the world began, have tried to save their fellow men."

The minority resigned, as Mr. Menpes, foreseeing the inevitable, had
a month earlier, which led to Whistler's comment on "the early rat
who leaves the sinking ship." All who had joined the Society with him
left it with him, and he said "the Artists came out and the British
remained."

Mr. Menpes describes a supper of the Artists after the meeting at the
Hogarth Club. He says he was taken back into favour, and joined the
party. "What are you going to do with them all?" he asked. "Lose them,"
said Whistler. But he did not lose them all. One or two stayed by him
to the end.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF LADY MEUX

HARMONY IN PINK AND GREY

OIL

In the possession of H. C. Finch, Esq.

(_See page 211_)]

[Illustration: THE SALUTE, VENICE

WATER-COLOUR

In the possession of B. B. MacGeorge, Esq.

(_See page 202_)]

Whistler, according to the constitution, held office till December,
and till December he retained his post. During this time there were
meetings. At one he addressed Bayliss as Baily--to his disgust--but,
on this occasion at least, Bayliss had an idea and replied, "Yes, Mr.
Whistle!" At a meeting on November 28 Whistler made a statement of
his relations with the Society, and his objects and aims concerning
it, only referred to in the minutes, and he gave up the chair to Wyke
Bayliss. He had been President two years, a member four. After November
28, 1888, his name appears in the official records only twice: first
on January 4, 1889, in connection with a dispute over the notice board
outside the gallery, and then on July 20, 1903, when Wyke Bayliss
stated "that, acting on the feeling that it would be the wish of the
Society, he had ordered a wreath to be sent in the name of the Society
on the occasion of the funeral of Mr. Whistler."

The newspapers were not so shy of the President as the minute-books.
The difference between Whistler and the Society found the publicity
which he could never escape. He said to the men who resigned with him,
"Come and make history for posterity," and, as usual, he saw that the
record was accurate. He had hardly left the Society when the notice
board, with the Butterfly and the lion which he had painted, was
altered; he immediately wrote a letter to state the fact in the _Pall
Mall Gazette_. Reporters and interviewers gave the British Artists'
reasons for their late President's resignation and his successor's
qualifications for the post. Whistler lost no time in explaining his
position and giving his estimate of the new President. It cannot be
said too often that his letters to the Press, criticised as trivial and
undignified, were written deliberately that "history might be made."
Many pages of _The Gentle Art_ are filled with his relations with the
British Artists. The gaiety of his letters was mistaken for flippancy,
because the more solemn and ponderous the "enemies" became, the more
"joyous" he grew in disposing of them. He did not spare the British
Artists. The _Pall Mall_ undertook to describe the disaster of the
"Whistlerian policy" in Suffolk Street by statistics and to extol the
strength of Wyke Bayliss:

"The sales of the Society during the year 1881 were under five
thousand pounds; 1882, under six thousand; 1883, under seven thousand;
1884, under eight thousand; 1885 (the first year of Mr. Whistler's
rule), they fell to under four thousand; 1885, under three thousand;
1887, under two thousand; and the present year, 1888, under one
thousand.... The new President ... is ... the hero of three Bond Street
'one-man exhibitions,' a board-school chairman, a lecturer, champion
chess-player of Surrey, a member of the Rochester Diocesan Council, a
Shakespearean student, a Fellow of the Society of Cyclists, a Fellow of
the Society of Antiquarians, and public orator of Noviomagus."

Whistler's answer, serious in intention, gay in wording, pointed out
"the, for once, not unamusing 'fact' that the disastrous and simple
Painter Whistler only took in hand the reins of government at least a
year after the former driver had been pitched from his box and half the
money-bags had been already lost! From eight thousand to four thousand
at one fatal swoop! and the beginning of the end had set in!... 'Four
thousand pounds!' down it went; three thousand pounds, two thousand
pounds--the figures are Wyke's--and this season, the ignominious 'one
thousand pounds or under' is none of my booking! And when last I saw
the mad machine it was still cycling down the hill."

Whistler was disappointed, though he did not show it. He was seldom
invited to join anything, nor did he rush to accept the rare
invitation. He would take no part in the Art Congress started in the
eighties, despite an effort to entangle him; he would do no more than
"bestow his benison" upon the movement in 1886 to organise a National
Art Exhibition, led by Walter Crane, Holman Hunt, and George Clausen.
But to the British Artists he had given his time and energy during four
years, he had dragged the Society out of the slough in which it was
floundering and made its exhibitions the most distinguished and most
talked-about in London. Wyke Bayliss, who never understood him, wrote:
"Whistler's purpose was to make the British Artists a small, esoteric
set; mine was to make it a great guild of the working artists of this
country."

Whistler said: "I wanted to make the British Artists an art centre;
they wanted to remain a shop."

Wyke Bayliss and his successor were knighted, as Presidents of Royal
Societies usually are; Whistler, who obtained the title and charter of
the Society, was ignored.

Ten years later, as President of the International Society of
Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers, he not only recommended, but carried
out his schemes and theories: the decoration of the galleries, the
refusal of bad work no matter who sent it, the proper hanging of the
pictures accepted, the making of the exhibitions into artistic events,
the interesting of the public in them, the insistence that each artist
should only support his own Society's exhibitions and should belong to
no other Society. He was dictatorial, but without a dictator nothing
can be done, and at the British Artists each British Artist wanted
to lead. His Presidency began in mistrust and ended in discord. For
Whistler it had an advantage, especially abroad, where artists began to
regard him with deference.



CHAPTER XXXI: MARRIAGE. THE YEAR EIGHTEEN EIGHTY-EIGHT.


"I don't marry," Whistler said, "though I tolerate those who do." But
before he left the British Artists' he did marry. His wife was Beatrix
Godwin, widow of E. W. Godwin, the architect of the White House and for
years Whistler's champion in the Press. Godwin died on October 6, 1886,
and Whistler married on August 11, 1888.

Mrs. Whistler was the daughter of John Birnie Philip, remembered as
one of the sculptors who worked on the awful Albert Memorial. She was
large, so that Whistler was dwarfed beside her, dark and handsome,
more foreign in appearance, but not in person, than English. Whistler
delighted in a tradition that there was gipsy blood in her family.
She had studied art in Paris and with him, and he was proud of her as
a pupil. Her work included several decorative designs, and a series
of etchings made to illustrate the English edition of Van Eeden's
_Little Johannes_. Only a few of the plates were finished, and of these
some proofs were shown in the first exhibition of the International
Society and in the Paris Memorial Exhibition, while Mr. Heinemann had
the intention of publishing a series of illustrations which she and
Whistler drew on the wood.

Mr. Labouchere held himself responsible for the marriage, and told the
story in _Truth_ (July 23, 1903):

"I believe that I am responsible for his marriage to the widow of Mr.
Godwin, the architect. She was a remarkably pretty woman and very
agreeable, and both she and he were thorough Bohemians. I was dining
with them and some others one evening at Earl's Court. They were
obviously greatly attracted to each other, and in a vague sort of way
they thought of marrying. So I took the matter in hand to bring things
to a practical point. 'Jemmy,' I said, 'will you marry Mrs. Godwin?'
'Certainly,' he replied. 'Mrs. Godwin,' I said, 'will you marry Jemmy?'
'Certainly,' she replied. 'When?' I asked. 'Oh, some day,' said
Whistler. 'That won't do,' I said, 'we must have a date.' So they both
agreed that I should choose the day, what church to come to for the
ceremony, provide the clergyman, and give the bride away. I fixed an
early date, and got the then Chaplain of the House of Commons [the Rev.
Mr. Byng] to perform the ceremony. It took place a few days later.

"After the ceremony was over, we adjourned to Whistler's studio, where
he had prepared a banquet. The banquet was on the table, but there were
no chairs. So we sat on packing-cases. The happy pair, when I left, had
not quite decided whether they would go that evening to Paris or remain
in the studio. How unpractical they were was shown when I happened to
meet the bride the day before the marriage in the street:

"'Don't forget to-morrow,' I said. 'No,' she replied, 'I am just going
to buy my trousseau.' 'A little late for that, is it not?' I asked.
'No,' she answered, 'for I am only going to buy a new toothbrush and a
new sponge, as one ought to have new ones when one marries.'"

The wedding took place at St. Mary Abbott's, Kensington, in the
presence of Dr. and Mrs. Whistler, one of Mrs. Godwin's sisters, Mrs.
Whibley, and three or four others. Mr. Labouchere gave the bride away
and Mr. Jopling-Rowe was best man. Whistler had recently left 454
Fulham Road and the Vale, with its memories of Maud, for the Tower
House, Tite Street, and the suddenness of his marriage gave no time
to put things in order. There were not only packing-cases in the
dining-room--usually one of the first rooms furnished in every house
he moved into--but the household was in most respects unprepared for
the reception of a bride. The wedding breakfast was ordered from the
Café Royal, and the bride's sister hurriedly got a wedding cake from
Buszard's.

The rest of the summer and autumn was spent in France, part of the time
in Boulogne. Mr. and Mrs. Cole, on

"_August 27_ (1888). Met Jimmy and his wife on the sands: they came up
with us to Rue de la Paix, down to bathe. Jimmy sketching on sands; the
W.'s turned up after lunch. With Jimmy to the iron and rag _marché_
near Boulevard Prince Albert [no doubt in search of old paper as well
as of subjects]. He sketched (water-colours) a dingy shop. Later we
dined with them at the Casino. Pleasant _parti à quatre_. Jimmy in
excellent form. Leaving to-morrow."

From Boulogne they went to Touraine, stopping at Chartres, most of
the time lost to their friends, as they intended to be lost. It was
Whistler's first holiday. He was taking it lazily, he wrote to Mrs.
William Whistler, in straw hat and white shoes, rejoicing in the grapes
and melons, getting the pleasure out of it that France always gave him.
But he got more than pleasure. He brought back to London about thirty
plates of Tours and Loches and Bourges, and settled down in London to
wind up his connection with the British Artists'.

Whistler was devoted to his wife, who henceforth occupied a far more
prominent position in his life than could have been imagined. Indeed
his life was entirely changed by his marriage. He went less into
society and had less time for his art. During months he was a wanderer,
and while he wandered his painting stopped. Not that Mrs. Whistler was
indifferent to art. She was sympathetic. He liked to have her in the
studio; when she could not come he brought the pictures he was painting
home for her to see. He consulted her in his difficulties, she shared
his troubles, she rejoiced in his triumphs. But it cannot be denied
that the period of great schemes came to an end with his marriage.
Although later he painted exquisite pictures, there are no canvases
like the _Mother_ and _Carlyle_, the _Sarasate_ and _The Yellow
Buskin_. This was no doubt the result partly of his pleasure in his new
domestic conditions, partly of circumstances that prevented him from
remaining long enough in one place for continuous work to be possible.
An artist must give himself entirely to his work, or else have a very
different temperament from Whistler's. After a year or so in London and
two or three happy years in Paris which Mrs. Whistler said she did not
deserve, her health necessitated wandering again.

Commissions at last came, but Mrs. Whistler's illness left him no
chance to carry them out. He said to us one day: "Now, they want these
things; why didn't they want them twenty years ago, when I wanted to do
them, and could have done them? And they were just as good twenty years
ago as they are now."

Few large portraits begun during these years were completed. And after
his wife's death he struggled in vain to return to the old conditions
of continuous effort to which the world owes his greatest masterpieces.
It is true that his work never deteriorated till the last, that, as he
said, he brought it ever nearer to the perfection which alone could
satisfy him. He never produced anything finer in their way than _The
Master Smith_ and _The Little Rose of Lyme Regis_, painted towards
the end of his married life, or the series of children's heads of his
latest years. But these were planned on a smaller scale and required
less physical effort than the large full-lengths and the decorative
designs he longed to execute, but was never able to finish, sometimes
not even to begin. Whistler, with advancing years, became more sure
of himself, more the master, but circumstances forced him to find his
pleasure and exercise his knowledge in smaller work.



CHAPTER XXXII: THE WORK OF THE YEARS EIGHTEEN EIGHTY TO EIGHTEEN
NINETY-TWO.


These years were full, for though few large paintings were completed,
there were many small oils, water-colours, pastels, etchings, and
lithographs. Whistler, going and coming in England or on the Continent,
had trunks and bags with compartments for his colours, plates, and
lithographic materials. It is impossible to say, he did not know, the
exact number of small works he produced during this period.

He had used water-colour since his school-days, but, until he went to
Venice, not to any extent. Some of the Venetian drawings show that he
was then scarcely master of it. But the results he finally got, both in
figure and landscape, were admirable. He touched perfection in many
a little angry sea at Dieppe, or note in Holland, or impression of
Paris. As not many are dated it may never be known when this mastery
was reached. He probably would not have been sure of the dates. We
have gone through drawers of the cabinet in his studio with him, when
he expressed the utmost surprise on finding certain things that he had
forgotten, and was unable to say when they were painted or drawn. He
suffered from this confusion and realised the importance of making a
complete list of his works, with their dates and there were various
projects and commencements. After several attempts he found it took too
much time. We know that he asked Mr. Freer to trace his pictures in
America and Mr. D. Croal Thomson to do the same in England. Miss Birnie
Philip finally swore in the Law Courts that what he wanted was for us
to prepare a complete catalogue.

Between 1880 and 1892 he made ninety plates in England. They begin
with _Regent's Quadrant_. Then follow little shops in Chelsea, Gray's
Inn, Westminster, the Wild West (Earl's Court), Whitechapel, Sandwich,
the Jubilee, and many figure subjects. There is also the _Swan and
Iris_, the copy of an unfinished picture by Cecil Lawson for Mr. Edmund
Gosse's _Memoir_ of the painter (1883), another unsuccessful attempt
at reproduction. It was the only plate, since those published by the
Junior Etching Club, made as an illustration _Billingsgate_ was issued
in the _Portfolio_ (1878) and Hamerton's _Etching and Etchers_ (1880),
_Alderney Street_ in the _Gazette des Beaux-Arts_ (1881), _La Marchande
de Moutarde_ in _English Etchings_ (1888), but these were etched with
no idea of their publication in magazine or book.

The English plates are simple in subject, and they have been therefore
dismissed as unimportant by unimportant people. But many are
delightfully composed and full of observation. Whistler carrying the
small plates about with him, sketched on copper, with the knowledge of
a lifetime, the subjects he found as other artists sketch on paper.
Three etchings were made at the Wild West probably in an afternoon;
one at Westminster Abbey during the Jubilee Service of 1887; and ten
to thirteen of the Jubilee Naval Review in a day--plates that prove
triumphantly his power of giving his impressions with a few lines of
his etching-needle.

In the autumn of 1887 he went to Belgium with Dr. and Mrs. William
Whistler, stopping at Brussels, Ostend, and Bruges. In Brussels he
etched the Hôtel de Ville, the Guildhalls, the little shops and streets
and courts, intending to issue the prints as a set. M. Octave Maus, who
knew him, says "he was enchanted with the picturesque and disreputable
quarter of _les Marolles_ in the old town. He was frequently to be met
in the alleys which pour a squalid populace into the old High Street,
engaged in scratching on the copper his impressions of the swarming
life around him. When the inquisitive throng pressed him too hard,
the artist merely pointed his graver at the arm, or neck, or cheek of
one of the intruders. The threatening weapon, with his sharp spiteful
laugh, put them at once to flight."

Sometimes Dr. and Mrs. Whistler found him, safe out of the way of the
crowd, in the bandstand of the Grande Place, where several of the
plates were made. These are another development in technique. With the
fewest, the most delicate, lines he expressed the most complicated and
the most picturesque architecture. The plates were probably bitten with
little stopping-out, and they are printed with a sharpness that shows
their wonderful drawing. M. Duret has said to us that in them Whistler
gives "_les os de l'architecture_." A very few proofs were pulled. The
set was never issued.

The etchings described as in Touraine are those done on his wedding
journey and at other times. They also have never been published as a
set. As in Belgium, great architecture suggested his subjects, and
his treatment shows that if, as a rule, he refrained from rendering
architecture, it was from no desire to evade difficulties, as ignorant
critics suppose. The line is more vital and the biting more powerful
than in the Belgian plates.

The year after his marriage (1889) he etched seventeen plates in and
around Dordrecht and Amsterdam, including _Nocturne--Dance House_,
_The Embroidered Curtain_, _The Balcony_, _Zaandam_, in which he
surpassed Rembrandt in Rembrandt's subject. His success is the more
surprising because scarcely anywhere does the artist sketch under such
difficulties as in Holland. The little Dutch boys are the worst in the
world, and the grown people as bad. In Amsterdam, the women in the
houses on one of the canals, where Whistler worked in a boat, emptied
buckets of water out of the windows above him. He dodged in time, but
had to call on the police, and, he told us, the next interruption was
a big row above, and "I looked up, dodging the filthy pails, to see
the women vanishing backward being carried off to wherever they carry
people in Holland. After that, I had no more trouble, but I always had
a policeman whenever I had a boat."

[Illustration: THE YELLOW BUSKIN ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK

OIL

In the Wilstach Collection, Memorial Hall, Philadelphia

(_See page 215_)]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF M. THÉODORE DURET

ARRANGEMENT IN FLESH-COLOUR AND PINK

OIL

In the Metropolitan Museum, New York

(_See page 217_)]

In the Dutch plates he returned to the methods perfected at Venice in
_The Traghetto_ and _The Beggars_. After he brought them back to London
he was interviewed on the subject in the _Pall Mall Gazette_ (March 4,
1890), and is reported to have said:

"First you see me at work on the Thames. Now, there you see the crude
and hard detail of the beginner. So far, so good. There, you see,
all is sacrificed to exactitude of outline. Presently and almost
unconsciously I begin to criticise myself and to feel the craving of
the artist for form and colour. The result was the second stage, which
my enemies call inchoate and I call Impressionism. The third state I
have shown you. In that I have endeavoured to combine stages one and
two. You have the elaboration of the first stage and the quality of the
second."

Though we hesitate to accept the words as his, this is an interesting
statement and a suggestive description. In some of the Dutch plates
there is more detail than in the Venetian, and yet form is expressed
not by the detail of the Thames series but by line. No etcher had got
such fullness of colour without a mass of cross-hatching that takes
away from the freshness. It is interesting to contrast his distant
views of the town of Amsterdam and the windmills of Zaandam with
Rembrandt's etchings of the same subjects, and to note the greater
feeling of space and distance that Whistler gives. The work is more
elaborate and delicate than in previous plates, so delicate sometimes
that it seems under-bitten. But his method necessitated this. He drew
with such minuteness that hardly any of the ground, the varnish, was
left on the plates, and when he bit them, he could only bite slightly
to prevent the modelling from being lost. He never had been so
successful in applying his scientific theories to etching, and rarely
more satisfied with the results. His first idea was to publish the
prints in a set, through the Fine Art Society, but the Fine Art Society
were so foolish as to refuse. A few were bought at once for the South
Kensington and Windsor Collections, and several were shown in the
spring of 1890 at Mr. Dunthorne's gallery. About this time we returned
to London, and J. commenced to write occasionally in the London Press,
succeeding Mr. George Bernard Shaw as art critic on the _Star_. This is
his impression, written when he saw them (April 8):

"I stepped in at Dunthorne's the other afternoon to have a look at the
etchings of Amsterdam by Mr. Whistler. There are only eight of them,
I think, but they are eight of the most exquisite renderings by the
most independent man of the century. With two exceptions they are only
studies of very undesirable lodgings and tenements on canal banks,
old crumbling brick houses reflected in sluggish canals, balconies
with figures leaning over them, clothes hanging in decorative lines,
a marvellously graceful figure carelessly standing in the great
water-door of an overhanging house, every figure filled with life
and movement, and all its character expressed in half a dozen lines.
The same houses, or others, at night, their windows illuminated and
casting long trailing reflections in the water, seemed to be singularly
unsuccessful, the plate being apparently underbitten or played out.
At any rate that was the impression produced on me. [We know now and
have explained the reason for this.] Another there was, of a stretch of
country looking across a canal, windmills beyond drawn as no one since
Rembrandt could have done it, and in his plate the greatest of modern
etchers has pitted himself against the greatest of the ancients, and
has come through only too successfully for Rembrandt. There are three
or four others, I understand, not yet published, but this certainly
is the gem so far. The last is a great drawbridge, with a suggestion
of trees and houses, figures and boats, and a tower in the distance,
done, I believe, from a canal in Amsterdam. This is the fourth
distinct series of etchings which Mr. Whistler has in the last thirty
or thirty-five years given the world: the early miscellaneous French
and English plates; the Thames series, valued by artists more than by
collectors, though even to the latter they are worth more than their
weight in gold; the Venetian plates; and now these; and between while,
portraits as full of character as Rembrandt's, studies of London and
Brussels, and I know not what else besides have come from his ever busy
needle. Had Mr. Whistler never put brush to canvas, he has done enough
in these plates to be able to say that he will not altogether die."

That was J.'s opinion then, and he has not had to change it. During
1890 Whistler made a large number of lithographs, excellently
catalogued by T. R. Way, who printed most of them and was,
consequently, qualified for the task. Three, _The Winged Hat_, _The
Tyresmith_, and _Maunder's Fish Shop, Chelsea_, were published this
year in the short-lived occasional weekly _The Whirlwind_, edited by
Herbert Vivian and Stuart Erskine "in the Legitimist cause" and to
their own great amusement. Drawings by Sidney Starr after three of
Whistler's pictures appeared, and the editors boasted in their own
pages within a few weeks that the lithographs, issued for a penny,
could be had only for five shillings. Five guineas would now be nearer
the price.

Another lithograph, _Chelsea Rags_, came out in the January number
(1892) of the _Albemarle_, a monthly edited by Hubert Crackanthorpe and
W. H. Wilkins, one of those gay experiments in periodical literature no
longer made in this sad land. The four were called _Songs on Stone_,
the later title for a proposed portfolio of lithographs in colour which
Mr. Heinemann announced but never issued.



CHAPTER XXXIII: HONOURS. EXHIBITIONS. NEW INTERESTS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN
EIGHTY-NINE TO EIGHTEEN NINETY-ONE.


Official recognition of Whistler in England was followed by official
honours abroad. While President of the British Artists he was asked
for the first time to show in the International Exhibition at Munich
(1888). He sent _The Yellow Buskin_ and was awarded a second-class
medal. The best comment was Whistler's letter of acknowledgment to the
Secretary, whom he prayed to convey to the Committee his "sentiments
of tempered and respectable joy" and "complete appreciation of the
second-hand compliment." But soon after he was elected an Honorary
Member of the Bavarian Royal Academy, and, a year later, was given a
first-class medal and the Cross of St. Michael. In 1889 he was made
Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and received a first-class medal at
the Paris Universal Exhibition. Another gold medal was awarded to him
at Amsterdam, where he was showing the _Mother_, _The Fur Jacket_,
and _Effie Deans--Arrangement in Yellow and Grey_. We have heard that
Israels and Mesdag, who were little in sympathy with Whistler, objected
to giving him a medal, but James Maris insisted. The year before
Mr. E. J. Van Wisselingh had bought from Messrs. Dowdeswell _Effie
Deans_, which he had seen in the Edinburgh International Exhibition
of 1886, though it was skied. He sold it within a short time to Baron
Van Lynden, of The Hague, then making his collection, bequeathed by
the Baroness Van Lynden in 1900 to the Rijks Museum at Amsterdam. The
picture is almost the only one to which Whistler gave a literary title,
except the pastel _Annabel Lee_. _Effie Deans_ is apparently a portrait
of Maud, and it belongs to the period of _The Fur Jacket_ and _Rosa
Corder_. The Butterfly was added later. The painting was not signed
when bought by Baron Van Lynden, who, hearing from Van Wisselingh
that Whistler was in Holland, asked him to sign it. Whistler not only
did so, but we believe then added the quotation from the _Heart of
Midlothian_ written at the bottom of the canvas: "She sunk her head
upon her hand and remained seemingly unconscious as a statue," the only
inscription on any of his paintings that we have seen. Walter Sickert
says that it was added by some one else, but as Whistler saw the
picture in 1902 and made no objection to it, Mr. Sickert's statement
scarcely seems correct.

Few things pleased Whistler more than the honours from Amsterdam,
Munich, and Paris. To celebrate the Bavarian medal and decoration
his friends gave him a dinner at the Criterion, May 1, 1889. Mr.
E. M. Underdown, Q.C., was in the chair, and Mr. W. C. Symons hon.
secretary. Two Royal Academicians, Sir W. Q. Orchardson and Mr. Alfred
Gilbert, were present, and also Sir Coutts Lindsay, Stuart Wortley,
Edmund Yates--Atlas, who never failed him--and many others. Whistler
was moved, and not ashamed to show it. Stuart Wortley, in a speech,
said that Whistler had influenced every artist in England; Orchardson
described him as "a true artist"; and this time Atlas spoke, not only
with the weight of the _World_ on his shoulders, but with praise and
affection. Whistler began his speech with a laugh at this "age of rapid
results when remedies insist upon their diseases." But his voice is
said to have been full of emotion before the end:

"You must feel that, for me, it is no easy task to reply under
conditions of which I have so little habit. We are all even too
conscious that mine has hitherto, I fear, been the gentle answer that
sometimes turneth not away wrath.... It has before now been borne
in upon me that in surroundings of antagonism I may have wrapped
myself for protection in a species of misunderstanding, as that other
traveller drew closer about him the folds of his cloak the more
bitterly the winds and the storm assailed him on his way. But, as with
him, when the sun shone upon him in his path, his cloak fell from his
shoulders, so I, in the warm glow of your friendship, throw from me
all former disguise, and, making no further attempt to hide my true
feeling, disclose to you my deep emotion at such unwonted testimony of
affection and faith."

This was the only public testimonial he ever received in England,
and one of the few public functions at which he assisted. He seldom
attended public dinners, those solemn feasts of funeral baked meats
by which "the Islander soothes his conscience and purchases public
approval." We remember that he did not appear at the first dinner of
the Society of Authors, where his place was beside ours--a dinner given
to American authors, at which Lowell presided. J. recalls an artists'
dinner at which Whistler was seated on one side of the chairman and
Charles Keene on the other. Some brilliant person had placed Sir
Frederick Wedmore next to Whistler, who had more fun at the dinner than
the critic. He rarely was seen in the City, and rarely was asked in
Paris. As an outsider, he was never invited to the Academy. Even little
private functions, like the Johnson Club, to which J. has taken him, he
did not care for. It is so easy to be bored, so difficult to be amused,
on such occasions. He preferred not to run the risk.

Of gentle answers that turn not away wrath there were plenty in 1889.
At the Universal Exhibition in Paris, Whistler, an American, naturally
proposed to show with Americans. _The Yellow Buskin_ and _The Balcony_
were the pictures he selected; he sent twenty-seven etchings, knowing
that, in a big exhibition, a few prints make no effect. The official
acknowledgment was a printed notice from General Rush C. Hawkins,
"Cavalry Officer," Commissioner for the American Art Department:
"Sir,--Ten of your exhibits have not received the approval of the jury.
Will you kindly remove them?"

Whistler's answer was an immediate journey to Paris, a call on General
Hawkins, the withdrawal of all his prints and pictures, to the
General's embarrassment. Whistler wrote afterwards to the _New York
Herald_, Paris edition: "Had I been properly advised that the room was
less than the demand for place, I would, of course, have instantly
begged the gentlemen of the jury to choose, from among the number, what
etchings they pleased."

Twenty-seven etchings, unless specially invited, were rather a
large number to send to any exhibition. He had been already asked
to contribute to the British Section, and to it he now took the
two pictures and ten prints. Though General Hawkins' action is as
incomprehensible as his appointment to such a post, Whistler made a
mistake. There is no doubt that, had his seventeen accepted prints
remained in the American Section, he would have had a much better
show than in the English, where only ten were hung and where, for
etching, Seymour Haden, and not Whistler, was awarded a _Grand
Prix_. "Whistler's Grievance" got into the papers, and the letters
and interviews remain in _The Gentle Art_. If in 1889 he identified
himself with the British, it was due solely to the discourtesy, as
he considered it, of his countrymen. There was no denial of his
nationality, and, though later always invited to show in the British
Section of International Exhibitions, he always refused when there was
an American Section.

In 1888 the New Gallery took over the played-out traditions of the
Grosvenor, but Whistler did not follow to Regent Street. His _Carlyle_,
several drawings, and many etchings went to the Glasgow International
Exhibition that year, and he was well represented at the first show
of the Pastel Society at the Grosvenor. He was more in sympathy with
the New English Art Club than any other group of artists. It was then
youthful and enthusiastic, most of the younger men of promise or talent
belonged, and it might have accomplished great things had its founders
been faithful to their original ambition. Whistler was never a member,
but he sent a _White Note_ and the etching of the _Grande Place,
Brussels_, to the exhibition in 1888, and _Rose and Red_, a pastel, in
1889, when he was elected by the votes of the exhibitors to the jury.
To the infinite loss of the club he never showed again. In the same
year (1889), at the Institute of the Fine Arts at Glasgow, the _Mother_
strengthened the impression made by the _Carlyle_ the year before;
there was a show of his work in May at the College of Working Women in
Queen Square, London; and _The Grey Lady_ was included in an exhibition
at the Art Institution, Chicago, in the fall.

The show at Queen Square was remarkable. It is said to have been
"organised by Mr. Walter Sickert, by permission of Miss Goold (head of
the College), and opened by Lord Halsbury." There had not been such a
representative collection of his work since his exhibition of 1874.
The _Mother_, _Carlyle_, _Rosa Corder_, _Irving_ were there, many
pastels and water-colours, and many etchings of all periods from the
Thames Series to the last in Touraine and Belgium. We have never seen
a catalogue. We remember how it impressed us when we came to the fine
Queen Anne house in the quiet, out-of-the-way square, how indignant we
were to find nobody but a solitary man and a young lady at the desk,
and how urgently we wrote in the _Star_ that, "if there were as many
as half a dozen people who cared for good work, they should go at
once to see this exhibition of the man who has done more to influence
artists than any modern." There is a legend of Whistler's coming one
day, taking a picture from the wall and walking away with it, despite
the protest of the attendant and the Principal of the College, wishing,
so the legend goes, to carry out the theory he was soon to assert that
pictures were only "kindly lent their owners." But the story of his
making off with it across the square, followed by the college staff
screaming "Stop thief!" and being nearly run in by a policeman, is
a poor invention. His desire, however, to keep his pictures in his
possession, his hope that those who bought them would not dispose of
them, was growing, and his disgust when they were sold, especially at
increased prices, was expressed in his answer to some one who said,
"Staats Forbes tells me that that picture of yours he has will be the
last picture he will ever part with." "H'm," said Whistler, who had had
later news, "it is the last picture he has."

In March 1890 Whistler moved to No. 21 Cheyne Walk, an old house with
a garden at the back, farther down the Embankment, close to Rossetti's
Tudor House. It was panelled from the street door to the top. A cool
scheme of blue and white decorated the dining-room, where there was one
perfect painting over the mantel, and, Mr. Francis James has told us,
the _Six Projects_ hung for a while on the walls. The drawing-room on
the first floor was turned into a studio, there was a bedroom above,
but the rest of the house was empty and bare. From M. Gérard Harry we
have an explanation of this bareness:

"I remember a striking remark of Whistler's at a garden-party in his
Chelsea house. As he caught me observing some incompletely furnished
rooms and questioning within myself whether he had occupied the house
more than a fortnight or so: 'You see,' he said, with his short laugh,
'I do not care for definitely settling down anywhere. Where there is
no more space for improvement, or dreaming about improvement, where
mystery is in perfect shape, it is _finis_--the end--death. There is
no hope, nor outlook left.' I do not vouch for the words, but that was
certainly the sense of a remark which struck me as offering a key to
much of Whistler's philosophy, and to one aspect of his original art."

On September 24, 1890, Mr. Cole, calling at Cheyne Walk, "found him
painting some excellent portraits--very strong and fine." What all
these were it is difficult to say, though one was the well-known
_Harmony in Black and Gold--Comte Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac_,
Whistler's fourth portrait of a man in evening dress. Another may have
been the second portrait never finished, which Montesquiou described
to Edmond de Goncourt, who made a note of it in his _Journal_ (July 7,
1891):

"Montesquiou tells me that Whistler is now doing two portraits of him:
one is in evening dress, with a fur cloak over his arm, the other in a
great grey cloak with a high collar, and, just suggested, a necktie of
a mauve not to be put into words, though his eyes express the colour
of it. And Montesquiou is most interesting to listen to as he explains
the method of painting of Whistler, to whom he gave seventeen sittings
during the month spent in London. The first sketch-in of his subject is
with Whistler a fury, a passion: one or two hours of this wild fever
and the subject emerges complete in its envelope. Then sittings, long
sittings, when, most of the time, the brush is brought close to the
canvas but does not touch it, is thrown away, and another taken, and
sometimes in three hours not more than fifty touches are given to the
canvas, every touch, according to Whistler, lifting a veil from the
sketch.

"Oh, sittings! when it seemed to Montesquiou that Whistler, by that
intentness of observation, was draining from him his life, something of
his individuality, and, in the end, he was so exhausted that he felt
as if all his being was shrinking away, but happily he discovered a
certain _vin de coca_ that restored him after those terrible sittings."

J. went only once to No. 21 Cheyne Walk. Then it was to consult
Whistler concerning Sir Hubert von Herkomer's publication of
photogravures of pen-drawings in _An Idyl_, and description of them
as etchings. Whistler received J. in the white-panelled dining-room,
where he was breakfasting on an egg. Sickert came in and was at once
sent out--with a letter. Whistler felt the seriousness of the offence,
and he lent his support to W. E. Henley's _National Observer_, in which
the affair was exposed and in which also the Queen was called upon to
remove Herkomer from his post as Slade Professor at the University of
Oxford.

From this time J. saw Whistler oftener, meeting him in clubs, in
galleries, in friends' houses, occasionally at Solferino's, the
little restaurant in Rupert Street which was for several years the
meeting-place, a club really, for the staff of the _National Observer_.
Nobody who ever lunched there on Press day at the Academy, or the New
English Art Club, or the New Gallery is likely to forget the talk round
the table in the corner. Never have we heard R. A. M.--"Bob"--Stevenson
more brilliant, more paradoxical, more inspiriting than at these midday
gatherings. Whistler's first encounter with Henley's paper, then
edited in Edinburgh, was a sharp skirmish which, though he afterwards
became friendly with Henley, he never forgot nor forgave. Henley was
publishing a series of articles called _Modern Men_, among whom he
included Whistler, "the Yankee with the methods of Barnum." The policy
of the _National Observer_ was to fight, everybody, everything, and it
fought with spirit. But it had no patience with the battles of others.
Of Whistler the artist it approved, but not of Whistler the writer of
letters, whom it pronounced rowdy and unpleasant. "Malvolio-Macaire"
was its name for him. At last, in noticing Sheridan Ford's _Gentle
Art_, of which we shall presently have more to say, it continued in
the same strain, and a copy of the paper containing the review, "with
proud mark, in the blue pencil of office," was sent to Whistler. He
answered with a laugh at "the thick thumb of your editorial refinement"
pointed "in deprecation of my choice rowdyism." Two things came of
the letter--one amusing, the other a better understanding. Whistler's
answer finished with a "regret that the ridiculous 'Romeike' has not
hitherto sent me your agreeable literature." Romeike objected; he had
sent eight hundred and seven clippings to Whistler: he demanded an
apology. Whistler gave it without hesitation: he had never thought of
Romeike as a person, and he wrote, "if it be not actionable permit me
to say that you really are delightful!!" No one could appreciate the
wit, the fun of it all better than Henley, and he was the more eager
to meet Whistler. His account of the meeting, when it came about, was
coloured by the enthusiasm that made Henley the stimulating person
he was. "And we met," he would say, throwing back his great head and
laughing with joy, though he gave no details of the meeting. Henley
managed to find "the earnest of romance" in everything that happened to
him. "And there we were--Whistler and I--together!" he would repeat, as
if it were the most dramatic situation that could be imagined.

The bond between them was their love of the Thames. Henley was the
first to sing the beauty of the river that Whistler was the first
to paint, and when he wrote the verses (_No. XIII._ in _Rhymes and
Rhythms_) that give the feeling, the magical charm of the Nocturnes, he
dedicated them to Whistler. Big and splendid as a Viking, exuberant,
emphatic, Henley was not the type physically to interest Whistler. The
sketch of him (made in 1896) is one of Whistler's least satisfactory
lithographs, and only six impressions were pulled. But their relations
were cordial, and when the _National Observer_ was transferred to
London and Henley returned with it, Whistler sometimes came to the
dinners of the staff at Solferino's. Henley had gathered about him the
younger literary men and journalists: Rudyard Kipling, "Bob" Stevenson,
J. M. Barrie, Marriott Watson, G. S. Street, Vernon Blackburn,
Fitzmaurice Kelly, Arthur Morrison, Charles Whibley, Kenneth Grahame,
George W. Steevens. After Mr. Astor bought the _Pall Mall Gazette_
its staff was largely recruited from the _National Observer_, and Mr.
Henry Cust, the editor, and Mr. Ivan-Muller, the assistant editor,
joined the group in the room upstairs. When dinner was over and Henley
was thundering at his end of the table, the rest listening, Whistler
sometimes dropped in, and the contrast between him and Henley added
to the gaiety of the evening: Henley, the "Burly" of Stevenson's
essay on _Talk and Talkers_, "who would roar you down ... bury his
face in his hands ... undergo passions of revolt and agony"; Whistler,
who would find the telling word, let fly the shaft of wit that his
eloquent hands emphasised with delicate, graceful gesture. His "Ha ha!"
rose above Henley's boisterous intolerance. When "Bob" Stevenson was
there--"Spring-Heel'd Jack"--the entertainment was complete. But each
of the three talked his best when he held the floor, and we have known
Whistler more brilliant when dining alone with us. From Solferino's,
at a late hour when Henley, as always in his lameness, had been helped
to his cab, Whistler and J. would retire with "Bob" Stevenson and a
little group to the Savile, where everything under heaven was discussed
by them, Professor Walter Raleigh, Reginald Blomfield, and Charles
Furse frequently joining them, and they rarely left until the club was
closed. Whistler would, in his turn, be seen to his cab on his way
home, and a smaller group would listen to "Bob" between Piccadilly and
Westminster Bridge, waiting for him to catch the first morning train to
Kew.

Whistler seldom left without some parting shot which his friends
remembered, though he was apparently unconscious of the effects of
these bewildering little sayings as he returned to his house in Cheyne
Walk. There he was often followed by his new friends and often visited
by the few "artists" he had not cared to lose, especially Mr. Francis
James and Mr. Theodore Roussel. A few Followers continued to flutter
at his heels. Portraits of some of those who came to 21 Cheyne Walk
are in the lithograph of _The Garden_: Mr. Walter Sickert, Mr. Sidney
Starr, Mr. and Mrs. Brandon Thomas. Mr. Walter Sickert had married
Miss Ellen Cobden, and she was a constant visitor. So also were Henry
Harland, later editor of the _Yellow Book_, and Mrs. Harland; Wolcot
Balestier, the enterprising youth who set out to corner the literature
of the world, and who, with Mr. S. S. McClure, was bent on syndicating
everybody, including Whistler; Miss Carrie Balestier, now Mrs. Rudyard
Kipling; an American journalist called Haxton, with a stammer that
Whistler adored to the point of borrowing it on occasions, though he
never could manage the last stage when words that refused to be spoken
had to be spelled. Another was André Raffalovitch, a Russian youth
and poet, whose receptions brought together many amusing as well as
fantastic elements of London society. But the most intimate friend he
made at this period was Mr. William Heinemann, and this brings us to
the great event of 1890, the publication of _The Gentle Art of Making
Enemies_.



CHAPTER XXXIV: "THE GENTLE ART." THE YEAR EIGHTEEN NINETY.


For years Whistler's letters to the papers puzzled the people. George
Moore laboured to account for them in _Modern Painting_ by an elaborate
theory of physical feebleness, and George Moore has been taken
seriously in the provinces and America. One glimpse of Whistler at the
printing-press, sleeves rolled up showing two strong arms, and the
theory and the theorist would have been knocked out. The letters were
not an eccentricity; they were not a weakness. From the first, written
to the _Athenæum_ in 1862, they had one aim, "to make history." Buried
in the papers, they were lost; if the history were to be made they must
be collected. They were collected and edited as _The Gentle Art of
Making Enemies as Pleasingly Exemplified in Many Instances, Wherein the
Serious Ones of this Earth, Carefully Exasperated, Have Been Prettily
Spurred on to Unseemliness and Indiscretion, While Overcome by an Undue
Sense of Right_.

The book, born of years of fighting, was ushered into the world by a
fight. The work of collecting and arranging the letters was undertaken
by Mr. Sheridan Ford, an American journalist in London. Whistler said
that Ford only helped him. Ford said that the idea was his, that he,
with Whistler's approval, was collecting and editing the letters for
a publication of his own. We give Ford's story and that of one who
followed it at the time, Mr. J. McLure Hamilton, and this we are better
pleased to do because Whistler misunderstood Mr. Hamilton's part in
the matter, and credited him with a malice and enmity that few men
could be so incapable of as he. Whistler would never consent to meet
him and could not understand why we should not agree in his view of
Mr. Hamilton as "a dangerous person." By accident they did meet in our
flat. Whistler was dining with us, Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton called in the
evening. Other people were there, and they simply ignored one another;
chance had blundered in its choice of the moment for the meeting. We
think Whistler would have felt the unfairness of his judgment of Mr.
Hamilton's conduct could he have read Mr. Hamilton's version which he
has sent us:

"In the spring of 1889 I met Mr. and Mrs. Sheridan Ford. Sheridan Ford
was writing for the _New York Herald_, and Mrs. Sheridan Ford had been
interesting picture-dealers in the work of Swan, Clausen, Melville, and
others. Ford had a very strong taste for art, and seemed to be opposed
to all forms of trickery, and was engaged on a series of articles which
appeared in the _New York Herald_, London edition, upon Whistler and
his work. He was also the author of _Art, a Commodity_, a pamphlet
widely read both in England and America. He came to me one day, and
told me of an idea that he thought could be carried out with advantage
to himself and Whistler. He suggested that the letters which Whistler
had been publishing from time to time in the Press should be published
in book form. The title was to be _The Gentle Art of Making Enemies_,
and was, I understood, Ford's. Whistler and he had talked the matter
over, and it was agreed between them that Ford should collect the
letters, edit them with remarks of his own, and publish the book for
his own profit.

"The work went on for some months, and occasionally Ford would bring me
letters that he had unearthed from the newspaper files at the British
Museum to read. I was not acquainted with Whistler, but from what
Ford told me I understood that Whistler was as much interested in the
progress of the book as Ford. The latter seemed to be looking forward
with great eagerness to the production of a book which could not fail
to amuse the art world.

"One morning Ford came to me at Alpha House in great distress. He
brought with him a letter from Whistler requesting him to discontinue
the making of the book, and containing a cheque for ten pounds in
payment for the trouble that he had had in collecting the materials.
The book at that time was almost complete, and the preface written.
After a prolonged talk with him upon all the bearings of the case,
I concluded that Whistler's change of mind had been determined by
the discovery that there would be too much credit and profit lost to
him if he allowed Ford to bring out the work, and that probably Mrs.
Whistler had suggested to Whistler that it would be a great gain to him
if he were to issue the letters himself. Ford asked me what I would
advise him to do. I replied that I personally would not go on with the
book, but that if he were careful to omit _all copyright matter_ he
would be perfectly justified in continuing, after having, of course,
returned the cheque to Whistler. I have no doubt that Ford asked the
advice of others, for soon he brought me the advance proofs to read,
and I spent a great deal of time going over them, sometimes suggesting
alterations and improvements. A note from Ford reached me telling
me that the book was finished, and asking my permission to dedicate
it to me. I wrote, in reply, that I did not wish the work dedicated
to me. Ford found a good publisher who was willing to undertake the
publication of the work, and, as far as I could see, everything was
going on satisfactorily, when one morning Ford called to see me and
told me that Whistler had discovered the printer and had threatened to
proceed against him if he did not immediately destroy the sheets, and
he (Whistler) found and seized the first sewn-up copy (or leaves) with
my name on the dedication page, in spite of the refusal I had given.

[The dedication was as follows: "Dedicated to John McLure Hamilton, A
Great Painter and a Charming Comrade. In Memory of Many Pleasant Days."
The proposed title was _The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. J. McNeill
Whistler as the Unattached Writer. With Some Whistler Stories Old and
New. Edited by Sheridan Ford. Brentano's. London, Paris, New York,
Washington, Chicago, 1890_. Both dedication and title we have seen in
Ford's handwriting.]

"This brought at once a letter from Whistler to me, in which he
abruptly accused me of assisting Ford in wronging him. I replied in a
few words denying his allegations. At this interview Ford's manner was
strange, and for several weeks after he was confined to his house, a
natural consequence of seeing all his hopes shattered. He had foreseen
in the successful production of _The Gentle Art of Making Enemies_ the
opening of a happy and profitable career in letters. After his recovery
Mr. and Mrs. Ford went away, pursued by the relentless activity of
Whistler. In the end, the so-called 'pirated edition,' paper-bound,
appeared in Mechlin or some other Continental city and was more or less
clandestinely offered for sale in England. Whistler's handsome volume
appeared almost simultaneously.

"While these incidents were progressing, I was asked to dine at the
Hogarth Club, and it had evidently been prearranged that I should
meet Whistler after dinner in the smoking-room. This was my first
introduction to the great master. We talked Art and commonplace, but
he never touched upon the subject of the book, and as I was quite sure
the meeting had been arranged in order that he might discuss with me
Ford's conduct, I could not understand his silence. Our next meeting
was at a _conversazione_ held at the Grosvenor Galleries, when we both
freely discussed together the whole question before Melville, who
was displeased at the attitude I took with Whistler. I frankly told
him that I thought he had done Ford a great wrong in withdrawing the
editorship of the book which rightly belonged to him."

Sheridan Ford, persisting that Whistler had conferred on him the right
to publish the collection, announced the simultaneous publication of
his book in England and America. The English publishers, Messrs. Field
and Tuer, of the Leadenhall Press, supposed that Ford was acting for
Whistler when he brought them the MS., which at that time is said
to have been called _The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler_.
The text was set up and cast, the type distributed; they were ready
to print when they discovered their mistake. "We then sent for the
person in question," they wrote to Messrs. Lewis and Lewis, Whistler's
solicitors, "and told him that until he obtained Mr. Whistler's
sanction, we declined to proceed further with the work."

Sheridan Ford went to Antwerp, and had the book printed there. Sir
George Lewis followed and seized the edition at the printers on the day
of publication, when vans for its distribution were at their door. The
two thousand copies were carried off by the _Procureur du Roi_. The
matter came before the Belgian Courts in October 1891, M. Edmond Picard
and _Maître_ Maeterlinck, cousin of Maeterlinck the poet, appearing for
Whistler. M. Harry, of the _Indépendance Belge_, described Whistler
in the witness-box, with the eyes of a Mephistopheles flashing and
sparkling under the thick eyebrows, his manner easy and gay, his French
fluent and perfect. He was asked his religion and hesitated. The
Judge, thinking to help him, suggested, "A Protestant, perhaps?" His
answer was a little shrug, as much as to say, "I am quite willing. You
should know. As you choose!" He was asked his age--even the Belgian
reporter respected his objection to having any. Judgment was given for
him. Sheridan Ford was sentenced to a fine of five hundred francs or
three months' imprisonment; to three thousand francs damages or three
months more; to the confiscation of the two thousand copies, and to
costs. After the trial Whistler was taken to the cellars of the Palais
de Justice, and shown the confiscated copies, stored there with other
fraudulent goods, by the law of Belgium destined to perish in dampness
and gloom.

The affair has not been forgotten in Belgium--nor has Whistler.
One impression has been written for us by M. Edmond Picard, the
distinguished Senator, his advocate:

"_En me demandant de parler de l'illustre et regretté Whistler,
vous ne désirez certes pas que j'ajoute mon lot à la riche pyramide
d'admiration et d'éloges définitivement érigée à sa gloire._

"_Il ne peut s'agir, dans votre pensée que de ce que je pourrais
ajouter de spécial et de pittoresque à la Biographie du Grand Artiste._

"_Si j'ai beaucoup vu et aimé ses oeuvres, je n'ai qu'entrevu son
originale personne._

"_Voici deux traits intéressants qui s'y rapportent._

"_Il y a quelques années il s'inquiéta d'une contrefaçon qu'un étranger
habitant Anvers avait perpétré en Belgique de son curieux livre, 'L'Art
charmant de se faire des ennemis.' Je le vis un jour entrer dans mon
cabinet et il me dit avec un sourire sarcastique, 'Je souhaiterais que
vous fussiez mon avocat dans cette petite affaire parcequ'on m'a dit
que vous pratiquez aussi bien que moi l'art charmant de se faire des
ennemis.'_

"_Le procès fut gagné à Anvers avec la collaboration de mon confrère,
M. Maeterlinck, parent du poète qui honore tant notre pays. On célébra
chez lui cette victoire. Quand Whistler, héros de la fête, arriva dans
l'hospitalière maison, il s'attardait dans l'antichambre. La bonne
qui l'avait reçu vint, avec quelque effarement, dire en flamand au
salon où l'on attendait, 'Madame, c'est un acteur; il se coiffe devant
le miroir, il se pommade, il se met du fard et de la poudre!' Après
un assez long intervalle, Whistler parut, courtois, correct, ciré,
cosmétiqué, pimpant comme le papillon que rappêle son nom et qu'il mit
en signature sur quelques-uns des billets qu'il écrivit alors à ses
conseils._

"_Et voilà tout ce que je puis vous offrir._

"_J'ai demandé à M. Maeterlinck les documents qu'il pouvait avoir
conservés de cet épisode judiciaire. Ses recherches ont été vaines.
Alors que d'innombrables pièces insignifiantes ont été conservées,
le Hasard qui se permet tout à fait disparaître ces précieuses
épaves._"[10]

The "Extraordinary Piratical Plot," as Whistler called it in _The
Gentle Art_, did not end in Antwerp. Sheridan Ford took the book to
Paris, where it was issued by Delabrosse et Cie, 1890, though it is
said by Mr. Don C. Seitz to have been printed in Ghent; in Antwerp,
Mr. Ford recently told an interviewer--this edition we have seen;
while other copies, with the imprint of Frederick Stokes and Brother,
were sent to the United States. Sir George Lewis suppressed the Paris
edition and prevented the importation of the book into England, and
Messrs. Stokes cabled to London that their name was used without their
permission. The balance of the edition is stated to have been destroyed
by fire. Copies through the post reached England, sent to newspapers
for review and to individuals supposed to be interested, among whom we
were included. In June 1890 a so-called "second edition" from Paris was
received by some papers. Mr. Seitz says that hardly any copies are in
existence. Sheridan Ford says that nine thousand were sold. But that
was the last heard of it, and Sheridan Ford's book was killed.

Judging from the facts, Whistler treated Ford badly, but Sheridan Ford
acted in defiance of Whistler, and in the Paris edition published an
article so vile that papers refused to print it. Three versions are
given as to the cause of the quarrel. The first is that Mrs. Whistler
interfered and told Whistler to take the work over himself; the second
is Sheridan Ford's statement that Whistler wished M. Duret to prepare
the book; and the third is the suggestion of Mr. Seitz that the
difference arose over the insertion of a letter of Oscar Wilde's. As
this letter was printed in Whistler's edition, Mr. Seitz's conclusions
are of little value and his assertions differ from Sheridan Ford's
contemporary tale. Whistler's version, published by Sheridan Ford in
the letter dated August 18, 1889, is: "I think, for many reasons, we
would do well to postpone the immediate consideration of the proposed
publication for a while. At this moment I find myself curiously
interested in certain paintings, the production of which might
appropriately be made anterior to mere literature." We have heard that
he was urged to come to this decision by Mr. Theodore Roussel, who told
him he ought to prepare the book, pay Sheridan Ford, and get rid of
him. Whistler obtained possession of Sheridan Ford's work, or rather
of his letters collected by Sheridan Ford, arranged them, commented on
them, and published them in his own fashion. Sheridan Ford's book is
undistinguished; Whistler's contains on every page evidence of his care
in carrying out his ideas of book decoration.

Whistler, who was delighted with Mr. William Heinemann's artistic
instinct, sympathy, enthusiasm, and quick appreciation of his
intention, gave him the book to publish. From the day their agreement
was signed the publisher entered into the matter with all his heart.
Whistler's fights were his fights, Whistler's victories his victories.
Whistler was flattered by his understanding of things and came daily
almost to take out his "publisher, philosopher, and friend," as he
described Mr. Heinemann, to breakfast at the Savoy. He would arrive
at eleven, when the business man had hardly got into the swing of his
morning's work. Was it not preposterous that there should be other
books to be prepared, other matters to be thought of, while this
great work of art was being born? The Savoy balcony overlooking the
Embankment was, at so early an hour, deserted, and there they could
discuss, change, and arrange every detail without interruption. Hours
were spent often over a single Butterfly, and usually Whistler's
pockets were full of gay and fantastic entomological drawings.

Whistler was constantly at the Ballantyne Press, where the book
was printed. He chose the type, he spaced the text, he placed the
Butterflies, each of which he designed to convey a meaning. They
danced, laughed, mocked, stung, defied, triumphed, drooped wings over
the farthing damages, spread them to fly across the Channel, and
expressed every word and every thought. He designed the title-page; a
design contrary to established rules, but with the charm, the balance,
the harmony, the touch of personality he gave to everything, and since
copied and prostituted by foolish imitators who had no conception of
its purpose. Mr. MacCall, of the Ballantyne Press, has told us of his
interest and has a proof of it in a collection of Butterflies and proof
sheets covered with Whistler's corrections. Here, too, as everywhere
by those he worked with, he is remembered with affection, and the
printers were delighted to profit by his suggestions. The cover was in
brown, with a yellow back. The title, though attributed to Sheridan
Ford, can be traced to Whistler's speech at the Criterion dinner and
the gentle answer that turneth not away wrath. The dedication is: "To
the rare Few, who, early in Life, have rid Themselves of the Friendship
of the Many, these pathetic Papers are inscribed."

The book was published in June 1890 and has gone through eight
editions, Messrs. John M. Lowell and Co., and then Messrs. Putnam's
Sons, issuing it in America. It met the fate of all his works.
The Press received it with the usual smile at Mr. Whistler's
eccentricities, and here and there a word of praise and appreciation
said with more courage than of old. To the multitude of readers it was
a jest; to a saving remnant it was serious, to none more serious than
to Whistler, who knew it would live with the writings of Cellini, Dürer
and Reynolds.

_The Gentle Art_ is an artistic autobiography. Whistler gave the
sub-title _Auto-Biographical_ to one section--he might have given it to
the whole. He had a way, half-laughing, half-serious, of calling it his
Bible. "Well, you know, you have only to look and there it all is in
the Bible," or "I am afraid you do not know the Bible as you should,"
he often said to us in answer to some question about his work or his
life. The trial, the pamphlets, _The Ten O'Clock_, the _Propositions_,
the letters, the catalogues take their place and appear in their proper
sequence, not as disconnected, inconsequent little squibs and the
elaborate bids for notoriety they were supposed to be. The book, which
may be read for its wit, is really his Manifesto.

He included also the criticisms and comments that had provoked him into
print, for his object was to expose the stupidity and ridicule he was
obliged to face, so that his method of defence should be understood.
To read the book is to wonder the more that there should have been
necessity for defence, so simple and right is his theory, so sincere
and reverent his attitude. We have spoken of most of the different
subjects in it as they appeared. The collection intensifies the effect
each made individually. Everything he wrote had the same end: to show
that "art should be independent of all clap-trap; should stand alone,
and appeal to the artistic sense of eye or ear, without confounding
this with emotions entirely foreign to it, as devotion, pity, love,
patriotism, and the like. All these have no kind of concern with
it, and that is why I insist on calling my works 'arrangements' and
'harmonies.'"

It was for the "knowledge of a lifetime" his work was to be valued,
he told the Attorney-General in court. In this paragraph, and in this
answer, you have the key to _The Gentle Art_. Fault may be found
with arguments; facts and methods may be challenged. But analysis,
description, technical statement, and explanation are so many proofs
of his belief in the independence of art and of his surrender to that
untiring devotion which the "goddess" demands of her disciples.

It would seem impossible that his statement of simple truths should
have been suspected, were it not remembered that art in England
depended mostly on "clap-trap" when Whistler wrote, and that his
manner of meeting suspicion was intended to mystify. He took care that
his book should be the expression not only of his belief but of his
conception of art. Stupidity in critics and public hurt him as much as
insincerity in artists, and when confronted with it he was pitiless.
Dullness, too, he could not stand. He met it with "joyousness": to be
"joyous" was his philosophy of life and art, "where all is fair," and
this philosophy to the multitude was an enigma. His letters to the
Press are apt to be dismissed as shrill, cheap, thin, not worthy a
great artist, still unworthier of his endeavour to immortalise them. It
is true that he might have omitted some things from _The Gentle Art_,
though the names and ridicule he found for the "Enemies" will stick to
them for ever. But Whistler thought "history" would be half made if he
did not leave on record both the provocation he received and his gaiety
of retaliation. When the battle was won and recognition came he wrote
to Atlas from Paris: "We 'collect' no more." _Messieurs les Ennemis_
had no longer to fear for their "scalps." Oftener than not the wit is
cruel in its sting. We have quoted the "F F F ... Fool" letter. There
are others more bitter, because gayer on the surface, to Tom Taylor,
for instance that final disposing of him:

"Why, my dear old Tom, I never _was_ serious with you even when you
were among us. Indeed, I killed you quite, as who should say without
seriousness, 'A rat! A rat!' you know, rather cursorily."

Whistler had the power of expressing himself in words which is rare
with artists. He could write, he had style. Literature, no less than
art, was to him a "dainty goddess." He worked out his shortest letter
as carefully as a portrait or a Nocturne, until all trace of labour in
it had disappeared. People, awed by the spectacle of Ruskin wallowing
amid the many volumes of _Modern Painters_ without succeeding in
the end in saying what he wanted, could not believe that Whistler
was saying anything that mattered when he said in a few pages what
he wanted with no sign of labour. In his notes to _Truth_ and the
_World_, as in _The Ten O'Clock_, he reveals his knowledge of the
Scriptures, while his use of French which displeased his critics, his
odd references, his unexpected quotations, are placed with the same
unerring instinct as the Butterfly on his canvas. He chose the right
word, he made the division of paragraphs effective, punctuation was
with him an art. It is difficult to give examples, because there are
so many. _The Ten O'Clock_ is full of passages that show him at his
best, none finer than the often-quoted description of London "when the
evening mist clothes the riverside with poetry, as with a veil." The
_Propositions_ and _The Red Rag_ are as complete, as simple and direct
as his prints. The book, as an exposition of his beliefs and doctrines,
ranks with Reynolds' _Lectures_; as a chronicle of an artist's
adventures, it is as personal and characteristic as the _Memoirs
of Cellini_. We have been criticised for devoting so much space to
Whistler's wit and his writings, but as a wit and writer Whistler will
live. He was a many-sided man, not a lop-sided painter.

The period of the preparation and publication of _The Gentle Art_ was
one of unimportant quarrels. In each case there was provocation. Of two
or three so much was made at the time that they cannot be ignored. One,
in 1888, was with Mr. Menpes, who, making no secret of it, has recorded
its various stages until the last, when the Follower adopted the
Master's decorations and arrangements in his own house. His _Home of
Taste_ was paragraphed in the papers, and Whistler held him up to the
world's ridicule as "the Kangaroo of his country, born with a pocket
and putting everything into it." The affair came to a crisis not long
after the _Times_ Parnell disclosures, and Whistler wrote to him: "You
will blow your brains out, of course. Pigott has shown you what to do
under the circumstances, and you know your way to Spain. Good-bye."

Once afterwards, at a public dinner, Whistler saw Mr. Menpes come into
the room on Mr. Justin McCarthy's arm: "Ha ha! McCarthy," he laughed as
they passed him. "Ha ha! You should be careful. You know, Damien died."

In 1890 Augustus Moore, brother of George, was added to the list
of "Enemies." The cause was an offensive reference to Godwin, Mrs.
Whistler's first husband, in _The Hawk_, an insignificant sheet Moore
edited. Whistler, knowing that he would find him at any first-night,
went to Drury Lane for the autumn production, _A Million of Money_,
and in the foyer hit Moore with a cane across the face, crying, "Hawk!
Hawk!" There was a scrimmage, and Whistler, as the man who attacked,
was requested to leave the house. The whole thing was the outcome of
a sense of honour, a feeling of chivalry, which is not now understood
in England, though it would have been found magnificent in the days
of duels. The comic papers made great fun of the episode, and the
serious ones lamented the want of dignity it showed. No one understood
Whistler's loyalty and his devotion to the woman he had married.

[Footnote 10: See Appendix at end of volume.]



CHAPTER XXXV: THE TURN OF THE TIDE. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-ONE AND
EIGHTEEN NINETY-TWO.


The world owed him a living, Whistler said, but it was not until 1891
that the world began to pay the debt with the purchase of the _Carlyle_
for Glasgow and the _Mother_ for the Luxembourg.

While the _Carlyle_ was at the Glasgow Institute in 1888, Mr. E. A.
Walton and Sir James Guthrie made up their minds to try to keep it for
the city. Since the attempt to secure it for Edinburgh, the Glasgow
School had become a power, and as they proclaimed themselves followers
of Whistler, it was only right they should do everything to retain
the picture in Glasgow. A petition was presented to the Glasgow
Corporation, signed by a long list of names of influential people,
which greatly pleased Whistler, for they included Gilbert, Orchardson,
Millais, Walton, Guthrie, and many others. The price asked by Whistler
was a thousand guineas, and a deputation from the Corporation came to
call on him in London. Whistler told us:

"I received them, well, you know, charmingly, of course. And one who
spoke for the rest asked me if I did not think I was putting a large
price on the picture--one thousand guineas. And I said, 'Yes, perhaps,
if you will have it so!' And he said that it seemed to the Council
excessive; why, the figure was not even life-size.' And I agreed. 'But,
you know,' I said, 'few men are life-size.' And that was all. It was
an official occasion, and I respected it. Then they asked me to think
over the matter until the next day, and they would come again. And
they came. And they said, 'Have you thought of the thousand guineas
and what we said about it, Mr. Whistler?' And I said, 'Why, gentlemen,
why--well, you know, how could I think of anything but the pleasure of
seeing you again?' And, naturally, being gentlemen, they understood,
and they gave me a cheque for the thousand guineas."

What Whistler meant by "life-size" he has explained. "No man alive is
life-size except the recruit who is being measured as he enters the
regiment, and then the only man who sees him life-size is the sergeant
who measures him, and all that he sees of him is the end of his nose;
when he is able to see his toes, the man ceases to be life-size."

Before the _Carlyle_ went to Glasgow Whistler wished to show it in
London, where, except in Queen Square, it had not been seen since
the Grosvenor Exhibition of 1877, and it was exhibited at the Goupil
Gallery. Mr. D. Croal Thomson, then director of the Gallery, saw that
the tide was turning, and suggested offering the _Mother_ to the
Luxembourg. In Paris there was a sluggish sort of curiosity and the
beginning of a sort of appreciation. During the last ten years Whistler
had shown at the _Salon_ his _Lady Meux_, the _Mother_, _Carlyle_,
_Miss Alexander_, _The Yellow Buskin_, _M. Duret_, _Sarasate_, and
in 1891 his _Rosa Corder_ was in the new _Salon_; but save for the
third-class medal awarded the _Mother_ in 1883 his pictures received
no official recognition, and while several scarcely known Americans
were made full members of the _Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts_ he
was at first simply an Associate. Many of his smaller works had been
seen at different times in the Petit Gallery. At Mr. Croal Thomson's
suggestion the _Mother_ was sent to Messrs. Boussod Valadon in Paris,
and subscriptions for the purchase were opened. Before any amount worth
mentioning was subscribed the French Government, on the initiative
of M. Georges Clémenceau and by the advice of M. Roger Marx, bought
it for the nation. M. Bourgeois, the Minister of Fine Arts, had some
doubt as to the possibility of offering for so fine a masterpiece
the small price that the nation could afford. But Whistler set him
at ease on this point, writing to him that it was for the _Mother_,
of all his pictures, he would prefer so "solemn a consecration," and
that he was proud of the honour France had shown him. The price paid
was four thousand francs. Whistler told Mr. Cole, November 14, 1891,
that his pleasure was in the fact of "his painting of his mother
being 'unprecedentedly' chosen by the Minister of Beaux-Arts for the
Luxembourg," and France that same year bestowed upon him an honour he
valued higher than almost any he ever received, by making him Officer
of the Legion of Honour. But the choice was not unprecedented, pictures
of other American artists having already been purchased, while the
honour had already been bestowed upon American artists now forgotten.

The event was celebrated by a reception at the Chelsea Arts Club on the
evening of December 19, 1891. Whistler was presented with a parchment
of greetings signed by a hundred members as "a record of their high
appreciation of the distinguished honour that has come to him by the
placing of his mother's portrait in the national collection of France."

Whistler said in reply that he was gratified by this token from his
brother artists: "It is right at such a time of peace, after the
struggle, to bury the hatchet--in the side of the enemy--and leave it
there. The congratulations usher in the beginning of my career, for an
artist's career always begins to-morrow."

He promised to remain for long one of the Chelsea artists, a promise
Chelsea artists showed no desire to keep him to. He was a member of the
Club until he went to Paris. When, later, Mr. (now Sir John) Lavery
proposed him as an Honorary Member, there was not enough enthusiasm to
carry the motion. And when, still later, it was further proposed that
the Chelsea Arts Club should officially recognise the Whistler Memorial
they refused, and the comment of one man was, "What had an English Club
to do with a memorial by a Frenchman to a Yankee in London?"

Early in 1892 Mr. Croal Thomson arranged with Whistler for an
exhibition of _Nocturnes, Marines, and Chevalet Pieces_ to be held at
the Goupil Gallery in London, or, as Whistler called it, his "heroic
kick in Bond Street." Mr. Croal Thomson says his first idea was to show
the portraits only. But he soon found that Whistler wanted to include
all the paintings and was going to take the matter in hand, and that
he was "only like the fly on the wheel" once the machinery was set in
motion.

One reason of the success of the exhibition, which surprised not only
Mr. Croal Thomson but all London, was Whistler's care when selecting
his pictures to secure variety. The collection was a magnificent
refutation of everything that the critics had been saying about him for
years. They dismissed his pictures as sketches, and he confronted them
with _The Blue Waves_, _Brown and Silver--Old Battersea Bridge_, _The
Music Room_, which had not been seen in London since the early sixties.
They objected to his want of finish and slovenliness in detail, and
his answer was the Japanese pictures, full of an elaboration the
Pre-Raphaelites never equalled, and finished with an exquisiteness of
surface they never attempted. He was told he could not draw, and he
produced a group of his finest portraits. He was assured he had no
poetic feeling, no imagination, and he displayed the Nocturnes, with
the factories and chimneys transformed into a fairyland in the night.
He was as careful in arranging the manner in which the pictures should
be presented. His letters to Mr. Croal Thomson from Paris, where he
spent the greater part of 1892, were minute in his directions for
cleaning and varnishing the paintings, and putting them into new frames
of his design. Indeed, the correspondence on the subject, which we have
seen, is a miracle of thoughtfulness, energy, and method.

Mr. Croal Thomson tells us: "Mr. Whistler laboured almost night and
day: he wrote letters to every one of the owners of his works in oil
asking loans of the pictures. Some, like Mr. Alexander and all the
Ionides connection, acceded at once, but others made delays, and even
to the end several owners declined to lend. On the whole, however, the
artist was well supported by his early patrons, and the result was a
gathering together of the most complete collection of Mr. Whistler's
best works--forty-three pictures in all.

"The arrangement of the pictures was entirely Mr. Whistler's, for
although he wished several young artists to come to the Gallery the
evening the works were to be hung, through some mischance they did not
arrive, and I was therefore alone with Mr. Whistler and received a
great lesson in the art of arranging a collection."

In the face of so complete a series, in such perfect condition, and
so well hung, criticism was silenced. We remember the Press view, and
the dismay of the older critics who hoped for another "crop of little
jokes," and the triumph of the younger critics who knew that Whistler
had won. The papers, daily, weekly, and monthly, almost unanimously
admitted that the old game of ridicule was played out and praised the
exhibition without reserve. The rest, headed by Sir Frederick Wedmore,
have since been trying to swallow themselves. Mr. Croal Thomson recalls
that:

"Mr. Whistler was not present at the private view. He knew that many
people would expect to see him and talk enthusiastic nonsense, and
he rightly decided he was better away, and I was left to receive
the visitors. Some hundreds of cards of invitation were issued, and
it seemed as if every recipient had accepted. Crowds thronged the
galleries all day, and it is impossible to describe the excitement.
I do not know how it fared with the artist and his wife during the
day, but about five o'clock in the evening Mr. and Mrs. Whistler came
in, though they would not enter the exhibition; they remained in a
curtained-off portion of the Gallery near the entrance. One or two
of their most intimate friends were informed by me of the presence
of the painter, and a small reception was held, for a little while,
but, of course, by that time the battle was won, and there were only
congratulations to be rendered to the master."

J. was taken into the little curtained-off room, and later there was
a triumphal procession to the Arts Club. Whistler declared that even
Academicians had been seen prowling about the place lost in admiration,
that it needed only to send a season ticket to Ruskin to make the
situation perfect, and that, "Well, you know, they were always pearls I
cast before them, and the people were always--well, the same people."

It is said Whistler first intended to print the catalogue without
comment or quotation from the Press, but the chance to expose the
critics was too good, and previous critical verdicts were placed
under the titles of the pictures. Two hundred and fifty copies were
printed by Thomas Way, and in a letter to Way's manager, Mr. Morgan,
he calls the catalogue "perfect." But he also points out that there
are errors, and insists that by no accident or disaster shall any of
the first printed batch of two hundred and fifty copies get about,
and he further says that he proposes to come to the printing office
and destroy them. We know of only four copies, one our own--now in
the Library of Congress--of this unbound first edition that have been
preserved. The other editions, five in all, are in the usual brown
paper covers. As an instance of his care, Mr. William Marchant, then
with Goupils', remembers his spending an afternoon over the arrangement
of the few words on the cover. In the second edition the word "by"
disappeared from the title-page and "Kindly Lent Their Owners" was
printed. This was not intentional on Whistler's part, for we possess a
letter in which he asks that it may be put back at once, and also that
the "Moral" at the end of the catalogue, "Modern _British_ (!) art will
now be represented in the National Gallery of the Luxembourg by one
of the finest paintings due to the brush of an _English artist_ (!),"
should be credited not to him, but to the _Illustrated London News_.
Before the edition was exhausted the "Kindly Lent Their Owners" had
become famous, though it did not appear in subsequent editions. But
it reappeared when the catalogue was reprinted in _The Gentle Art_.
The extracts he quoted were cruel, but the critics had been cruel. The
sub-title, "_The Voice of a People_" explains his object in publishing
them. The catalogue ended with the quotation from the _Chronique des
Beaux-Arts_:

"_Au musée du Luxembourg, vient d'être placé de M. Whistler, le
splendide Portrait de Mme. Whistler mère, une oeuvre destinée à
l'éternité des admirations, une oeuvre sur laquelle la consécration des
siècles semble avoir mis la patine d'un Rembrandt, d'un Titien, où d'un
Vélasquez._"

This, in later editions, was followed by the "Moral" duly credited to
the _Illustrated London News_.

Before the show closed the pictures were photographed, and twenty-four
were afterwards published in a portfolio called _Nocturnes, Marines,
and Chevalet Pieces_, by Messrs. Goupil. Whistler designed the cover
in brown. There were a hundred sets, each photograph signed by him,
published at six guineas, and two hundred unsigned at four guineas.

An immediate result of the exhibition was that sitters came. One of
the first was the Duke of Marlborough, who gave him a commission for a
portrait and asked him and Mrs. Whistler to Blenheim for the autumn.
Whistler wrote the Duke one of his "charming letters," then heard of
his sudden death, and said:

"Now I shall never know whether my letter killed him, or whether he
died before he got it. Well, they all want to be painted because of
these pictures, but why wouldn't they be painted years ago when I
wanted to paint them, and could have painted them just as well?"

And he was besieged by Americans, Whistler said, who were determined
"to pour California into his lap," a determination to which he had no
objection. His "pockets should always be full, or my golden eggs are
addled." He thought it would be "amazing fun" to be rich. Once, driving
with Mr. Starr, he said:

"Starr, I have not dined, as you know, so you need not think I say
this in any but a cold and careful spirit: it is better to live on
bread and cheese and paint beautiful things than to live like Dives
and paint pot-boilers. But a painter really should not have to worry
about 'various,' you know. Poverty may induce industry, but it does
not produce the fine flower of painting. The test is not poverty, it's
money. Give a painter money and see what he'll do; if he does not paint
his work is well lost to the world. If I had had, say, three thousand
pounds a year, what beautiful things I could have done."

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF PABLO SARASATE

ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK

OIL

In the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh

(_See page 223_)]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF LADY COLIN CAMPBELL

HARMONY IN WHITE AND IVORY

OIL (DESTROYED)

From a photograph lent by Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

(_See page 262_)]

No one could know better than Mr. Croal Thomson how complete was this
success:

"I do not think I am exaggerating when I say that the exhibition
marked a revolution in the public feeling towards Whistler. His
artistic powers were hitherto disputed on every hand, but when it was
possible for lovers of art to see for themselves what the painter
had accomplished the whole position was changed. I will be pardoned,
I hope, in stating that whereas up to that time the pictures of Mr.
Whistler commanded only a small sum of money, after the exhibition
a great number of connoisseurs desired to acquire his works, and
therefore their money value immediately increased.

"In the Goupil collection all the pictures were contributed by private
owners, and none were offered for sale. I may say in passing that,
as a matter of fact, the crowds of visitors were so great that no
transaction of any serious kind was carried through in the Gallery
between the hanging of the pictures and their dispersal--that is, for
nearly five weeks there was practically no record of business.

"But the exhibition altered all this, and it is revealing no secrets
to say that within a year after the exhibition was closed I had aided
in the transfer of more than one-half of the pictures from their first
owners. Mr. Whistler, to whom I always referred before concluding any
transaction, came to the conclusion that there was hardly a holder of
his pictures in England but who would sell when tempted by a large
price. It may be that these owners had become affected by the continual
misunderstanding and abuse of Mr. Whistler's works, and that when they
were offered double or three times the sum for which they had their
pictures insured they thought they had better take advantage of the
enthusiasm of the moment. They did not realise that this enthusiasm
would continue to enlarge, and that what seemed to them as original
purchasers of the pictures to be a great price is only about one-fourth
of their present money value.

"It was the artist's wish that a similar exhibition should be held in
Paris, but the project fell through, and from more recent experience it
would appear as if the London public, sometimes so severely scoffed at
by Mr. Whistler, was really more appreciative than the Parisian public,
and, therefore, perhaps after all more intelligent."

Whistler sold _The Falling Rocket_ for eight hundred guineas, and
wished that Ruskin could know that it had been valued at "four pots
of paint." The Leyland sale, May 28, 1892, brought the _Princesse du
Pays de la Porcelaine_ and smaller works into the auction-room, and,
though the _Princesse_ fetched only four hundred and twenty guineas,
this was four times as much as Whistler received. What would he have
said to the five thousand Mr. Freer paid for it within a year of his
death? The sixty or eighty pounds Mr. Leathart paid Whistler for the
_Lange Leizen_ increased to six or eight hundred when he sold it. Mr.
Ionides had bought _Sea and Rain_ for twenty or thirty pounds, and now
asked three hundred. Fifty pounds, the price of the _Blue Wave_ when
Mr. Gerald Potter had it from Whistler, multiplied to a thousand when
it was his turn to dispose of it. Fourteen hundred pounds was given
by Arthur Studd for _The Little White Girl_ and a Nocturne, the two
having cost Mr. Potter about one hundred and eighty pounds, and we have
been told that Arthur Studd was recently offered six thousand pounds
for _The Little White Girl_ alone. Whistler resented it when he found
that fortunes were being made "at his expense" by so-called friends,
and he complained that they were turning his reputation into pounds,
shillings, and pence, travelling over Europe and holiday-making on
the profits. The previous sentence was written when our book first
appeared. During 1918 and 1919, there has been a fabulous increase in
the selling price of Whistler's work. We do not know what amount was
paid by Mr. Frick for the _Lady Meux_, the _Rosa Corder_, and the _Mrs.
Leyland_ which he recently purchased. Some of the reports of prices are
greatly exaggerated, no doubt. A few owners of Whistlers do appreciate
them. But nearly all collectors in the United States regard art as
they do stocks. They buy for a rise, and appreciate only the monetary
value of the works they possess. One of the most striking cases is that
of Mr. Howard Mansfield, whom Whistler, during many years, furnished
with some of his most interesting prints, aided and directed in their
collection, hoping, of course, that they would be left to a museum. But
Mr. Mansfield sold his collection for an enormous price, altogether out
of proportion to what Whistler received. Surprising statements have
been circulated about the sale of pictures. The announcement of the
price recently paid for the _Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine_ is as
incorrect as the title given to the painting, which is simply a small
slight sketch and different version of the important subject owned by
Mr. Freer. The bigger the lie, the more impressive is such a statement
concerning the prices asked and obtained--the merit of the work is of
secondary importance. This is a fair specimen of American commercial
art criticism.

Whistler, after the trade in his work began, suggested that a work of
art, when sold, should still remain the artist's property; that it
was only "lent its owner." It was now his frequent demand to owners
and condition to purchasers that his pictures should be available
for exhibition when and where and as often as he pleased. This is
illustrated in the following letter which Mr. H. S. Theobald, K.C.,
writes us:

"... About 1870 I began to get such of his etchings as I could, and
somewhere early in the eighties I became the fortunate possessor of
some thirty or forty drawings and pastels through the Dowdeswells.
Whistler became aware of my ownership of these, and they sometimes
brought him to my house, which was then in Westbourne Square. The
pictures, owing to stress of space, hung mostly on the staircase, and
Whistler would stand in rapt admiration before them, with occasional
ejaculations of 'how lovely,' 'how divine,' and so on. On one of these
occasions he asked my wife if she had had her portrait taken. 'But of
course not,' he added, 'as I have not painted you.'

"My intercourse with the Master was limited to occasions when he wanted
to borrow the pictures. His manner of proceeding was somewhat abrupt.
Some morning a person would appear in a four-wheel cab and present
Whistler's card, on which was written, 'Please let bearer have fourteen
of my pictures.' Sometimes, but not often, there was a preliminary
warning from Whistler himself. But though the pictures went easily, it
was a labour of Hercules to retrieve them. Once when I went to fetch
them at his studio by appointment, after a previous effort, also by
appointment, which was not kept, I found the studio locked, but after
a search among the neighbours I got the key, and then I found some two
or three hundred pictures stacked round the room buried in the dust
of ages. Whistler loved his pictures but he certainly took no care of
them. On that occasion I remember I took away by mistake in exchange
for one of my pictures, a Nocturne that did not belong to me, though it
was very like one of mine. You can imagine the Master's winged words
when he found this out. I could only cry _mea culpa_ and bow my head
before the storm. It was the risk to which I feared the pictures were
exposed which made me harden my heart."

Whistler was as anxious to keep his pictures out of exhibitions
when for some reason he did not care to have them shown. The large
_Three Girls_ (_Three Figures, Pink and Grey_, in the London Memorial
Exhibition) was at Messrs. Dowdeswell's in the summer of 1891. He
had before this tried to get possession of it in order that he might
destroy it, and he had offered to paint the portrait of the owner and
his wife in exchange. His offer was refused, and while the picture was
at Messrs. Dowdeswell's, he wrote a letter to the _Pall Mall Gazette_
(July 28, 1891), to explain that it was a painting "thrown aside for
destruction." An impudent answer from a critic led to a more explicit
statement of his views on the subject:

"All along have I carefully destroyed plates, torn up proofs and burned
canvases that the truth of the quoted word shall prevail, and that the
future collector shall be spared the mortification of cataloguing his
pet mistakes. To destroy, is to remain."

When this picture, with a number of studies for it, was sent to the
London Memorial Exhibition, it was found very interesting and it was
hung, and we think it fortunate that it was not destroyed. But had the
Committee known it was the picture he wished destroyed it never would
have been exhibited by the International Society.

In the summer of 1892, Whistler was invited by the Duke of Argyll to
contribute to the British Section at the World's Columbian Exposition
to be held in Chicago the following year, and the picture mentioned for
the purpose was the _Carlyle_. The portrait had been skied in a corner
the previous winter at the Victorian Exhibition in the New Gallery,
of which Mr. J. W. Beck was Secretary, as he was now of the Fine
Arts Committee for Chicago. Whistler wrote to Mr. Beck, sending his
"distinguished consideration to the Duke and the President" (Leighton)
with the assurance "that I have an undefined sense of something
ominously flattering occurring, but that no previous desire on his part
ever to deal with work of mine has prepared me with the proper form of
acknowledgment. No, no, Mr. Beck! Once hung, twice shy!"

When the letter was sent to the papers and printers made "sky" of
the "shy" Whistler was enchanted. Mr. Smalley told the story of the
invitation in the _Times_, after Whistler's death, under the impression
that he had been invited to show at Burlington House. That Whistler
never was invited to show anything there we know, and we have the
further testimony of Sir Fred Eaton, Secretary of the Academy, that "No
such proposal as Mr. Smalley speaks of was ever made to Mr. Whistler,
and it is difficult to understand on what grounds he made such a
statement."

It is an amusing coincidence that this would seem to be confirmed by
the fate of a letter addressed to Whistler, "The Academy, England,"
which, after having gone to the newspaper of that name, was next sent
to Burlington House, and, finally, reached Whistler with "Not known at
the R.A.," written on the cover. Here was one of the little incidents
that Whistler called "the droll things of this pleasant life," and he
sent the cover for reproduction to the _Daily Mail_ with the reflection:

"In these days of doubtful frequentation it is my rare good fortune to
be able to send you an unsolicited official and final certificate of
character."

Whistler did not depend upon the British Section at the Chicago
Exposition. Americans made up for the official blunders of 1889.
Professor Halsey C. Ives, chief of the Art Department, wrote letters
that Whistler found most courteous, and everything was done to secure
his pictures and prints. He was splendidly represented by The _Yellow
Buskin_, the _Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine_, _The Fur Jacket_,
among paintings, and by etchings of every period. The medal given him
was the first official honour from his native land, where never before
had so representative a collection of his work been seen.

Towards the end of 1892 the appreciation of America was expressed in
another form. The new Boston Library was being built, and Messrs.
McKim, Meade, and White were the architects. It was determined that
the interior should be decorated by the most distinguished American
artists. Mr. Sargent and Mr. Abbey were commissioned to do part of
the work, and they joined with Mr. McKim and St. Gaudens in trying to
induce Whistler to undertake the large panel at the top of the stairs.
He made notes and suggestions for the design, which, he told us, was
to be a great peacock ten feet high; but the work was put off, and,
in the end, nothing came of the first opportunity given him for mural
decoration since The Peacock Room.



CHAPTER XXXVI: PARIS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-TWO AND EIGHTEEN
NINETY-THREE.


Whistler went to live in Paris again in 1892. Moving from London was a
complicated affair, and, during several months, he and Mrs. Whistler
and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Whibley, were continually running backward
and forward, before they settled in the Rue du Bac. We saw him whenever
he came to London and whenever we were in Paris, and, as we were there
often, we saw much of him.

A group of artists and art critics, whose appreciation of Whistler had
not waited for the turning of the tide, were in the habit of going
together to Paris for the opening of the _Salon_. In 1892, R. A. M.
Stevenson, Aubrey Beardsley, Henry Harland, D. S. McColl, Charles W.
Furse, Alexander and Robert Ross, among others, were with us, and to
all it was a pleasure to find Whistler triumphing as he had triumphed
earlier in the spring in London. His pictures at the Champ-de-Mars
were the most talked about and the most distinguished in an unusually
good _Salon_. Many came straight from the Goupil Exhibition. Whistler
called it "a stupendous success all along the line," and said that,
coming after the Goupil "heroic kick," it made everything complete and
perfect. He was pleased also with the fact that he was elected a full
_Sociétaire_, and this year a member of the jury.

In the autumn, J., returning to Paris after a long summer in the
South of France, found Whistler in the Hôtel du Bon Lafontaine, a
house, Whistler said, full of bishops, cardinals, and _monsignori_,
and altogether most correct, to which he had moved from the Foyot,
inhabited by Senators, after a bomb had exploded in the kitchen window.
J. says:

"He was not too comfortably established, in one or two small rooms.
He was full of the apartment in the Rue de Bac, which I was taken to
see, though there was nothing to see but workmen and packing-boxes.
In the midst of the moving, he was working, and one day I found him
in his bedroom with Mallarmé, whose portrait in lithography he was
drawing, and there was scarcely room for three. This portrait is the
frontispiece to Mallarmé's _Vers et Prose_.

"It was the first time I had ever seen Whistler working on a
lithograph. He had great trouble with this portrait, which he did more
than once, not altogether because, as M. Duret says, he could not get
the head right, but because he was trying experiments with paper. He
was thoroughly dissatisfied with the mechanical grained paper which
he had used for the _Albermarle_ and the _Whirlwind_ prints, and he
was then afraid of trusting to the post the paper that Way was sending
him. He had found at Belfont's or Lemercier's some thin textureless
transfer paper, thin as tissue paper, which delighted him, though it
was difficult to work on. When he was doing the Mallarmé, he put the
paper down on a roughish book cover. He liked the grain the cover gave
him, for it was not mechanical, and, when the grain seemed to repeat
itself, he would shift the drawing, and thus get a new surface. I do
not know whether he used this thin paper to any extent, but he said he
found it delightful, if difficult, to work on. He used that afternoon a
tiny bit of lithographic chalk, holding it in his fingers, and not in a
crayon-holder as lithographers do.

"The next day, he took me to the printers, Belfont's and Lemercier's,
where he introduced me to M. Duchâtel and M. Marty, who was preparing
_L'Estampe Originale_, devoting himself to the revival of artistic
lithography in France. As I remember, the talk was technical, when
not of the wonders of the apartment in the Rue du Bac--where 'Peace
threatens to take up her abode in the garden of our pretty pavilion,'
Mr. Starr quotes Whistler as saying--and the studio in the Rue
Notre-Dame-des-Champs, which I did not see until later on. He was also
planning his colour lithographs, and he explained to me his methods,
though very few colour-prints were made until the next year. He also
told me what he thought of printing etchings in colour--that it was
abominable, vulgar, and stupid. Good black or brown ink, on good old
paper, had been good enough for Rembrandt, it was good enough for him,
and it ought to be good enough in the future for the few people who
care about etching. To-day, when the world is swamped with the childish
print in colour and the preposterous big copper plate, it may be well
to remember Whistler's words. His reason for rejecting the etching
in colour is as simple and rational as his reason for making the
lithograph in colour. Lithography is a method of surface printing; the
colour, rolled on to the surface of the stone, is merely rubbed on to,
and scraped off on, the paper. In etching or engraving, the colour is
first hammered into the engraved plate with a dabber and then forced
out by excessive pressure, fatal to any but the strongest or purest of
blacks and browns; and colours, whether printed from one plate or a
dozen, must have the freshness, the quality, squeezed out of them."

He was back in London at the end of December (1892) eating his
Christmas dinner with his future brother-in-law. He stayed only a
few days, but long enough to arrange to show _Lady Meux: White and
Black_ in the first exhibition of the Portrait Painters at the Grafton
Gallery, early in 1893, and a number of his Venice etchings with the
destroyed plates at the Fine Art Society's.

"We were again in Paris for the _Salon_ of 1893, and found Whistler
living in the Rue du Bac. Beardsley, MacColl, and 'Bob' Stevenson
were with us. MacColl and I went to see Whistler in the new studio.
It was at the top of one of the highest buildings in the Rue
Notre-Dame-des-Champs, No. 86. As the _concierge_ said, in directing
visitors, '_On ne peut pas aller plus loin que M. Vistlaire!_' The
climb always seemed to me endless, and must have done much harm to
Whistler's weak heart, though benches were placed on some of the
landings where, if he had time, he could rest. When we got to the sixth
storey MacColl knocked. There was a rapid movement across the floor,
and the door was opened a little. Whistler held his palette and brushes
between himself and us, and there were excuses of models and work. But
MacColl felt the brushes, and they were dry, and so we got in.

"The studio was a big, bare room, the biggest studio Whistler ever had.
A simple tone of rose on the walls, a lounge, a few chairs, a whitewood
cabinet for the little drawings and prints and pastels; the blue screen
with the river, Chelsea church, and the gold moon; two or three easels,
nothing on them; rows and rows of canvases on the floor with their
faces to the wall; in the further corner a printing press--rather a
printing shop--with inks and papers on shelves; a little gallery above,
a room or two opening off; a model's dressing-room under it, and in
front, when you turned, the great studio window, with all Paris toward
the Pantheon over the Luxembourg gardens. There was another little
room or entrance-hall at the top of the stairs, and opposite another,
a kitchen. On the front was a balcony with flowers.

[Illustration: ANNABEL LEE PASTEL

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 280_)]

[Illustration: THE CONVALESCENT WATER-COLOUR

In the possession of Dr. J. W. MacIntyre

(_See page 274_)]

"Carmen, his model, was there, and while he showed us some of his work
she got breakfast, and we stayed a good part of the day. Mrs. Whistler
came up later. I think she breakfasted with us. I have no recollection
of what he talked about. But I am sure it was of what they had been
saying in London, of what they were saying in Paris, of what he was
doing. That is what it always was. We were all asked to lunch the
following Sunday at the house.

"The apartment, No. 110 Rue du Bac, was on the right-hand side, just
before you reached the _Bon Marché_, going up the street, from the
river. You went through a big _porte cochère_ by the _concierge's_
box, down a long, covered tunnel, then between high walls, until you
came to a courtyard with several doors, a bit of an old frieze in one
place and a drinking-fountain. Whistler's door was painted blue, with
a brass knocker. I do not suppose that then there was another like it
in Paris. Inside was a little landing with three or four steps down
to the floor a few feet lower than the courtyard. This room contained
nothing, or almost nothing, but some trunks (which, as in his other
houses, gave the appearance of his having just moved in, or being
just about to start on a journey) and a settee, always covered with a
profusion of hats and coats. Opposite the entrance a big door opened
into a spacious room, decorated in simple, flat tones of blue, with
white doors and windows, furnished with a few Empire chairs and a
couch, a grand piano, and a table which, like the blue matting-covered
floor, was littered with newspapers. Once in a while there was a
picture of his on the wall. For some time, the _Venus_ hung or stood
about. There were doors to the right and left, and on the far side, a
glass door opened on a large garden, a real bit of country in Paris.
It stretched away in dense undergrowth to several huge trees. Later,
over the door, there was a trellis designed by Mrs. Whistler, and there
were flowers everywhere. 'In his roses he buried his troubles,' Mr.
Wuerpel writes of the garden, and there were many birds, among them,
at one time, an awful mocking-bird, at another a white parrot which
finally escaped, and, in a temper, climbed up a tree where no one could
get it, and starved itself to death to Whistler's grief. At the bottom
of the garden were seats. The dining-room was to the right of the
drawing-room. It was equally simple in blue, only there was blue and
white china in a cupboard and a big dining-table, round which were more
Empire chairs and in the centre a large, low blue and white porcelain
stand, on it big bowls of flowers, over it, hanging from the ceiling, a
huge Japanese something like a birdcage.

"From Paris, in May, I went down to Caen and Coutances, coming back a
few weeks later. Beardsley was still in Paris, or had returned, and we
were both stopping at the Hôtel de Portugal et de l'Univers, then known
to every art student. Wagner was being played at the Opera, almost for
the first time. Paris was disturbed, there were demonstrations against
Wagner, really against Germany. We went, Beardsley wild about Wagner
and doing, I think, the drawing of _The Wagnerites_. He had come over
to get backgrounds in the rose arbours and the dense alleys of the
Luxembourg gardens, where Whistler had made his lithographs. Coming
away from the Opera, we went across to the Café de la Paix at midnight.
The first person we saw was Whistler. He was with some people, but they
left soon, and we joined him. Beardsley also left almost at once, but
not before Whistler had asked us to come the next Sunday afternoon to
the Rue du Bac. Then, for the first time, I learned what he thought of
'æstheticism' and decadence.'

"'Why do you get mixed up with such things? Look at him! He's just like
his drawings, he's all hairs and peacock's plumes--hairs on his head,
hairs on his fingers' ends, hairs in his ears, hairs on his toes. And
what shoes he wears--hairs growing out of them!'

"I said, 'Why did you ask him to the Rue du Bac?'
'Oh--well--well--well!' And then it was late, or early, and the last
thing was, 'Well, you'll come and bring him too.'

"Years later, in Buckingham Street, Whistler met Beardsley, and got
to like not only him, as everybody did, but his work. One night when
Whistler was with us, Beardsley turned up, as always when he went to
see anyone, with his portfolio of his latest work under his arm. This
time it held the illustrations for _The Rape of the Lock_, which he
had just made. Whistler, who always saw everything that was being
done, had seen the _Yellow Book_, started in 1894, and he disliked it
as much as he then disliked Beardsley, who was the art editor; he had
also seen the illustrations to _Salomé_, disliking them too, probably
because of Oscar Wilde; he knew many of the other drawings, one of
which, whether intentionally or unintentionally, was more or less a
reminiscence of Mrs. Whistler, and he no doubt knew that Beardsley had
made a caricature of him which a Follower carefully left in a cab. When
Beardsley opened the portfolio and began to show us _The Rape of the
Lock_, Whistler looked at them first indifferently, then with interest,
then with delight. And then he said slowly, 'Aubrey, I have made a very
great mistake--you are a very great artist.' And the boy burst out
crying. All Whistler could say, when he could say anything, was 'I mean
it--I mean it--I mean it!'

"On the following Sunday Beardsley and I went to the Rue du Bac,
Beardsley in a little straw hat like Whistler's. Whistler was in
the garden and there were many Americans, and Arsène Alexandre and
Mallarmé, some people from the British Embassy, and presently Mr.
Jacomb Hood came, bringing an Honourable Amateur, who asked the
Whistlers, Beardsley, and myself to dinner at one of the _cafés_ in the
Champs-Elysees. As we left the Rue du Bac, Whistler whispered to me,
'Those hairs--hairs everywhere!' I said to him, 'But you were very nice
and, of course, you'll come to dinner.' And, of course, he did not.

"I was working in Paris, making drawings and etchings of Notre-Dame.
I was in one of the high old houses of lodgings and studios, with
cabmen's _cafés_ and restaurants under them, on the Quai des Grands
Augustins. I had gone there because of the view of the Cathedral. Most
of the time I was at work up among the Devils of Notre-Dame, using
one of the towers as a studio by permission of the Government and the
Cardinal-Archbishop. One morning--it was in June--I heard the puffing
and groaning of someone climbing slowly the endless winding staircase,
and the next thing I saw was Whistler's head on the stairs. When he
got his breath and I had got over my astonishment, I began to ask why
he had come, or he began to explain the reason. He had learned where I
was staying, and he said he had been to the hotel, which, was, well! I
think it reminded him of his days _au sixième_, for that was the floor
I was on. He left a note written on the _buvette_ paper, in which he
said, 'Jolly the place seems to be!' After he had climbed up to my
rooms, the _patron_ told him where he possibly would find me, and then
the people at the foot of the tower said I was up above.

"He told me why he had come up. He was working on a series of etchings
of Paris. Some were just begun, others ready to bite, but a number
ought to be printed, and would I help him? I was pleased, and I said
I would. I took him about among the strange creatures that haunt the
place, introduced him to the old keeper with his grisly tales of
suicides and of sticking to the tower through the Commune, even when
the church was on fire, and showed him the awful bell that, at noon,
suddenly crashed in our ears, the uncanny cat that perched on crockets
and gargoyles, tried to catch sparrows with nothing below her, and made
from one parapet to another flying cuts over space when visitors came
up. But he did not like it, and was not happy until we were seated in
the back room of a restaurant across the street. He talked about the
printing, saying that I could help him, and he could teach me.

"Next morning I was at the Rue du Bac at nine. After I had waited for
what seemed hours, and had breakfasted with him and Mrs. Whistler
and we had a cigarette in the garden, where there was an American
rocking-chair for him--well, after this it was too late to go to the
studio. He brought out some of the plates which he had been working
on--the plates of little shops in the near streets--and we looked at
them, and that was all. So it went on the next day, and the next,
until on the third or fourth things came to a head, and I told him
that charming as this life was, either we must print or I must go back
to my drawing. In five minutes we were in a cab on our way to the
studio. He understood that, much as I admired his work and appreciated
him, I could not afford to pay for this appreciation and admiration
with my time. From the moment this was plain between us, there was no
interruption to our friendship for the rest of his life.

"We set to work. He peeled down to his undershirt with short sleeves,
and I saw in his muscles one reason why he was never tired. He put on
an apron. The plates, only slightly heated, if heated at all, were
inked and wiped, sometimes with his hand, at others with a rag, till
nearly clean, though a good tone was left. He painted the proofs on
the plate with his hand. I got the paper ready on the press and pulled
the proof, he inking and I pulling all the afternoon. As each proof
came off the press, he looked at it, not satisfied, for they were
all weak, and saying 'we'll keep it as the first proof and it will
be worth something some day.' Then he put the prints between sheets
of blotting-paper, and that night or the next, after dinner, trimmed
them with scissors and put them back between the folded sheets of
blotting-paper which were thrown on the table and on the floor. Between
the sheets the proofs dried naturally and were not squashed flat.

"The printing went on for several days, he getting more and more
dissatisfied, until I found an old man, Lamour, at the top of an old
house in the Rue de la Harpe, who could reground the plates. But
Whistler did not rebite them and never touched them until long after in
England.

"A number of plates had not been bitten and one hot Sunday afternoon
he brought them into the garden at the Rue du Bac. A chair was placed
under the trees and on it a wash-basin into which each plate was put.
Instead of pouring the diluted acid all over the plate in the usual
fashion drops were taken from the bottle on a feather, and the plate
painted with acid. The acid was coaxed, or rather used as one would
use water-colour, dragged and washed about. Depth and strength were
got by leaving a drop of acid on the lines where they were needed.
There was a little stopping-out of passages where greater delicacy was
required; when there was any, the stopping-out varnish was thinned
with turpentine, and Whistler, with a camel's-hair brush, painted
over the parts that did not need further biting. To me, it was a
revelation. Sometimes he drew on the plate. Instead of the huge crowbar
used by most etchers he worked with a perfectly balanced, beautifully
designed little needle three or four inches long, made for him by an
instrument-maker in Paris. He always carried several in a little silver
box. The ground on all the plates was bad and came off, and the proofs
he pulled afterwards in the studio were not at all what he wanted.
These were almost the last plates he etched.

"He was not painting very much, few people came to the studio, and he
went out little. No one was in the Rue du Bac but Mrs. Whistler for a
while, and there were complications with the servants and others--how
people who kept such hours, or no hours, could keep servants would
have been a mystery had not servants worshipped him. Almost daily the
_petit bleu_ asking me to dinner would come to me. Or Whistler would
appear in the morning, if I had not been to him the day before. In
those early June days I seldom met anyone at the house and we never
dressed for dinner, possibly because I had no dress clothes with me; he
would insist on my coming, telling me not to mind the stains or the
inkspots! One evening in the garden with them I found a little man,
a thorough Englishman in big spectacles, with a curious sniff, who
was holding a hose and watering the plants. He was introduced to me
as Mr. Webb, Whistler's solicitor, though in the process we came near
being drenched by the wobbling hose. It was that evening I first heard
the chant of the missionary brothers from over the great wall. A bell
sounded, and as the notes died away a wailing chant arose, went on for
a little, then died away as mysteriously as it came. Always, when it
did come, it hushed us. At dinner we should be cosy and jolly, Whistler
had said in asking me, and we were, and it was arranged that we should
go the next day to Fontainebleau.

"They called for me at the hotel in the morning. We drove to the Lyons
station, Whistler, his wife, Mr. Webb, and I. And Whistler had the
little paint-box which always went with him, though on these occasions
it was the rarest thing that he ever did anything, and we got to
Fountainebleau. We lunched in a garden. We didn't go to the palace, but
drove to Barbizon, stopping at Siron's, through the forest. I don't
think the views or the trees interested him at all. He was quiet all
the way, but no sooner were we back than we must hunt for 'old things':
'here was a palace and great people had lived here, there might be
silver, there might be blue and white, though really, now, you know,
you can find better blue and white, and cheaper silver, under the noses
of the Britons in Wardour Street than anywhere.' We did not find any
blue and white, or silver. But there were three folio volumes of old
paper, containing a collection of dried leaves, which we bought and
shared, and they were to him more valuable than the palace and the
Millet studio, which we never saw.

"It was late when we got back. The servants had gone to bed, and
Marguery's and the places where he liked to dine were shut. So we
bought what we could in the near shops and sat down in the Rue du Bac
to eat the supper we had collected. After we had finished I witnessed
his and Mrs. Whistler's wills, which Mr. Webb had brought with him from
London, and for this the long day had been a preparation.

"If I did not always accept Whistler's invitations he would reproach
me as an awful disappointment and a bad man. If I did not go to the
dinner, to which I was bidden at an hour's notice, he would tell me
afterwards of the much cool drink and encouraging refreshment he
had prepared for me. He always asked me to bring my friends. Mr. J.
Fulleylove had come over to 'do' Paris and I took him to the Rue du
Bac; '_les Pleins d'Amour_,' Whistler called him and Mrs. Fulleylove,
whose eyes he was always praising. They were working at St. Denis and
so was I, and one day Whistler and Mrs. Whistler came in the primitive
steam tram that starts from the Madeleine to see the place. We
lunched--badly--and he was bored with the church, though he had brought
lithograph paper and colours to make a sketch of it.

"One Sunday Mr. E. G. Kennedy posed in the garden for his portrait on
a small canvas or panel, and all the world was kept out. I had never
before seen Whistler paint. He worked away all afternoon, hissing to
himself, which, Mrs. Whistler said, he did only when things were going
well. If Kennedy shifted--there were no rests--Whistler would scream,
and he worked on and on, and the sun went down, and Kennedy stood
and Whistler painted, and the monks began their chant, and darkness
was coming on. The hissing stopped, a paint-rag came out, and, with
one fierce dash, it was all rubbed off. 'Oh, well,' was all he said.
Kennedy was limbered up and we went to dinner.

"After that, almost every night we dined together through that lovely
June, either with him in the Rue du Bac, or he came with Kennedy or me
to Marguery's or La Pérouse--once to St. Germain--or somewhere that was
delightful.

"The summer was famous in Paris for the 'Sarah Brown Students'
Revolution,' the row that grew out of the _Quat'z Arts_ Ball. Whistler
did not take the slightest interest in the demonstrations, in fact, did
not believe they were taking place, though I used to bring him reports
of the doings which culminated on July 4, my birthday, when he was to
have given me a dinner at Marguery's. I told him the streets of the
Quarter were barricaded and full of soldiers, but though he ridiculed
the whole affair, he decided to dine at home and to put off by telegram
the dinner he had ordered. I went round to the Boulevard St. Germain
to send the wire and found it barred with soldiers and police, and the
entire boulevard, as far as one could see, littered with hats and caps,
sticks and umbrellas. There had been a cavalry charge and this was the
result. We dined merrily, but Kennedy and I left early. There was a
great deal of rioting through the night, but that was the end of it.

"Mrs. Whistler had not been well, and they suddenly made up their minds
to go to Brittany, or Normandy, or somewhere on the coast. It was not
altogether a successful journey. Nature had gone back on him, he wrote
me, probably because of his exposure of her 'foolish sunsets'; the
weather was for tourists, the sea for goldfish in a bowl--the studio
was better than staring at a sea of tin. And the terrible things they
had eaten in Brittany made them ill. But the lithographs at Vitré
were made, also the _Yellow House, Lannion_, and the _Red House,
Paimpol_--his first elaborate essays in colour.

"Only a few impressions of the _Yellow House_ were ever pulled owing
to some accident to the stone. One of these I wanted to buy. Whistler
heard of it 'Well, you know, very flattering, but altogether absurd,'
he told me, and the print came with an inscription and the Butterfly."



CHAPTER XXXVII: PARIS CONTINUED. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-THREE AND
EIGHTEEN NINETY-FOUR.


After this summer, we both saw still more of Whistler whenever we were
in Paris. At the Rue du Bac we were struck by the few French artists at
his Sunday afternoons and the predominance of Americans and English.
It seemed to us that French artists might have been more cordial and
the French nation more sensible of the fact that a distinguished
foreign artist had come to France. During his life at least one or
two Americans, one a rich amateur, were made Commanders of the Legion
of Honour, while he remained an Officer. Others were made foreign
Members of the Academy of Fine Arts, but this, the highest honour for
artists in France, was never offered to him, nor was he elected to
International Juries.

With a few French and foreign artists his relations were friendly:
Boldini, Helleu, Puvis de Chavannes, Rodin, Alfred Stevens, Aman-Jean;
but the greater number were content to express their appreciation
at a distance. Mrs. Whistler spoke little French, and few French
artists speak any English. The men whom Whistler saw most were not
painters. Viélé-Griffin, Octave Mirbeau, Arsène Alexandre, the Comte de
Montesquiou, Rodenbach came to the Rue du Bac. Old friends, Drouet and
Duret, were sometimes there, though not often--his intimacy with them
and Oulevey was not really renewed until after Mrs. Whistler's death.
But of all who came, none endeared himself so much to Whistler as
Stéphane Mallarmé, poet, critic, friend, admirer. Once, at Whistler's
suggestion, he visited us in London, and, looking from our windows to
the Thames, declared he could understand Whistler better. Official
people strayed in from the Embassies, mostly English. American authors
and American collectors appeared on Sundays. Mr. Howells, once or
twice, came with his son and his daughter, of whom Whistler made
a lithograph. Journalists, English and American, wandered in. And
English and American artists came, or tried to come, in crowds. The
younger men of the Glasgow School, James Guthrie and John Lavery, were
welcomed. Then there were the Americans living in Paris: Walter Gay,
Alexander Harrison, Frederick MacMonnies, Edmund H. Wuerpel, John W.
Alexander, Humphreys Johnston, while Sargent and Abbey rarely missed an
opportunity of calling at the Rue du Bac.

Whistler was hardly less cordial to students. Milcendeau has told us
how he took his work--and his courage--with him and went to Whistler,
but, reaching the door, stood trembling at the thought of meeting
the Master and showing his drawings. As soon as Whistler saw the
drawings his manner was so charming--as if they were just two artists
together--that fear was forgotten, and Whistler proved his interest
by inviting Milcendeau to send the drawings to the International.
Whistler met American and English students not only at home, but at the
American Art Association in Montparnasse, then a bit of old Paris--a
little white house with green shutters, which the street had long
since left on a lower level, and at the back a garden where, under the
great trees, the cloth was laid in summer; just the house to please
Whistler. He sometimes went to the club's dinners and celebrations.
At one dinner on Washington's Birthday, after professional professors
and popular politicians had delivered themselves, he was finally and
rather patronisingly asked to speak by the President, who was either
an ambassador or a dry-goods storekeeper, the usual patron of American
art and supporter of American art institutions. Whistler said: "Now, as
to teaching. In England it is all a matter of taste, but in France at
least they tell you which end of the brush to stick in your mouth."

Mr. MacMonnies remembers another evening: "A millionaire friend of
Whistler's and mine spoke to me of giving a dinner to the American
artists in Paris, or rather to Whistler, and inviting the Paris
American artists. I dissuaded him, by saying they all hated one another
and would pass the evening more cheerfully by sticking forks into one
another under the table if they could. Better to invite all the young
fry--the American students. He gladly went into it. You can imagine
the wild joy of the small fry, who had, of course, never met Whistler.
Some got foolishly drunk, others got bloated with freshness, but they
all had a rare time, and Whistler, who sat at the head, more than any,
and he was delightfully funny. The millionaire was enchanted, and also
a distinguished American painter, who sat opposite to Whistler and who
was much respected by the youth. At one pause Whistler said, 'I went
to the Louvre this morning'--pause, all the youths' faces wide open,
expecting pearls of wisdom and points--'and I was amazed'--pause;
everybody open-eared--'to see the amazing way they keep the floors
waxed!'"

There is a story that one day at lunch-time he went into the courtyard
of the _Ecole des Beaux-Arts_ and walked slowly round, only to be
followed in a few minutes by a single line of students, each carrying a
mahlstick as he carried his cane, and as many as had them wearing two
_sous_ pieces for eye-glasses. He stopped and looked at the statues he
wanted to see and they stopped and looked, and they followed him, until
the circuit of the court was made, when they bowed each other out,
and it was not till long after that they learned who he was. American
students, if not so filled with their own sense of humour, are said to
have mobbed him on one occasion when he went to a _crémerie_, upsetting
tables and chairs to see him.

Mr. Walter Gay, who was much with Whistler during these years, gives us
his impressions:

"I first knew Whistler in the winter of '94, when he was established
in Paris, with the recently married Mrs. Whistler, in his apartment
of the Rue du Bac. The marriage was a happy one; she appreciated
fully his talent, he adored her, and when she died a few years later
was crushed at her loss. In spite of the great influence exercised
by Whistler on contemporary art, he was never lionised in Paris as
he had been in London; Paris is not a place for lions, there are
already too many local celebrities. Perhaps one of the reasons why
the French artists held aloof from Whistler was Mrs. Whistler's very
British attitude towards the nation. Once at a dinner of French artists
given at our house in honour of Whistler, Mrs. Whistler expressed the
most Gallophobe sentiments, complaining loudly of the inhospitality
of the French towards her husband. Although sixty years when I knew
him, he had the enthusiasm and energy of early years. His handsome
grey-blue eyes sparkled with the fire of youth--they were young eyes
in an old face. I think it strange that no one ever seems to emphasise
his singular beauty. Not only were his features finely cut, but the
symmetry of his figure, hands, and feet, retained until late in life,
was remarkable; in youth he must have been a pocket Apollo. His
conversational powers were extraordinary--he had a Celtic richness
of vocabulary.... He was supersensitive to criticism. Those who were
either indifferent or antipathetic to him, his imagination instantly
transformed into hidden enemies. That weakness of the artistic
temperament, _la folie de la persécution_, was deeply rooted in his
nature....

"No one can realise, who has not watched Whistler paint, the agony his
work gave him. I have seen him after a day's struggle with a picture,
when things did not go, completely collapse as from an illness. His
drawing cost him infinite trouble. I have known him work two weeks on
a hand, and then give it up discouraged.... My last interview with
Whistler took place in the spring of 1903, in London, about two months
before his death. Hearing that he was far from well, I went to see
him, and found that the rumour was only too well grounded. I spent the
afternoon with him; he was singularly gentle and affectionate, and
clung to me pathetically as though he too realised that it was to be
our last meeting in this world.

"Whatever his detractors may charge against him, it seems to me that
Whistler's faults and weaknesses sprang from an unbalanced mentality;
he was a _déséquilibré_, the common defect of great painters. The
unusual combination of artistic genius, literary gifts, and social
attractions which made up Whistler's personality was unique; there was
never anybody like him. And there is another quality of his which must
not be forgotten in the summing up of his character; underneath all his
vagaries and eccentricities one felt that indefinable yet unmistakable
being--a gentleman."

Mr. Alexander Harrison shows a different side of Whistler: "My meetings
with him were frequent and friendly. On one occasion, in a moment of
excitement, I had the audacity to tell him that I felt he ought to have
acted differently _vis-à-vis_ a jury of reception. His eyes flamed
like a rattlesnake's and I apologised, but insisted, and then dodged a
_little_. I afterwards realised that my naïve frankness had not lowered
me in his esteem, as to the last he was nice to me, having understood
that my admiration for his work was no greater than my affectionate
regard for him. I have never known a man of more sincere and genuine
impulse in ordinary human relations."

Now that Whistler was established for life, as he hoped, in a
fine studio, he was making up for the first unsettled years after
his marriage. He began a number of large portraits in the Rue
Notre-Dame-des-Champs. In 1893, Mr. A. J. Eddy, known, we believe, to
fame and Chicago as "the man Whistler painted," asked Whistler to paint
his portrait. He could stay in Paris only a few weeks, and Whistler
liked his American frankness in saying that his portrait must be
done by a certain date, and, though unaccustomed to be tied to time,
Whistler agreed. His description of Mr. Eddy was, "Well, you know, he
is the only man who ever did get a picture out of me on time, while I
worked and he waited!" Mr. Eddy writes of a sitter, no doubt himself,
who was with Whistler "every day for nearly six weeks and never heard
him utter an impatient word; on the contrary, he was all kindness."
And Mr. Eddy describes Whistler painting on in the twilight until it
was impossible to distinguish between the living man and the figure
on the canvas. He recalls the memory of those "glorious" days spent
in the studio, of the pleasant hour at noon when painter and sitter
breakfasted there together, of the long sittings, and the dinner
after at the Rue du Bac, or in one of the little restaurants where no
Parisian was more at home than Whistler. But steadily as the work went
on, the picture was not sent to Chicago until the following year. Mr.
J. J. Cowan, whose portrait dates from this time, tells us that for
_The Grey Man_, a small full-length, he gave sixty sittings, averaging
each three to four hours. He, like Whistler, was not in a hurry, but,
unlike Whistler, he eventually got tired, and a model was called in and
posed in Mr. Cowan's clothes. The last sittings were in London, three
years after. Even then Whistler wrote Mr. Cowan that the head needed
just the one touch, with the sitter there, so that perfection might be
assured. Another portrait was of Dr. Davenport of Paris.

The portraits of women were more numerous, and they promised to be
as fine as those done in the seventies and eighties. The work was
interrupted by the tragedy of Whistler's last years, and the more
important were never completed. For one, Miss Charlotte Williams,
of Baltimore, sat, but the painting disappeared, and only the
rare lithograph of her remains. Another lost portrait was a large
full-length of Miss Peck, of Chicago, now Mrs. W. R. Farquhar, which
we saw in many stages, and at last, as it seemed to us, finished.
She was painted standing, in evening dress, with her long white,
green-lined cloak thrown back a little, as he had painted Lady Meux.
It was full of the charm of youth, and the colour was a harmony in
silver and green. Miss Kinsella, a third American girl who posed in
the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, and in Fitzroy Street, secured her
portrait after Whistler's death. We remember it in the Fitzroy Street
studio, when it was so perfect that one more day's work would ruin
it. In no other did he ever paint flesh with such perfection. Face
and neck had the golden tone of Titian, with a subtlety of modelling
beyond the Venetian's powers, for in his later years it was to surpass
the Venetians he was trying. One day when E. went to the studio he had
just scraped down neck and bust, for no reason except that he could not
get the hand to come right with the rest. It was to be lovelier than
ever, he said. It was never repainted. It remains but a shadow of its
loveliness. When M. Rodin saw it at the London Memorial Exhibition, he
praised neck and bust to J. as "a beautiful suggestion of lace," so
beautiful in tone and modelling it still is. That posing for Whistler
was difficult we know from these ladies and many of his other sitters,
as well as from our experience. Over and over, when he wanted to work
on their portraits, he would telegraph to the last address he happened
to have, though sometimes the telegrams did not reach them till weeks
after in some distant part of the world. The fact that his sitters
were not always waiting for him not only upset him temporarily, but
sometimes stopped the subject altogether. One incident in connection
with the portrait of Miss Kinsella amused him. She holds an iris in
her hand. A real flower was got, but the flower would fade, and irises
were not easy to obtain. So he went to Liberty's to get some stuff of
the purple-violet tone he wanted out of which to make a flower. He
explained what he needed to the shopman, who solemnly informed him that
Messrs. Liberty only kept "art colours."

Portraits of Mrs. Charles Whibley were in progress about the same time:
_L'Andalouse, Mother of Pearl and Silver_, the unfinished _Tulip, Rose
and Gold_, and _Red and Black, The Fan_. Two others of this period are
of Mrs. Walter Sickert, _Green and Violet_, the second for which she
sat, and Lady Eden, _Brown and Gold_. He was also painting his own
portrait in the white jacket, which was changed into a black coat after
Mrs. Whistler's death, and a full-length in a long brown overcoat shown
in 1900 and not since.

The large canvases had to be left when he shut up the studio, but he
could carry his little portfolio of lithographic paper and box of
chalks everywhere, and during those two or three years he developed the
art of lithography as no one had before, he and Fantin-Latour being the
two chief factors in the revival of lithography in the nineties. He was
determined, he said, to make "a roaring success of it." In the streets
and at home he was constantly at work, and the result is the series of
lithographs of the shops and gardens and galleries of Paris and many
portraits. His interest in technique was tireless. He experimented on
transfer-paper and on stone. He hunted old paper as strenuous people
hunt lions. Drawings and proofs were for ever in the post between Paris
and London, where the Ways were transferring and printing for him, and
friends were for ever bringing paper from London or carrying drawings
tremblingly back from Paris. He was deep in experiments with colour,
and a few of the lithographs for _Songs on Stone_, already announced
by Mr. Heinemann, were at last ready. They were proved in Paris by
Belfont, but his shop closed in 1894, printer and stones vanished,
and this was the end of the proposed publication. Since Whistler's
death mysterious prints in black-and-white from the key stones have
turned up in Germany, but only a few prints in colour remain, no two
alike, trials in colour. He had looked for great things: "You know, I
mean them to wipe up the place before I get done," he said, and their
loss was a severe disappointment. Other lithographs, made then or
later, were published in the _Studio_, the _Art Journal_, _L'Estampe
Originale_, _L'Imagier_, the _Pagenat_, and one in our _Lithography
and Lithographers_. He never wanted to keep his work, no matter in
what medium, from the public. With commissions and experiments keeping
him busy in Paris, Whistler was, as he wrote to us in London, working
from morning to night, and in a condition for it he wouldn't change for
anything. He was compelled to change it only too soon.



CHAPTER XXXVIII: TRIALS AND GRIEFS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-FOUR TO
EIGHTEEN NINETY-SIX.


In 1894 interruptions came, some slight, but one so serious that life
and work were never the same again.

A tedious annoyance was caused by Du Maurier's _Trilby_ in _Harper's
Magazine_. Du Maurier represented the English students at Carrel's
(Gleyre's) as veritable Crichtons, while Whistler, under the name of
Joe Sibley, was ridiculed. Du Maurier's drawings left no doubt as to
the identity, for in one Whistler wears the _chapeau bizarre_ over his
curls. Another shows him running away from a studio fight, and the
text is more offensive. Joe Sibley is "'the Idle Apprentice,' the King
of Bohemia, _le roi des truands_, to whom everything was forgiven, as
to François Villon, _à cause de ses gentillesses_.... Always in debt
... vain, witty, and a most exquisite and original artist ... with an
unimpeachable moral tone.... Also eccentric in his attire ... the most
irresistible friend in the world as long as his friendship lasted,
but that was not for ever.... His enmity would take the simple and
straightforward form of trying to punch his ex-friend's head; and when
the ex-friend was too big he would get some new friend to help him....
His bark was worse than his bite ... he was better with his tongue than
his fists.... But when he met another joker he would just collapse
like a pricked bladder. He is now perched on such a topping pinnacle
(of fame and notoriety combined) that people can stare at him from two
hemispheres at once."

Du Maurier had posed as a friend for years, and in the _Pall Mall
Gazette_ Whistler protested against the insult. Du Maurier, to an
interviewer, expressed surprise; he thought the description of Joe
Sibley would recall the good times in Paris, and he pretended to be
amazed that Whistler did not agree. He claimed that he was one of
Whistler's victims, and quoted Sheridan Ford's pirated edition of _The
Gentle Art_:

"It was rather droll. Listen: 'Mr. Du Maurier and Mr. Wilde happening
to meet in the rooms where Mr. Whistler was holding his first
exhibition of Venice etchings, the latter brought the two face to
face, and, taking each by the arm, inquired, "I say, which one of you
two invented the other, eh?"' The obvious retort to that, on my part,
would have been that, if he did not take care, I would invent _him_,
but he had slipped away before either of us could get a word out.... I
did what I did in a playful spirit of retaliation for this little jibe
about me in his book."

The editor of _Harper's_ had not understood the offensive nature of the
passages. Whistler called his attention to them, and an apology was
published in the magazine (January 1895), the number was suppressed,
and Du Maurier was compelled to omit them, and to change Joe Sibley to
Bald Anthony in the book. Whistler, when the changes were submitted to
him, was satisfied. But he said:

"Well, you know, what would have happened to the new Thackeray if I
hadn't been willing? But I was gracious, and I gave my approval to
the sudden appearance in the story of an Anthony, tall and stout and
slightly bald. The dangerous resemblance was gone. And I wired--well,
you know, ha ha!--I wired to them over in America compliments and
complete approval of author's new and obscure friend, Bald Anthony!"

_Trilby_ was burlesqued at the Gaiety, and Whistler was dragged in as
_The Stranger_. His hat, overcoat, eye-glass, curls, and cane were
copied, but no one paid the slightest attention, and _The Stranger_
vanished after the first night.

Sometimes Whistler found insult where none was intended, as in the
case of a _Bibliography_ compiled in 1895 for the _Library Bulletin_
of the University of the State of New York--all the copies burnt, we
hear, in the fire at the State Capitol, Albany. It was an appreciation,
but it contained inaccuracies and quoted as authorities critics he
objected to, and he was more vexed by it than there was need. Another
annoyance was an anonymous article in _McClure's Magazine_; _Whistler,
Painter and Comedian_ (September 1896). He demanded an apology and
the suppression of the article, and both were granted. And so it went
on to the end; he was continually coming upon references to himself,
disfigured by misunderstanding, misrepresentation, and malice.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF MISS KINSELLA THE IRIS, ROSE AND GREEN

OIL

In the possession of Miss Kinsella

(_See page 325_)]

[Illustration: WHISTLER AT HIS PRINTING PRESS IN THE STUDIO, RUE
NOTRE-DAME-DES-CHAMPS

From a photograph by M. Dornac

(_See page 311_)]

These worries occupied his time and tried his temper. But he was
overwhelmed late in 1894 by a trouble infinitely more tragic. His wife
was taken ill with the terrible disease, cancer. They came to London to
consult the doctors in December. First they stayed at Long's Hotel in
Bond Street, Mrs. Whistler surrounded by her numerous sisters, the two
Paris servants, Louise and Constant, in attendance; then Mrs. Whistler
was under a doctor's care in Holles Street, and Whistler stopped with
his brother in Wimpole Street. Those who loved him would like to forget
his misery during the weeks and months that followed. Work was going on
somehow; not painting, that waited in Paris, but lithography--several
portraits of Lady Haden, a drawing in Wellington Street, and others.
But he told Mr. Way afterwards that he wanted them all destroyed; he
should not have worked when his heart was not in it: "It was madness on
my part." He brought proofs to show us. Almost every afternoon he would
take J. to Way's, where the lithographs were being transferred to the
stone and printed. He would lunch or dine with us, keeping up his brave
front, though we knew what was in his heart. He had not been in his
"Palatial Residence" two years before it was closed, and the canvases
were left untouched in the "Stupendous Studio." New honours and new
successes came: in 1894 the Temple Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania
Academy, in 1895 a Gold Medal from Antwerp, and innumerable
commissions. It was just as fortune smiled that the blow fell.

The Eden trial, which struck many as an unnecessary and almost farcical
episode in his life, distracted him during these tragic months. His
work ceased for weeks at a time, and he devoted himself to the case.
His journeys to Paris were frequent and his correspondence enormous.
The case was fought out in the courts of France. It arose out of the
uncertainty as to the price which Sir William Eden should pay for his
wife's portrait. He was introduced to Whistler by Mr. George Moore, to
whom Whistler had mentioned one hundred to one hundred and fifty pounds
for a sketch in water-colour or pastel. Whistler became interested
in his sitter and made a small full-length oil, for which he would
have asked a far larger sum. His irritation can be understood when
Sir William Eden attempted to make him accept as "a valentine"--for
it was paid on February 14--one hundred pounds in a sealed envelope.
Whistler felt that the amount should have been left to him to decide.
He refused to give up the picture, he cashed the cheque, and he did not
return the money until legal proceedings were taken by the Baronet.
Before the case came into court he wiped out the head. Even his friends
thought that Whistler made a grave mistake and prejudiced his case
when he cashed the cheque, instead of throwing it after the Baronet,
who, on his hasty retreat from the studio, Whistler said, protested
and threatened all the way down the six flights, while he from the top
urged the Baronet not to expose his nationality by so unseemly a noise
in a public place.

Whistler went to Paris for the trial before the Civil Tribunal on March
6, 1895. His advocates were Maître Ratier, by whose side he sat in
court, and Maître Beurdeley, a collector of his etchings. Sir William
Eden failed to appear. Whistler was ordered to deliver the portrait
as painted, a penalty to be imposed in case of delay; to refund
twenty-five hundred francs, his lowest price; to pay in addition one
thousand francs damages. The judge stated that he was in honour bound
not to deface the portrait after he had completed it, and that an
artist must carry out his contract.

To Whistler the judgment was unjust; he appealed in the Cour de
Cassation, and the matter dragged on until after Mrs. Whistler's death.
In England "An Artist" (J.) tried to raise a fund to pay the expenses
of the trial, in order "to show in some practical form artists'
appreciation for the genius of James McNeill Whistler." His appeal was
responded to by only one other artist, Mr. Frederick MacMonnies, and
was as unsuccessful as the subscription started after the Ruskin trial
in 1878.

Mr. George Moore had been the go-between when the portrait was
commissioned, Sir William Eden's ally in the legal business, and a
conspicuous figure in the newspaper muddle. After the trial Whistler
wrote Moore a scathing letter. Moore's answer was to taunt Whistler
with old age. This was published in the _Pall Mall Gazette_ and
reprinted in French papers. Whistler was in France and he sent Moore
a challenge. Whistler's seconds were M. Octave Mirbeau and M.
Viélé-Griffin. Their challenge remained unanswered, but after several
days Moore relieved his feelings to a reporter. London looked upon the
challenge as Whistler's crowning joke. It was no joke to Moore, who was
sufficiently conversant with French manners to know how his conduct
would be received in Paris. Whistler's seconds sent a _procès verbal_
to the Press, stating that they had waited eight days for an answer,
and not having received one, they considered their mission terminated.

Thus before the world Whistler kept up the game, though in the Rue du
Bac life was a tragedy. Mrs. Whistler had returned more ill than ever.
Miss Ethel Philip was married from the house early in the summer to Mr.
Charles Whibley, and her sister, Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip, took her
place.

After the trial Whistler went back to work. He sent _The Little White
Girl_ to the International Exhibition at Venice; he exhibited the
second portrait of Mrs. Sickert at the Glasgow Institute; he chose six
lithographs for the Centenary Exhibition in Paris. A head of Carmen,
his model, was ready for the Portrait Painters in London. When in the
late summer he returned to England, and, with Mrs. Whistler, settled at
the Red Lion Hotel, Lyme Regis, he arranged a show of his lithographs
in London. The Society of Illustrators, of which he was Vice-President,
was preparing an anthology, _The London Garland_, edited by W. E.
Henley, illustrated by members, and published by Messrs. Macmillan. J.
asked him to contribute an illustration to a sonnet of Henley's. But
he had to abandon this plan and allow a Nocturne to be reproduced. He
made several lithographs at Lyme Regis: glowing forges, dark stables
with horses an animal painter would envy, the smith, and the landlord.
"Absolute failures, some," he told us sadly; "others, well, you know,
not bad!" Two of the pictures painted at Lyme Regis are masterpieces:
_The Little Rose of Lyme Regis_ and _The Master Smith_. In these he
solved the problem of carrying on his work as he wished until it was
finished. There also he painted the only large landscape we know of:
the white houses of the town, the hill-side with trees beyond.

While he was still in Dorset a prize was awarded him at Venice.
Several prizes in money were given in different sections to artists
of different nationalities. Whistler was awarded two thousand five
hundred francs by the City of Murano, the seventh on the list. He knew
the "enemies," foresaw the prattle there would be of the seventh-hand
compliment, and forestalled it by explaining in the Press how the
prizes had been awarded, his being equal to the first.

The exhibition of his lithographs was held at the Fine Art Society's
in December 1895. Seventy were shown, mostly of the work of the last
few years, and J. wrote an introduction to the catalogue, the only
time he asked anybody to "introduce" him. There were no decorations in
the gallery, nor was the catalogue in brown paper, save twenty-five
copies, but the prints were in his frames. English artists became
interested in lithography because they were asked to contribute to the
Centenary Exhibition in Paris, and, at the call of Leighton, they tried
their hands at it, more or less unsuccessfully. The contrast was great
between their work shown at Mr. Dunthorne's gallery and Whistler's,
whose prints alone are destined to live.

Whistler derived little pleasure from his triumph. The winter was
spent moving from place to place. His plans were made to go to New
York to consult an American specialist, forgetting as well as he could
"the vast far-offness" of America. But he stayed in London, first at
Garlant's Hotel, then in apartments in Half-Moon Street, later at the
De Vere Gardens Hotel, and then at the Savoy. Work of one sort or
another marked these moves: the lithograph of _Kensington Gardens_
from the De Vere Hotel; at the Savoy most pathetic drawings of his
wife, _The Siesta_ and _By the Balcony_, and the Thames from the
hotel windows. He had during the first months no studio in London. He
worked for a while in Mr. Walter Sickert's; Mr. Sargent lent his early
in 1896, when there was talk of a lithograph of Cecil Rhodes and a
portrait of Mr. A. J. Pollitt, of whom he made a lithograph, though the
painting, begun later in Fitzroy Street, was destroyed.

He interested himself in the experiments of others. In the winter of
1895 J. was asked by the _Daily Chronicle_ to edit the illustration
of a series of articles on London in support of the Progressive
County Council. It was an event of importance to illustrators,
process-men, and printers: the first effort in England for the artistic
illustration of a daily paper. The _Daily Graphic_ was illustrated,
but its draughtsmen were trained to adapt their drawings to the
printer. The scheme now was to oblige the printer to adapt himself to
the illustrator. Every illustrator of note in London contributed.
Burne-Jones' frontispiece to William Morris' _News from Nowhere_ was
enlarged and printed successfully. J. asked Whistler to let him try
the experiment of enlarging one of the Thames etchings. Whistler was
interested. _Black Lion Wharf_ was selected and printed in the _Daily
Chronicle_, February 22, 1895, the very day of the month, Washington's
Birthday, when, ten years later, the London Memorial Exhibition
opened. With its publication the success of the series was complete,
not politically, for the twenty-four drawings were said to have lost
the Progressives twenty-five seats. The etching stood the enlarging
superbly. J. made the proprietors pay for the print, the first time
Whistler was paid for the use of one of his works not made as an
illustration.

Whistler came to us almost daily. Late one afternoon he brought his
transfer-paper, and made a lithograph of J. as he sprawled comfortably,
and uncomfortably had to keep the pose, in an easy-chair before the
fire. Whistler made four portraits in succession of J. and one of E.,
each in an afternoon. He drew on as the light faded, and the portrait
of E. was done while the firelight flickered on her face and on his
paper. Then he told us he had taken a studio in Fitzroy Street to
paint a large full-length of J. in a Russian cloak--_The Russian
Schube_--which he thought the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts might
like to have. But J. was called away, Mrs. Whistler grew rapidly worse,
the scheme was dropped never to be taken up again.

On other afternoons he and J. would go to Way's, where the Savoy
drawings were put on the stone. The lithotint of _The Thames_ was
done on a stone sent to the hotel. Drawings made in Paris, Lyme
Regis, London were transferred and gone all over with chalk, stump,
scraper. He worked in a little room adjoining Mr. Way's office, the
walls of which were covered with pastels and water-colours by him and
C. E. Holloway. There he drew the portraits of Mr. Thomas Way in the
firelight, never stopping until dark, when Mr. Way would bring out some
rare old liqueur, and there was a rest before he hurried back to the
Savoy. His nights were spent sitting up by his wife. He slept a little
in the morning and usually came to us in the afternoon, at times so
exhausted that we feared more for him than for her.

The studio at No. 8 Fitzroy Street was a huge place at the back of the
house, one flight up, reached by a ramshackle glass-roofed passage.
The portrait of Mr. Pollitt was started and one of Mr. Robert Barr's
daughter, which has disappeared. Mr. Cowan sat again, and another was
begun of Mr. S. R. Crockett, who describes the sittings:

"I don't think he liked me at first. Someone had told him I was a
Philistine of Askelon.... He told me lots about his early times in
London and Paris, but all in fragments, just as the thing occurred to
him. Like an idiot, I took no notes. Lots, too, about Carlyle and his
sittings, as likely to interest a Scot. He had got on unexpectedly well
with True Thomas, chiefly by letting him do the talking, and never
opening his mouth, except when Carlyle wanted him to talk. Carlyle
asked him about Paris, and was unexpectedly interested in the _cafés_,
and so forth. Whistler told him the names of some--Riche, Anglais,
Véfour, and Foyot and Lavenue on the south side. Carlyle seemed to be
mentally taking notes. Then he suddenly raised his head and demanded,
'Can a man get a chop there?'

"Concerning my own sittings, he was very particular that I should
always be in good form--'trampling' as he said--otherwise he would
tell me to go away and play.... Mr. Fisher Unwin had arranged for a
lithograph, but Whistler said he would make a picture like a postage
stamp, and next year all the exhibitions would be busy as anthills with
similar 'postage stamp' portraits. 'Some folk think life-size means six
foot by three; I'll show them!' he said more than once. I wanted to
shell out as he went on, and once, being flush (new book or something),
I said I had fifty pounds which was annoying me, and I wished he would
take it. He was very sweet about it, and said he understood. Money
burnt a hole in his pocket, too, but he could not take any money, as he
might never finish the work. Any day his brush might drop, and he could
not do another stroke.

"It was a bad omen! His wife grew worse. He sent me word not to come.
She died, and I never saw him after. I wish you could tell me what
became of that picture. He called it _The Grey Man_."

This is another example of Whistler's repetition of titles. Mr.
Cowan's portrait, painted the same year, was _The Grey Man_ too. Of
Mr. Crockett's, Whistler said to us that Crockett was delighted with
it as far as it had gone, and he was rather pleased with it himself.
He painted several of these small full-lengths, which were to show
the fallacy of the life-size theory and of the belief that the
importance of a portrait depends on the size of the canvas. Kennedy,
after the portrait destroyed in Paris, stood for a second, now in the
Metropolitan Museum; Mr. Arnold Hannay for another; C. E. Holloway for
_The Philosopher_, which Whistler considered particularly successful.

In the spring Whistler moved his wife from the Savoy to St. Jude's
Cottage, Hampstead Heath, rented from Canon and Mrs. Barnett. After
this he began to give up hope. It was a sad day when for the first time
he admitted, "We are very, very bad." And we understood that the end
was near the afternoon when he, the most fastidious, appeared wearing
one black and one brown shoe, and explaining that he had a corn. But,
indeed, many times it seemed as if in his despair he did not know what
he was doing. The last day Mr. Sydney Pawling met him walking, running
across the Heath, looking at nothing, seeing no one. Mr. Pawling,
alarmed, stopped him. "Don't speak! Don't speak! It is terrible!" he
said, and was gone. That was the end.

Mrs Whistler died on May 10 and was buried at Chiswick on the 14th. We
have heard that the funeral was arranged for the 13th, but Whistler,
objecting to the date, postponed it a day, and Mrs. Whistler was buried
on her birthday. He never would do anything on the 13th if he could
help it.

We were abroad, but the first Sunday after E.'s return he came and
asked her to go with him to the National Gallery. There he showed her
the pictures "Trixie" loved, standing long before Tintoretto's _Milky
Way_, her favourite. There was no talk about pictures--Canaletto was
barely looked at--there was no talk about anything, and the tragedy
that could not be forgotten was never referred to. But M. Paul Renouard
was in the Gallery and came to Whistler with the word of comfort, from
which he shrank. During the first few months after Mrs. Whistler's
death, in the shock of his sorrow and loss, Whistler made her sister,
Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip, his ward, and drew up a new will
appointing her his heiress and executrix; eventually cancelling his
former bequests, and leaving everything to her absolutely.



CHAPTER XXXIX: ALONE. THE YEAR EIGHTEEN NINETY-SIX.


Whistler stayed a short time at Hampstead with his sisters-in-law,
and then went to Mr. Heinemann at Whitehall Court, where he remained,
on and off, for two or three years, spending only the periods of Mr.
Heinemann's absence at Garlant's Hotel or in Paris. He was with us day
after day. Little notes came from the studio to ask if we would be in
and alone in the evening, and, if so, he would dine with us. At first
he would not join us if we expected anyone. He liked to sit and talk,
he said, but he could not meet other people. He saw few outside the
studio, except Mr. Heinemann, Mr. Kennedy, and ourselves. We went to
the studio, and often he and J. sketched together in the streets.

For these sketching expeditions Whistler prepared beforehand the
colours he wanted to use, and if the day turned out too grey or too
radiant for his scheme nothing was done. The chosen colours were
mixed, and little tubes, filled with them, were carried in his small
paint-box, which held also the tiny palette with the pure colours
arranged on it, his brushes, and two or three small panels. Many
studies were made. The most important was of St. John's, Westminster.
He loved the quiet corner, now destroyed, and he went there many
times. He worked away, his top hat jammed down on his nose, sitting
on a three-legged stool, his paint-box on his knee, the panel in it,
beginning at once in colour on the panel, usually finishing the sketch
in one afternoon, though he took two over the church. The painting was
simply done, commencing with the point of interest, the masses put
in bigly, the details worked into them. Just as in the studio, five
minutes after he had begun he became so absorbed in his work that he
forgot everything else until it grew too dark to see. When ladies would
come and recognise him, he stopped, got up, and spoke to them, always
charmingly.

[Illustration: ILLUSTRATION TO LITTLE JOHANNES

PORTRAIT

DRAWINGS ON WOOD

In the Pennell Collection, Library of Congress, Washington

(_See page 270_)]

[Illustration: WATER-COLOUR LANDSCAPE

Loaned by Mrs. Mortimer Menpes]

He made little journeys during the summer, one to Rochester and
Canterbury, with Mrs. Whibley and Miss Birnie Philip. But, disgusted
with the inns and the food, he came back after a day or so. Another was
with Mr. Kennedy, who writes us:

"It was agreed that Whistler and myself should go to France. Neither of
us had any idea _where_ we were going except to Havre. We arrived in
the early morning, and after he got shaved and had coffee, we took the
boat to Honfleur, which, as you know, has a tidal service. 'Do you know
where we are going?' I said to him. 'No, I don't,' said he. 'Well,'
said I, 'there is a white-whiskered, respectable-looking old gentleman;
perhaps he knows the lay of the ground. Tip him a stave.'

"So Whistler asked him about the hotels in Honfleur. There were
two--the Cheval Blanc on the quay, and the Ferme de St. Siméon on
the outskirts. The Cheval was so dirty that I got the only cab, and,
piling the luggage on it ourselves, drove off to the farm. Fortunately,
there were two vacant rooms, and we stayed there a week. The cooking
was excellent, and, of course, _Madame_ knew who _Monsieur Vistlaire_
was. Whistler used to kick up a row every night with me about the
'ridiculous British' to divert his mind, I imagine, and sometimes my
retorts were so sharp that I said to myself, 'All is over between us
now.' But he used to bob up serenely in the morning, as if nothing had
happened, and after _déjeuner_ he would take his small box of colours
and paint in the large church. I used to stroll about the town and look
in occasionally to see that he came to no harm. It was here that he
said he was going over to Rome some day, and when I said, 'Don't forget
to let me know, so that I may be on hand to see you wandering up the
aisle in sackcloth and ashes, with a candle in each hand, or scrubbing
the floor!' he said, in a tone of horrified astonishment, 'Good God!
O'K.,[11] is it possible? Why, I thought they would make me a hell of a
swell of an abbot, or something like that.'

"It was amusing to see him manoeuvre to get near the big kitchen fire,
overcoat on. He was a true American in his liking for heat, and the
way he would sidle into the kitchen, which opened on out-of-doors, all
the time mildly flattering _Madame_, was very characteristic. We went
to Trouville one day on the diligence, and had a capital _déjeuner_ at
the Café de Paris, before which Whistler said, 'We must do this _en
Prince_, O'K.!' 'All right, your Highness, I'm with you!' Afterwards,
on the beach, he went to sleep on a chair, leaning back against a
bath-house, his straw hat tipped on his nose. It was funny, but sleep
after luncheon was a necessity to him. Coming back to London, in the
harbour of Southampton, after listening to the usual unwearying talk
against the British, I said, 'Oh, be reasonable!' 'Why should I?' said
he."

The Ferme de St. Siméon has been called the Cradle of Impressionism.
It was here that Boudin lived and most of the Impressionists came, and
round about they found their subjects.

Later on Whistler spent a few days at Calais in the Meurice, Sterne's
Hotel, where he was miserable. Then he tried to find J. at Whitby,
where they missed each other, and where he said the glitter of the
windows made the town look like the Crystal Palace.

Whistler recovered slowly, and journeys helped him less than work in
the studio, where, by degrees, he returned to the schemes so sadly
interrupted. We remember his coming to us with Mr. Kennedy one Sunday
afternoon, bringing up our three flights of stairs _The Master Smith_
to show it to us once again before it went to America. Mr. Kennedy
had captured it, fearful of a touch being added. It was placed on one
chair, Whistler, on another facing it, wretched at the thought of
parting with it. It was always a wrench to let a picture go.

After a while he did not mind meeting a few people. A man he liked to
see was Timothy Cole. There was a great scheme that he should make a
series of drawings on wood and Cole engrave them. Cole brought the
blocks prepared for him to draw on. But that is the last we or Cole
heard about it, though we saw the blocks frequently at Fitzroy Street.
Mr. Cole says:

"I did not speak to him more than once after I had given him the wood
blocks. I did not think it prudent to press him about the matter,
fearing he might get disgusted and give it up.... The blocks were the
size of the _Century_ page."

Cole gave Whistler some of his prints, and they pleased Whistler very
much, though he rarely cared to own the pictures and prints of other
artists. Once when an etcher gave him a not very wonderful proof, he
tore it up, saying, "I do not collect etchings, I make them! I do not
collect the works of my contemporaries!" With the exception of his
portrait by Boxall we never saw a scrap of anyone else's work about
his studio or his house, save the forgery someone sent him which he
kept and hung for a while. Another side to Mr. Cole was his endless
practical jokes. He used to do extraordinary things, to Whistler's
amusement. On one point only they were not in sympathy: Mr. Cole's
theories of diet. One evening at dinner Cole told us that he and his
family were living chiefly on rhubarb tops, they have such a "foody"
taste, his son thought. "Dear me, poor fellow," said Whistler, "it
sounds as if once, long long ago, he had really eaten, and still has
a dim memory of what food is!" "And spinach," Cole added, "it's fine.
We eat it raw, it's wonderful the things it does for you!" "But what
does it do for you?" Whistler asked, and Cole began a dissertation on
the juices of the stomach. "Well, you know," Whistler told him, "when
you begin to talk about the stomach and its juices, it's time to stop
dining." After that, Cole managed to dismiss his theories and dine like
other people when with us.

Professor John Van Dyke was in London that fall, and Whistler was
willing to come to meet him. A long darn in a tablecloth afterwards
bore witness to the animation of one of those dinners--Whistler's
knife brought down sharply on the table to emphasise his argument. The
subject was _Las Meniñas_, which he had never seen, which everyone
else had seen. Velasquez painted the picture just as you see it,
he maintained; no one agreed. Perspectives and plans were drawn on
the unfortunate cloth, chairs were pushed back, the situation grew
critical. Whistler was forced to yield slowly, when, of a sudden,
his eyes fell on Van Dyke's feet in long, pointed shoes, then the
American fashion, their points carried to a degree of fineness no
English bootmaker could rival. "My God, Van Dyke, where did you get
your shoes?" Whistler asked. We could not go on fighting after that;
defeat was avoided. Though Whistler had never been to Madrid, it seemed
as if he had seen the pictures, so familiar was he with them, and
though he was at times not right about them, his interest was endless.
We remember "Bob" Stevenson telling him, to his great delight, how,
one summer day with J. in the Long Gallery of the Prado where _Las
Meniñas_ then hung, an old peasant dressed in faded blue-green came
and sat down on the green bench in front, and straightway he became
part of the picture, so true was its atmosphere. There are legends of
Whistler's descent into a _Casa des Huespedes_ in Madrid with Sargent
and J., but J. never was there and Sargent denies it. It is another
legend. Whistler could get more from a glance at a photograph than most
painters from six months' copying.

Another evening Claude was the subject--Claude compared to Turner.
Whistler could never see the master Englishman adored in Turner; not
because of Ruskin, for Mr. Walter Greaves told us that years before the
Ruskin trial Whistler "reviled Turner." Mr. Cole in 1896 was engraving
Turners in the National Gallery, and Whistler insisted on their
inferiority to the Claudes, so amazingly demonstrated in Trafalgar
Square, where Turner invited the comparison disastrous to him. The
argument grew heated, and Whistler adjourned it until the next morning,
when he arranged to meet Cole and J. in the Gallery. Whistler compared
the work of the two artists hanging side by side, as Turner wished:

"Well, you know, you have only to look. Claude is the artist who knows
there is no painting the sun itself, and so he chooses the moment
after the sun has set, or has hid behind a cloud, and its light fills
the sky, and that light he suggests as no other painter ever could.
But Turner must paint nothing less than the sun, and he sticks on a
blob of paint--let us be thankful that it isn't a red wafer, as in
some of his other pictures--and there isn't any illusion whatever, and
the Englishman lifts up his head in ecstatic conceit with the English
painter, who alone has dared to do what no artist would ever be fool
enough to attempt! And look at the architecture. Claude could draw a
classical building as it is; Turner must invent, imagine architecture
as no architect could design it, and no builder could put it up, and as
it never would stand up--the old amateur!"

They went on to the Canalettos and Guardis Whistler could not weary
of--to Canaletto's big red church and the tiny Rotunda at Vauxhall
with the little figures, from which Hogarth learned so much. Whistler
always acknowledged Guardi's influence, though it had not led him in
Venice to paint pictures like Guardi or Canaletto either. And he never
tired of pointing out that great artists like Guardi and Canaletto
and Velasquez, who were born and worked in the South, did not try to
paint sunlight, but kept their work grey and low in tone. That day at
the National Gallery, before he could finish explaining the similarity
between his work and Guardi's, the talk came to an end, for half the
copyists in the room had left their easels. He stopped. He could not
talk to an audience which he was not sure was sympathetic. Sure of
sympathy, he would talk for ever in praise of the luminosity of Claude,
the certainty of Canaletto, the wonderful tone of Guardi, the character
and colour of Hogarth. Another Italian about whom he was enthusiastic
was Michael Angelo Caravaggio, admiring his things in the Louvre.
Whistler maintained that the exact knowledge, the science, of the Old
Masters was the reason of their greatness. The modern painter has a
few tricks, a few fads; these give out, and nothing is left. Knowledge
is inexhaustible. Tintoretto did not find his way until he was forty.
Titian was painting in as masterly a manner in his last year as in his
youth. And speaking of the cleverness--a term he hated--of the modern
man, he said:

[Illustration: THE MASTER SMITH OF LYME REGIS

OIL

In the Boston Museum of Fine Arts

(_See page 331_)]

[Illustration: THE SMITH

PASSAGE DU DRAGON

LITHOGRAPH. W. 73

(_See page 326_)]

"Think of the finish, the delicacy, the elegance, the repose of a
little Terborgh, Vermeer, Metsu. These were masters who could paint
interiors, chandeliers, and all the rest; and what a difference between
them and the clever little interiors now!"

In the autumn Whistler established Miss Birnie Philip and her mother in
the Rue du Bac and returned to Mr. Heinemann's flat at Whitehall Court,
making it so much his home that before long he was laughingly alluding
to "my guest Heinemann." It is not likely that the two would ever have
parted had not Mr. Heinemann married and even then Whistler stayed with
him as long as his health remained good, dependent on the friendship
formed late in life with a man many years younger. When Mr. Heinemann
was away he complained that London was duller and blacker than ever.
Whistler shrank from condolence in his great grief or from a revival of
the memories of those terrible weeks. His host was careful or we would
invite Whistler to us if anybody was expected at Whitehall Court. After
three or four years Mr. Heinemann's married life ended abruptly, and
Whistler at once suggested that they should go back to the old way.
Mr. Heinemann took another flat in Whitehall Court with this idea. But
before the plan could be realised Whistler died.

In the autumn of 1896 Mr. Henry Savage Landor, back from Japan and
Korea, also stayed with Mr. Heinemann; "a rare fellow, full of real
affection," Whistler said of him. They sat up for hours together night
after night. Whistler slept badly, and Mr. Landor can do with less
sleep than most people. There was a skull in the drawing-room that
Mr. Landor tells us Whistler sketched over and over again, while they
talked till morning. When they drew the curtains it was day; then
Whistler dressed, breakfasted, and went to the studio. He brought us
stories of Mr. Landor; the way in which he would start for the ends of
the earth as if to stroll in Piccadilly, "leaving the costume of travel
to the Briton crossing the Channel"; or, in light shoes, "outwalk the
stoutest-shod gillie over Scotch moors." Then Whistler brought us
Mr. Landor, with whom our friendship dates from the morning when, at
Whistler's request, he sat Japanese fashion on the floor in front of
our fire, a rug wrapped round him for kimono, and devoured imaginary
rice with pencils for chopsticks. When Mr. Landor had his horrible
experiences in Thibet and the story of his tortures was telegraphed
to Europe, Whistler was the first to send him a cable rejoicing at
his escape. Whistler also took a fancy while in Whitehall Court to
Mr. Heinemann's brother Edmund who was, Whistler said, "something in
the City," who saw to one or two investments for him, and whom he
christened the "Napoleon of Finance" and described as "sitting in a
tangled web of telegraphs and telephones." He never had invested money
before, and it was with pride that he deposited at the bank his scrip
and collected his dividends. To end a discussion about the City Mr.
Edmund Heinemann once said to him, "You ain't on the Stock Exchange!"
"Well," said Whistler, "you just thank your stars, Eddy, I ain't,
because if I was there wouldn't be much room for you! What!"

Evening after evening he would linger in the studio until he could see
no longer; keeping dinner waiting at Whitehall Court, so that no time
could ever be fixed. Arriving, he would mix cocktails, an art in which
he excelled and must have learned in the days when he stayed away from
the Coast Survey. If it did not suit him to dine at Whitehall Court
he would write or wire to say he could dine with us if we liked; or
that he had amazing things to tell us; should he come? or that he was
sure we were both wanting to see him; or Heinemann's servant, Payne,
would announce his coming; or he would drive straight from the studio,
reaching us sometimes before the notes he had sent, or with the wires
unsent in his pocket; almost the only time we have known him willingly
not to dress for dinner. On rare occasions he came in after we had
dined, demanded the _fortune du pot_ of our small establishment, and
was content no matter how meagre that fortune might prove, though if it
included "a piece of American cake," or anything sweet, he was better
pleased. He grumbled only over our Sunday supper, which was cold in
English fashion, out of deference to Bowen, our old English servant.
Then he would bring Constant, his valet, model, and cook, to make an
onion soup or an omelette. Constant was succeeded by a little Belgian
called Marie, who was supposed to look after the studio, and who, when
he stayed at Garlant's and we dined with him there, would be summoned
to dress the salad and make the coffee. It was not long after this
that, by the doctor's advice, he gave up coffee and stopped smoking
too. Few men ever ate less than Whistler, but few were more fastidious
about what they did eat. He made the best of our English cooking while
it lasted, but he was glad when Bowen was replaced by Louise and then
Augustine, who were French and who could make the soups, salads, and
dishes he liked, and who did not hesitate to scold him when he was late
and ruined the dinner.

These meetings must have been pleasant to Whistler as to us; there
were weeks when he came every evening. On his arrival he might be
silent, but after his nap he would begin talking, and his talk was
as good on the last evening with us as on the first. We shall always
regret that we made no notes of what he said, though the charm of
his talk would have eluded a shorthand reporter. Much can never be
forgotten. In "surroundings of antagonism" he wrapped this talk as
well as himself in "a species of misunderstanding" and deliberately
mystified, bewildered, and aggravated the company. But when disguise
was not necessary, and he talked at his ease, he impressed everyone
with his sanity of judgment, breadth of interest, and keenness of
intellect. His reading was extensive, though we never ceased to wonder
when he found time for it, save during sleepless nights. His talk
abounded in quotations, especially from the Bible, that "splendid mine
of invective," he described it. His diversity of knowledge was as
unexpected as his extensive reading, and we felt that he knew things
intuitively, just as by some uncanny faculty he heard everything said
about him. When he chose he held the floor and was then at his best.
"I am not arguing with you, I am telling you," he would say, and he
would lose his temper, which was violent as ever, but he was friendlier
than before when it was over. He liked to hear the last gossip, and
reproached us if we had none for him. More than once he told E. her
discretion amounted positively to indiscretion; he was sure she had
a cupboard full of skeletons, and some day, when she was pulling the
strings of one carefully to put it back in place, the whole lot would
come rattling down about her ears. And so, the shadow of sorrow in the
background, the evenings went by that winter in the little dining-room
which had been Etty's studio where the huge Edinburgh pictures were
painted.

The Eden affair was still dragging on, and Whistler was disgusted to
find English artists as afraid to support him as at the Ruskin trial.
One day in Bond Street he met a Follower, just returned to town,
arm-on-arm with "the Baronet." The Follower at once left a card at
Fitzroy Street. Whistler wrote "Judas Iscariot" on it and sent it back
to him. A few weeks later the New English Art Club hung Sir William
Eden's work, and with it, he said, "their shame, upon their walls."
He complimented them, much to their discomfort, on their appetite for
"toad." To clear the air, which had become sultry in the art clubs and
studios, we invited Professor Fred Brown and Dr. D. S. MacColl to meet
him one evening at dinner, and discuss things. Professor Brown had
another engagement. Dr. MacColl came, and Whistler, who did not mind
how hard a man fought if he fought at all, continued on terms with him.
But the New English Art Club he never forgave.

A show of J.'s lithographs of Granada and the Alhambra was arranged
at the Fine Art Society's during December 1896, and for the catalogue
Whistler wrote an introductory note, and another for a show of Phil
May's drawings in the same gallery. He designed the cover for Mr.
Charles Whibley's _Book of Scoundrels_, and also two covers for novels
by Miss Elizabeth Robins, _Below the Salt_, for which he drew a silver
ship, and _The Open Question_, for which he devised shields; all
three books published by Mr. Heinemann. The design for the _Book of
Scoundrels_ was a gallows, drawn in thin lines, with rope and noose
attached. Henley, to whom it was shown, asked whether the gallows
should not have been drawn with a support. Whistler's comment was:
"Well, you know, that's the usual sort of gallows, but this one will
do. It will hang all of us. Just like Henley's selfishness to want a
strong one!" an allusion to Henley's size.

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF MRS. A. J. CASSATT

(_See page 257_)]

[Illustration: THE BEACH

WATER-COLOUR

In the possession of Mrs. Knowles

(_See page 274_)]

[Illustration: SHOP WINDOW AT DIEPPE

WATER-COLOUR

(_See page 352_)]

During the winter Whistler met Sir Seymour Haden for the last time
at a dinner given by the Society of Illustrators (of which both were
Vice-Presidents) to Mr. Alfred Parsons, on his election to the Royal
Academy. It was Whistler's first appearance in public since his wife's
death, and as we had persuaded him to go, never anticipating any such
meeting, we were annoyed to think that we had exposed him to the
unpleasantness of it, or Haden either, for we had had no part in their
quarrels. However, as soon as Whistler saw Haden he woke up and began
to enjoy himself. His laugh carried far. Haden heard it, and may have
seen the three monocles on the dinner-table. He looked toward the
laugh, dropped his spoon in his soup-plate, and left. Later Whistler
was called upon to make a speech and could not get out of it. But it
was an anti-climax. The event of the dinner was over.

At Christmas he went with Mr. and Mrs. T. Fisher Unwin and ourselves to
Bournemouth, where our hotel was an old-fashioned inn, selected from
the guide-book because it was the nearest to the sea. We breakfasted
in our rooms, we met at lunch to order dinner, and the rest of the day
Whistler insisted must be spent getting an appetite for it--wandering
on the cliffs, he with his little paint-box. But the sea was on the
wrong side, the wind blew the wrong way, he could do nothing. Some
days we took long drives. One damp, cold, cheerless afternoon we
stopped at a small inn in Poole. The landlady, watching Whistler sip
his hot whisky and water, was convinced he was somebody, but was
unable to place him. "And who do you suppose I am?" Whistler asked at
last. "I can't exactly say, sir, but I should fancy you was from the
'Alls!" Aubrey Beardsley was then at Boscombe, a further stage in his
brave fight with death, and we went to see him. But the sight of the
suffering of others was too cruel a reminder to Whistler, and he shrank
from going to Beardsley.

Dinner was the event of the day, and it would have proved a disaster
had Whistler not seen humour in being expected to eat it, so little
was it what he thought a dinner should be. On Christmas Day he was
melancholy and stared at the turkey and bread sauce, the sodden
potatoes and soaked greens: "To think of my beautiful room in the Rue
du Bac, and the rest of them there, eating their Christmas dinner,
having up my wonderful old Pouilly from my cellar."

But we had something else to talk about. In the _Saturday Review_ of
that week, December 26, there was an article, signed Walter Sickert,
that was of interest to us all.

[Footnote 11: Whistler never lost his fancy for inventing names for his
friends, and O'K. was the one he found for Mr. Kennedy, rarely calling
him by any other either in conversation or correspondence.]



CHAPTER XL: THE LITHOGRAPH CASE. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-SIX AND
EIGHTEEN NINETY-SEVEN.


Mr. Sickert's article was ostensibly inspired by the show of J.'s
lithographs of Granada at the Fine Art Society's, which Whistler had
introduced. Whistler understood it to be an attack upon himself, as
well as upon J., whose lithographs alone it pretended to deal with.
As a rule, Whistler's lithographs were made on lithographic paper and
transferred to the stone. The article argued that to pass off drawings
made on paper as lithographs was as misleading to "the purchaser on the
vital point of commercial value" as to sell photogravures for etchings,
which, when Sir Hubert Herkomer had done so, led to a protest from
J. and Whistler, and also from Mr. Sickert, whose condemnation had
been strong. The article, therefore, was written either ignorantly or
maliciously, for no such distinction in lithography has ever been made.
Transfer-paper is as old as Senefelder, the inventor of lithography,
who looked upon it as the most important part of his invention. The
comment amounted to a charge of dishonesty, and an apology was demanded
by J. The apology was refused by Mr. Frank Harris, editor of the
_Saturday Review_, and consequently Messrs. Lewis and Lewis brought an
action for libel against writer and editor.

The action stood in J.'s name, and Whistler was the principal witness.
In the hope that the matter might be settled by an apology and without
appeal to the law, Mr. Heinemann arranged a meeting between the
editor of the _Saturday Review_ and Whistler, but nothing came of
it. People who knew nothing of lithography got involved in the case,
and our friend Harold Frederic, for one, entangled himself with the
enemy. Others were found to know a great deal whom we never suspected
of knowing anything, and through Whistler we discovered that Mr.
Alfred Gilbert started life as a lithographer, was indignant with
the _Saturday Review_, and only too willing to offer his help to us.
Meetings followed on Sunday evenings in the huge Maida Vale house where
Mr. Gilbert was trying to revive mediæval relations between master and
workman and live the life of a craftsman with pupils and assistants, a
brave experiment which ended in failure.

The case was fixed for April 1897, the most inconvenient time of the
year for the artist who exhibits. Whistler was working on the portrait
of Miss Kinsella, and he had promised three pictures to the _Salon:
Green and Violet_, _Rose and Gold_, and a Nocturne. M. Helleu, who
was in London, catalogued and measured them, reserving space on the
wall. Only a few days were left before sending in and the work would
never be done in time. Whistler was in despair. It was then, too, he
learned that C. E. Holloway, a distinguished artist whom the world
never knew, was ill in his studio near by. Holloway was anything but a
successful man, and Whistler was shocked to find him in bed, lacking
every comfort. He provided doctors, nurses, medicine, and food, and
looked after the dying man's family. He spent afternoons in Holloway's
tiny bedroom. All this took up time and made it difficult to get his
pictures ready for the _Salon_.

He called one morning on his way to the studio to tell us of the death
of Holloway. He was going to the funeral, and suggested a fund to
purchase some of the pictures and give the proceeds to the family. He
was nervous and worried, the _Salon_ clamouring for his work on the one
hand, the trial claiming him on the other. People, he complained, did
not seem to understand the importance of his time. Things were amazing
in the studio, and he was expected to leave them just to go into court.
No, he wouldn't, that was the end of it. The pictures must be finished.
J. said to him: "The case is as much yours as mine, and you must come.
Your reputation is involved. There will be an end to your lithography
if we lose. You must fight."

Whistler liked one the better for the contradiction he was supposed
unable to bear, and he answered: "Well, you know, but really--why, of
course, Joseph, it's all right. I'm coming; of course, we'll fight it
through together. I never meant not to. That's all right."

And to E., who went with him to the "Temple of Pomona" in the Strand,
to order flowers for Holloway, he kept saying: "You know, really,
Joseph mustn't talk like that! Of course, it's all right. Of course, I
never meant not to come. You must tell him it's all right. I never back
out!"

His work stopped. His pictures did not go to Paris. He stood by us.

The case was tried in the King's Bench Division on April 5, before Mr.
Justice Mathew. We were represented by Sir Edward Clarke, Q.C., and
Mr. Eldon Bankes. Whistler arrived early. In the great hall he met the
counsel for the other side, Mr. Bigham, an acquaintance, and, leaning
on his arm, entered the court, "capturing the enemy's counsel on the
way," he said, as he sat down between us and Sir George Lewis. The
counsel are now both judges.

J., in the witness-box, pointed out that he had made lithographs both
on paper and on stone; that there was no difference between them, an
historical fact which he was able to prove; that for the defendants
to deny that a lithograph made on paper was as much a lithograph as
a lithograph made on stone showed that they knew nothing about the
subject, or else were acting out of malice.

Whistler was called next. He said his grievance was the accusation that
he pursued the same evil practice. He was asked by Mr. Bigham if he was
very angry with Mr. Sickert, and he replied he might not be angry with
Mr. Sickert, but he was disgusted that "distinguished people like Mr.
Pennell and myself are attacked by an absolutely unknown authority (Mr.
Sickert), an insignificant and irresponsible person."

"Then," said Mr. Bigham, "Mr. Sickert is an insignificant and
irresponsible person who can do no harm?"

Whistler answered: "Even a fool can do harm, and if any harm is done
to Mr. Pennell it is done to me. This is a question for all artists."
And he added that Mr. Sickert's "pretended compliments and flatteries
were a most impertinent piece of insolence, tainted with a certain
obsequious approach."

Further asked if this was his action, he said: "I am afraid if Mr.
Pennell had not taken these proceedings, I should."

"You are working together then?"

"No, we are on the same side."

"Are you bearing any part of the costs?"

"No, but I am quite willing."

Sir Edward Clarke then interposed and asked if there was any foundation
for that question.

"Only the lightness and delicacy of the counsel's suggestion."

[Illustration: THE THAMES

LITHOTINT. W. 125

(_See page 333_)]

[Illustration: FIRELIGHT. JOSEPH PENNELL. NO. 1

LITHOGRAPH. W. 104

By permission of T. Fisher Unwin, Esq.

(_See page 333_)]

At the end of the cross-examination Whistler adjusted his eye-glass,
put his hat on the rail of the witness-box, slowly pulled off one glove
after the other. He turned to the judge and said:

"And now, my Lord, may I tell you why we are all here?"

"No, Mr. Whistler," said his Lordship; "we are all here because we
cannot help it."

Whistler left the box. What he meant to say no one will ever know. We
asked him later. He shook his head. The moment for saying it had passed.

Sir Sidney Colvin, Keeper of the Print Room of the British Museum;
Mr. Strange, of the Art Library, South Kensington; Mr. Way and Mr.
Goulding, professional lithographic printers; and Mr. Alfred Gilbert
were our witnesses.

Mr. Bigham said that the case was a storm in a teacup blown up by
Whistler, and that the article could do no harm to anybody.

Mr. Sickert protested that he was familiar with all the processes of
lithography; that the plaintiff's lithographs were not lithographs,
but, as a matter of fact, mere transfers. He had submitted the article
to another paper, which refused it before it was accepted by the
_Saturday Review_. He had been under the impression that the plaintiff
would like a newspaper correspondence. He was actuated by a pedantic
purism. Cross-examined by Sir Edward Clarke, he had to admit by
implication that he intended to charge the plaintiff with dishonest
practices, and that he had caught Mr. Pennell, the purist, tripping.
He had to admit that the only lithograph he ever published was made
in the same way, and he had called it, or allowed it to be called, a
lithograph.

Mr. Sickert's witnesses scarcely helped him. Mr. C. H. Shannon's
testimony was more favourable to us than to him. Mr. Rothenstein
testified that all the lithographs he had published were done exactly
as Whistler and J. had done theirs, and as he came out of the box fell
into his hat. Mr. George Moore solemnly proclaimed that he knew nothing
about lithographs, but that he knew Degas. "What's Degas?" roared the
judge, thinking some new process was being sprung on him, and Mr. Moore
vanished. The editor of the _Saturday Review_ acknowledged that he
had published an illustrated supplement full of lithographs done on
transfer-paper and advertised by him as lithographs; that he had not
known what was in Mr. Sickert's article until it appeared.

The judge, in summing up, said that a critic might express a most
disparaging opinion on an artist's work and might refer to him in
the most disagreeable terms, but he must not attribute to the artist
discreditable conduct, unless he could prove that his charge was true.
If the jury thought the criticism merely sharp and exaggerated, they
would find a verdict for the defendant, but if not--that is, if it was
more than this--they should consider to what damages the plaintiff was
entitled. The verdict was for the plaintiff--damages fifty pounds, not
a high estimate of the value of artistic morality on the part of the
British jury, but at least, in so far as it carried costs, higher than
the estimate put upon Whistler's work in the Ruskin trial.

So convinced were the other side of a verdict in their favour that a
rumour reached us of a luncheon ordered beforehand at the Savoy, on
the second day, by the editor of the _Saturday Review_ to celebrate
our defeat. We waited to be sure. Then we carried off Whistler, Mr.
Reginald Poole, who had conducted the case for us, and Mr. Jonathan
Sturges to the Café Royal for our breakfast. Whistler was jubilant, and
nothing pleased him more than the deference of the foreman of the jury,
who waylaid him to shake hands at the close of the trial. And since
then no incautious British artists or critics have dared to tamper with
Senefelder's definition of lithography.



CHAPTER XLI: THE END OF THE EDEN CASE. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-SEVEN
TO EIGHTEEN NINETY-NINE.


After our triumph Whistler went to Paris and Boldini painted his
portrait, shown in the International Exhibition of 1900. It was done
in a very few sittings. Mr. Kennedy, who went with Whistler, says that
Boldini worked rapidly, that Whistler got tired of doing what he had
made other people do all his life--pose--and took naps. During one of
these Boldini made a dry-point on a zinc plate. Whistler did not like
it, nor did he like any better Helleu's done at the same time. Of the
painting Whistler said to us, "They say that looks like me, but I hope
I don't look like that!" It is, however, a presentment of him in his
worst mood, and Mr. Kennedy remembers that he was in his worst mood all
the while. It is the Whistler whom the world knew and feared.

When Whistler came back to London, in May or June, he went to Garlant's
Hotel, where Kennedy was staying. Mr. Kennedy's relations with Whistler
commenced by his selling Whistler's prints and pictures in New York,
and then developed into an intimate friendship, which continued until
almost the end of Whistler's life. Kennedy was one of Whistler's
champions in America, devoted and loyal, though the friendship
ended rather abruptly through a regrettable misunderstanding. After
Whistler's death, Kennedy was mainly responsible for the Grolier Club
exhibition and catalogue.

This summer Whistler went to Hampton, where Mr. Heinemann had taken a
cottage. Whistler never liked the country, but, he said, "I suppose now
we'll have to fish for the little gudgeon together from a chair, with
painted corks, like the other Britons."

He took part in the fun. He went to regattas, picnicked, and was rowed
and punted about. At Hampton he met Mr. William Nicholson, whom Mr.
Heinemann had asked down with the idea of his adding a portrait of
Whistler to the series that began with his woodcut of Queen Victoria in
the _New Review_. Later Mr. Nicholson, in the Fitzroy Street studio,
made a study of Whistler in evening dress, recalling the _Sarasate_,
and it appeared in the _Review_.

It was the summer of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. Whistler could
not come to us from Garlant's without passing through streets hung
with tawdry wreaths and draggled festoons; Trafalgar Square buried in
platforms, seats, and advertisements, Nelson on his column peering
above. The decorations were an unfailing amusement to him, an excuse
for an estimate of "the Island and the Islander," and the talk about
the British, an annoyance, we are afraid, to some of his friends and
more of his enemies. One evening he sketched for us his impression of
the Square, with Nelson "boarded at last." "You see," he said, "England
expects every Englishman to be ridiculous," and the sketch appeared in
the _Daily Chronicle_.

He again went to the Naval Review, and this time saw it from Mr.
George Vanderbilt's yacht. No etchings were made, though we believe he
did a water-colour or pastel. Instead, he wrote some of his saddest
letters, yet he said with a gleam of glee: "It was wonderful, just
like Spain, just like Velasquez at some great function, for there was
Philip," whom Mr. Vanderbilt resembled, as the portrait proved till
he changed and ruined it. "There was the Queen, Mrs. Vanderbilt; there
was I, the Court Painter, and, why, even the dwarfs," as he described
appropriately two well-known Americans on board.

In July we proposed to cycle across France to Switzerland, and the
night before we started Whistler, M. Boldini, and Mr. Kennedy dined
with us to say good-bye. Boldini was leaving London the next day, and
by the end of the evening Whistler made up his mind to come as far
as Dieppe, and as he would never, if he could help it, go alone, he
decided that Mr. Kennedy must come too. Next morning we all arrived at
the station save Whistler. Even his baggage came, but not till we were
reduced almost to nervous collapse, not till the train was starting,
did he saunter unmoved--his straw hat over his eyes--down the platform,
followed humbly by the pompous station-master and amazed porters,
looking for our carriage. No sooner had we started than he was in the
best of spirits and enjoyed every minute of the journey, most when on
the boat he found a camp of enemies also on the way to Dieppe, to his
delight and their discomfort. At Dieppe we had to get our bicycles
through the customs, the others took a cab, and when we reached the
hotel we were received regally and given a whole suite, Boldini having
hinted to the _patron_ we were royalty travelling incognito, they in
attendance. Almost at once Whistler got out his little colour-box and
started for a shop front in a narrow street he knew. But first he
had to find another kind of shop where he could buy a rosette of the
Legion of Honour, for his had been lost or forgotten, and he would
have thought it wanting in respect to appear without it in France. The
shopkeeper, to whom he explained, said, "All right, _monsieur_, here is
the rosette, but I have heard that story before." Whistler was furious,
but in the end had to laugh. His dread of illness was again shown, for
Beardsley, dying, was in the town, and without knowing it we passed
his window and Beardsley saw us. When afterwards we called, Whistler
refused to come, and it was well he did. Beardsley, however, was not
the only person in Dieppe Whistler would not meet.

We had only our cycling costumes, we were staying at the Hôtel Royal.
When he came down to dinner, very late of course, he was correct in
evening dress, the rosette in place, and we thought there was a
suggestion of hesitation, but it was only a suggestion. He gave his arm
to E., who was in short cycling skirt, J. in knickerbockers, and as we
went into the dining-room he turned to her, and, to a question that had
never been asked, answered clearly, "_Mais oui, Princesse_," and after
that he had all the attention he wanted. Every tourist stared, and we
were escorted to our seats by the _patron_, and for the rest of the
evening, when he was not talking to the _Princesse_, he was giving good
advice to the head waiter. The evening and the night were diversified
periodically by Boldini's practical jokes, which did not keep Whistler
from being down early in the morning to see us off. "Well, you know,
can't I hold something?" he offered, as E. mounted her bicycle, and as
he watched us wheel along the sea-front, he told Mr. Kennedy, "After
all, O'K., ... there's something in it!" We asked Mr. Kennedy to pay
our bill, and M. Boldini had some trouble with his. The result was that
when Whistler and Kennedy counted up their joint funds, they found they
had just about enough money to get back to London, and they left.

In the autumn Whistler was in Paris, the Eden case in the Cour de
Cassation being fixed for November 17. It was heard before Président
Périvier, Maître Beurdeley for the second time defending Whistler. Mr.
Heinemann came from London, and was with him in court. Judgment was
given on December 2. The affair had been talked about, and the court
was crowded. The judgment went as entirely in Whistler's favour as, in
the Lower Court, it had gone against him. He was to keep the picture,
on condition that he made it unrecognisable as a portrait of Lady
Eden, which had been done; Sir William Eden was to have the hundred
guineas back, which already had been returned and 5 per cent. interest;
Whistler was to pay one thousand francs damages with interest and the
cost of the first trial, and "the Baronet" to pay the costs of appeal.
Mr. MacMonnies, who also was with Whistler in court, remembers that
"it was decided by the judges that the picture should be produced when
needed. Mr. Whistler whispered in my ear, 'MacMonnies, take the picture
and get out with it.' As we sat under the judges' noses, and the
court-room was packed with admirers and enemies and court officials,
I made a distinct spot as I walked down the aisle with _the_ picture
under my arm. And Whistler showed his admirable generalship in the
case, as not one of the _gendarmes_ could stop me. So all anybody
could do was to watch it disappear out of the door."

Whistler said to us that the _Procureur de la République_ was splendid;
that the whole affair was a public recognition of his position; that
the trial made history, established a precedent, proving the right of
the artist to his own work; that a new clause had been added to the
_Code Napoléon_; that he had "wiped up the floor" with "the Baronet"
before all Paris, his intention from the first. He wished it to be
known that in the law of France he would go down with Napoleon:

"Well, you know, take my word for it, Joseph, the first duty of a good
general when he has won his battle is to say so, otherwise the people,
always dull--the Briton especially--fail to understand, and it is an
unsettled point in history for ever. Victory is not complete until the
wounded are looked after and the dead counted."

The trial over, he wanted immediately to make a beautiful little book
of it, and he began to arrange the report with his "Reflections"
for publication. During many months proofs of _The Baronet and the
Butterfly_ filled his pockets. As he had read pages of _The Ten
O'Clock_ to Mr. Alan S. Cole, so he read pages of _The Baronet and the
Butterfly_ to us, and sometimes to the Council of the International
after the meetings, a mistake, for there were members who had not the
intelligence to understand it or him. His care was no less than with
_The Gentle Art_. Every note, every Butterfly, was thought out and
placed properly. "Beautiful, you know. Isn't it beautiful?" he would
say, when a page or a paragraph pleased him, and nothing pleased him
more than the Butterfly following the "Reflection" on page 43. There
he quotes George Moore: "I undertook a journey to Paris in the depth
of winter, had two shocking passages across the Channel _and spent
twenty-five pounds_. All this worry is the commission I received for my
trouble in the matter."

Whistler's "Reflection" was: "Why, damme, sir! he must have had a
Valentine himself--the sea-saddened expert." This was followed by the
Butterfly, "splendid--actually rolling back with laughter, you know!"

A new feature was the toad printed over the Dedication: "To those
_confrères_ across the Channel who, refraining from intrusive
demonstration, with a pluck and delicacy all their own 'sat tight'
during the struggle, these decrees of the judges are affectionately
dedicated."

Below, a Butterfly bows and sends its sting to England. The tiny toad
is the only realistic drawing in his books, and to make it realistic he
needed a model. He thought of applying at the Zoological Gardens, was
promised one by Mr. Wimbush, a painter in the same house, and finally
his stepson, Mr. E. Godwin, found one. He put the toad in a paper box,
forgot all about it, and was shocked when he heard it was dead.

"You know, they say I starved it. Well, it must have caught a fly or
two, and I thought toads lived in stone or amber--or something--for
hundreds of years--don't you know the stories? Perhaps it was because I
hadn't the amber!"

_The Baronet and the Butterfly_ was published in Paris by Henry May,
May 13, 1899. Whistler objected to the date, but on the 13th it
appeared, and the result justified his superstition. It did not attract
much attention. When we saw him in Paris that month he seemed to think
the fault was with the critics who were keeping up the played-out
business of "misunderstanding and misrepresentation." But the interest
in the Eden trial had never been as great as he fancied, and the
report is dull reading, because there were no witnesses and so no
cross-examination which would in England have given him the opportunity
of "scalping" his victim. The Ruskin trial in _The Gentle Art_ is full
of Whistler's answers in court; _The Baronet and the Butterfly_ is made
up of the speeches of advocates and judges. In the marginal notes, the
Dedication, the Argument, he is brilliant and witty, and the Butterfly
as gay as ever. There is no Whistler in the speeches, that is the
trouble.

The book was one of many schemes that occupied him during these
years. The International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers
was organised, and the _Atelier Carmen_ in Paris was planned, both
so important that their history is reserved for other chapters. A
venture from which he hoped great things was his endeavour to dispense
with the middleman in art. Hitherto he had been glad to trust his
affairs to dealers. "I will lay the golden eggs, you will supply the
incubator," he told one, whose version of the arrangement was that when
the incubator was ready Whistler would not give up the golden eggs.
He could not reconcile himself to the large sums gained by buying
and selling his work since 1892. Over the sale of old work he had no
control; the sale of new he determined to keep in his hands. He would
be his own agent, set up his own shop, form a trust in Whistlers. We
think it was in 1896 he first spoke to us about it, delighted, sure
he was to succeed financially at last. In 1897 rumours were spread of
a "Whistler Syndicate." In 1898 advertisements of the "Company of the
Butterfly" appeared in the _Athenæum_--the Company composed, as far
as we knew, of James McNeill Whistler. Two rooms were taken on the
first floor at No. 2 Hinde Street, Manchester Square, close to the
Wallace Gallery. They were charming. A few prints were hung. A picture
or two stood on easels. To go to Whistler in the studio for his work
was one thing; it was quite another to go to a shop run by no one knew
who, half the time shut, and deserted when open. We doubt if anything
was ever sold there, we never saw a visitor in the place. Soon the
rooms were turned over to Mr. Heinemann for a show of Mr. Nicholson's
colour-prints, and after that no more was heard of the "Company of the
Butterfly."

There was another reason for starting it. So many people came to the
studio for so many reasons that he had to keep them out, and his idea
was that those who wanted to buy pictures should go to the "Company
of the Butterfly," and buy them there without interrupting him. But
no shop could dispose of the constant visits from the curious, from
photographers asking for his portrait, journalists begging for an
interview, literary people anxious to make articles or books about him.
They would write to arrange a certain hour and appear without waiting
for a reply. One, who had written to say he was coming with a letter of
introduction, on his arrival found the door fastened and heard Whistler
whistling inside, and that was all the indignant visitor heard or saw
of him. There is a story of an American collector who, calling one day
when not wanted, and after wasting much time, asked:

"How much for the whole lot, Mr. Whistler?"

"Five millions."

"What?"

"My posthumous prices!"

[Illustration: STUDY IN BROWN

OIL

In the possession of the Baroness de Meyer

(_See page 359_)]

[Illustration: STUDY OF THE NUDE

PEN DRAWING

In the possession of William Heinemann, Esq.

(_See page 360_)]

And there are stories of Whistler's ways of meeting the hordes who
tried to force themselves into the studio. Mr. Eddy tells one:

"An acquaintance had brought, without invitation, a friend,
'a distinguished and clever woman,' to the studio in the Rue
Notre-Dame-des-Champs. They reached the door, both out of breath
from their long climb. 'Ah, my dear Whistler,' drawled C----, 'I
have taken the liberty of bringing Lady D---- to see you. I knew you
would be delighted.' 'Delighted, I'm sure! Quite beyond expression,
but'--mysteriously, and holding the door so as to bar their
entrance--'my dear Lady D----, I would never forgive our friend for
bringing you up six flights of stairs on so hot a day to visit a studio
at one of these--eh--pagan moments when'--and he glanced furtively
behind him, and still further closed the door--'it is absolutely
impossible for a lady to be received. Upon my soul, I should never
forgive him.' And Whistler bowed them down from the top of the six
flights and returned to the portrait of a very sedate old gentleman
who had taken advantage of the interruption to break for a moment the
rigour of his pose."

The "Company of the Butterfly" never relieved him of the visitors who
were more eager to see him than his work. But this he did not discover
until he had devoted to the venture far more time than he had to spare
during the crowded years of its existence.



CHAPTER XLII: BETWEEN LONDON AND PARIS. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-SEVEN
TO NINETEEN HUNDRED.


After his marriage Whistler was unfortunate in his choice of apartments
and studios. The Studio in the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, on the sixth
floor, was the worst for a man with a weak heart to climb to; the
apartment in the Rue du Bac, low and damp, was as bad for a man who
caught cold easily. He was constantly ill during the winter of 1897-98,
which he passed mostly in Paris. Influenza kept him in bed in November,
from January to March he was dull and listless as never before, save in
Venice after the _scirocco_; he said, "I am so tired--I who am never
tired!"

Whistler's heart, always weak, began to trouble him. He had been ill
before, but, nervous as he was about his health, he never realised
his condition. We have known him, when too ill to work, get up out of
bed in order to accomplish something important. A few years before,
confined with quinsy to his brother's house, forced to write what he
wished to say on a slate, when someone he did not want to see was
announced, he forgot that he could not talk and yelled, "Send him
away!" We have known, too, an invitation to dinner from a certain rich
American to rout him out of bed and to cure him temporarily. It was
this endeavour never to be ill, never to give in, that was one of the
causes of his final breakdown. Illness suggested death, and no man ever
shrank more from the thought or mention of death than Whistler. There
was in life so much for him to do, so little time in which to do it. He
would tell his brother it was useless for doctors to know so much if
they had not discovered the elixir of life. "Why not try to find it?"
he asked the Doctor. "Isn't it in the heart of the unknown? It must be
there."

In the studio he worked harder than ever. Illness made him foresee that
his time was short, and he was goaded by the thought of the things to
finish. When he was in London we were distressed by his fatigue at the
end of the day, but he said he was like the old cart-horse that could
keep going as long as it was in traces, but must drop the minute it
was free. While he was in Paris, his letters were full of the "amazing
things" going on in the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs. He said: "Really,
you know, I could almost laugh at the extraordinary progress I am
making, and the lovely things I am inventing--work beyond anything I
have ever done before."

He was only beginning to know and to understand, he told us. All that
had gone before was experimental.

There were new portraits. In 1897 he had begun one of Mr. George
Vanderbilt--"The Modern Philip"--a full-length in riding habit, whip
in hand, standing against a dark background. The canvas was sent from
Paris to London, just as Whistler and Vanderbilt happened to be in
one place or the other. Not one of his portraits of men interested
Whistler so much; certainly not one was finer when we first saw it in
London, but it was a wreck in the Paris Memorial Exhibition of 1905.
Like others of this period, it had been worked over. He painted Mrs.
Vanderbilt, _Ivory and Gold_, shown in the _Salon_ of 1902, one of the
first of the several ovals he was now doing. Carmen, his model, sat.
Portraits started a year or so later were of his brother-in-law, Mr.
Birnie Philip, and of Mr. Elwell, an American painter whom he had known
for some time. In May 1898, in the Rue Notre-Dame-des-Champs, he showed
us the full-length of himself in long overcoat, called _Gold and Brown_
in the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900 and, as we have said, never
seen afterward. We own a pen-drawing he made of it. It was far from
successful, and before he finished it Miss Marian Draughn, an American,
began to pose for him--his "Coon Girl" he called her. She was sent to
him by Gibson and Phil May.

He painted many children. He loved children. Ernest G. Brown remembered
Whistler's thoughtfulness and consideration when his daughter sat for
_Pretty Nelly Brown_, one of the most beautiful of the series. We have
the same story from Mr. Croal Thomson, of whose daughter, _Little
Evelyn_, Whistler made a lithograph. When he went to her father's
house at Highgate, Evelyn would run to meet him with outstretched
hands, her face lifted to be kissed, and while he worked the other
children would come and look on. Mr. Alan S. Cole has told us that once
Whistler found his three little daughters decorating the drawing-room
and hanging up a big welcome in flowers for their mother, who was to
return. He forgot what he had come for and helped, as eager and excited
as they, and stayed until Mrs. Cole arrived. He was walking from the
Paris studio one day with Mrs. Clifford Addams and saw some children
playing; he made her stop, "I must look at the babbies," he said, "you
know, I love the babbies!" Later, during his last illness, he liked
to have Mrs. Addams' own little girl, Diane, in the studio. And there
are portraits of Brandon Thomas' baby and _Master Stephen Manuel_ that
show his pleasure in painting his small sitters. The children of the
street adored him; the children of Chelsea and Fitzroy Street, who
were used to artists, knew him well. There was one he was for ever
telling us about, of five or six, who frightened while she fascinated
him. "I likes whusky," she confided one day when she was posing, "and
I likes Scoatch best!" She described her Christmas at home: "Father
'e was drunk, mother was drunk, sister was drunk, I was drunk, and we
made the cat drunk, too!" A still younger child gave him sittings, a
baby of not more than three, the model for many of the pastels. She
and her mother were resting one afternoon, Whistler watching her every
movement. "Really," he said, "you are a beautiful little thing!" She
looked up at him, "Yes, I is, Whistler," she lisped. And there is the
old story: "Where did you come from, Mr. Whistler?" "I came from on
high, my dear." "H'm, never should have thought it," said the child;
"shows how we can deceive ourselves." But his popularity with children
did not help him one Sunday afternoon, the only time it is possible to
sketch with comfort in the City, when he went with J. to make a study
of Clerkenwell Church tower, which was about to be restored. They drove
to the church, but the light was bad and the colour not right, so they
wandered off to Cloth Fair--until a little while ago the most perfect,
really the only, bit of old London. Though Whistler had worked there
many times, this afternoon the children did not approve of him. After
a short encounter in which they, as always, got the better, Whistler
and J. retired to another cab, followed by any refuse that came handy.
But the children he painted, _The Little Rose of Lyme Regis_, _The
Little Lady Sophie of Soho_, _Lillie in our Alley_, the small Italian
waifs and strays, were his friends, and no painter ever gave the grace
and feeling of childhood, or of girlhood as in _Miss Woakes_, more
sympathetically.

He was as absorbed in a series of nudes. Few of his paintings towards
the end satisfied him so entirely as the small _Phryne the Superb,
Builder of Temples_, which he sent to the International in 1901 and to
the _Salon_ in 1902. The first time he showed it to us he asked:

"Would she be more superb--more truly the builder of Temples--had I
painted her what is called life-size by the foolish critics who bring
out their foot-rule? Is it a question of feet and inches when you look
at her?"

[Illustration: BLUE AND CORAL THE LITTLE BLUE BONNET

OIL

Formerly in the possession of Wm. Heinemann, Esq.

(_See page 361_)]

[Illustration: ROSE AND GOLD LITTLE LADY SOPHIE OF SOHO

OIL

In the Charles L. Freer Collection, National Gallery of American Art

(_See page 362_)]

He intended to paint an Eve, an Odalisque, a Bathsheba, and a Danaë,
the designs to be enlarged on canvas by his apprentices, Mr. and Mrs.
Clifford Addams, but this was never done. Suggestions were in the
pastels of figures, for which he found the perfect model in London.
When not in the studio, he kept sketching her from memory, and he was
in despair when she married and went to some remote colony, but before
she went he gave her some beautiful silver. These pastels are many
and perfect. They are drawings on brown paper--studies or impressions
of the model in infinite poses. In some she stands with her filmy
draperies floating about her or falling in long, straight folds to
her feet; in others she lies upon a couch, indolent and lovely; she
dances across the paper, she bends over a great bowl, she sits with
her slim legs crossed and a cup of tea in her hand, she holds a fan
or a flower; but whatever she may be doing or however she may rest,
she is but another expression of the beauty that haunted Whistler, the
beauty that was the inspiration of the _Harmonies in White_ and the
_Six Projects_. Many poses are suggested in lithographs, etchings, and
water-colours; none show greater tenderness than when she returned
with her child. He put his own tenderness into the encircling hands of
the mother holding the baby on her knee, he found the most rhythmic
lines when, standing, she balanced herself to clasp the child the more
closely to her. Nothing could be slighter than the means by which the
effect is produced, the figures drawn in black upon the brown paper,
the colour--blue, or rose, or violet--suggested in the gauzy draperies
or the cap or handkerchief knotted about the curls. But they have the
exquisiteness of Tanagra figures and are as complete.

All this work was done with feverish concern about mediums and
materials and methods He usually sat now as he worked, and he wore
spectacles, sometimes two pairs, one over the other. He was never so
thoughtful in the preparation of his colours and his canvas. At last
the knowledge was coming to him, he said again and again. And he was
never more successful in obtaining the unity and harmony he had always
sought, in hiding the labour by which it was obtained, and in giving
to his painting the beauty of surface he prized so highly. Because in
painting he tried to carry on the same subject, the same tradition,
superficial critics accused him of repeating himself, or mistook his
later for earlier works, like the critic of the _Times_ who, in writing
of his pictures at the International Society's Exhibition of 1898,
referred to "old works ... among which _The Little Blue Bonnet_ is the
least known," a remark Whistler printed in the _édition de luxe_ of
the catalogue, with the explanation that the painting had come "fresh
from the easel to its first exhibition," and that therefore "the 'plain
man' is, once more, profoundly right, and we see again the advantage of
memory over mere artistic instinct in the critic." The small portraits
and marines of the nineties are as fine as anything he ever did. The
fact that for all these pictures he used frames of the same size and
the same design helped--unintentionally on his part--to confuse critics
accustomed to the flamboyant vulgarity, utter inappropriateness, and
complete indifference to scale in the frames of most painters. But
then there are not half a dozen painters in a generation who have the
faintest idea of decoration. Whistler, Puvis de Chavannes, and John
La Farge are almost the only decorators whose names may be mentioned
among moderns. Though some of Whistler's portraits are more elaborate,
not one is more powerful or more masterly as a study of character, and
therefore more individual, than _The Master Smith of Lyme Regis_. When
it is contrasted with _The Little Rose_, the embodiment of simple,
sweet, healthy childhood, and _The Little Lady Sophie of Soho_ and
_Lillie in our Alley_, the sickly atmosphere of the slums reflected in
their strange beauty, and these again with the exuberant colour and
life of _Carmen_, there can be no question of the variety in Whistler's
later work, though a certain manner, that might have grown into
mannerism, became more marked. There was a similarity in the general
design. Most were heads and half-lengths, and, except in the finest,
nose, eyes, and mouth were alike in character, and hands were badly
drawn and clumsily put in. The colour was beautiful and he exulted in
it, but at the very last he must have known as well as anybody that his
power of work was leaving him.

Whistler spent the summer of 1898 chiefly in London, going first to Mr.
Heinemann's at Whitehall Court, then to Garlant's Hotel. The delightful
evenings of the year before began again for us, and there was a fresh
interest for him in the war between the United States and Spain. "It
was a wonderful and beautiful war," he thought, "the Spaniards were
gentlemen," and his pockets were filled with newspaper clippings to
prove it. If we pointed out a blunder on the part of our soldiers, if
we gave chance a share in our victories, he was furious:

"Why say if any but Spaniards had been at the top of San Juan, we never
would have got there? Why question the _if_? The facts are all that
count. No fight could be more beautifully managed. I am telling you!
I, a West Point man, know. What if Cervera did get whipped? What if he
was pulled up from the sea looking like a wad of cotton that had been
soaked in an ink-bottle? What of it? Didn't the whole United States
Navy, headed by the admirals, receive him as the Commander of the
Spanish Fleet should be received?"

He was going out more and seeing more people. But his interest in
society was less, and evidently he preferred the quiet of the evenings
with us. Chance encounters in our flat were often an entertainment.
One we recall most vividly was with Frederick Sandys, whom he had not
met for thirty years. Sandys was with us in the late afternoon when
Whistler knocked his exaggerated postman's knock that could not be
mistaken, followed by the resounding peal of the bell. They gave each
other a chilly recognition and sat down. Sandys was agitated, but there
was no escape. Whistler looked like Boldini's portrait, but soon they
began to talk, and they talked till the early hours of the morning as
if they were back at Rossetti's, Sandys in the white waistcoat with
gold buttons, but bent with age, Whistler straight and erect, but
wrinkled and grey.

He returned to Paris late in the autumn, settling there for the winter.
Except for his attacks of illness, there was but one interruption to
his work. Mr. Heinemann was married at Porto d'Anzio in February 1899,
and Whistler went to Italy as best man. This was his only visit to
Rome. He was disappointed. To us he described the city as "a bit of
an old ruin alongside of a railway station where I saw Mrs. Potter
Palmer." And he added:

"Rome was awful--a hard sky all the time, a glaring sun and a strong
wind. After I left the railway station, there were big buildings more
like Whiteley's than anything I expected in the Eternal City. St.
Peter's was fine, with its great yellow walls, the interior too big,
perhaps, but you had only got to go inside to know where Wren got his
ideas--how he, well, you know, robbed Peter's to build Paul's! And I
liked the Vatican, the Swiss Guards, great big fellows, lolling about,
as in Dumas; they made you think of D'Artagnan, Aramis, and the others.
And Michael Angelo? A tremendous fellow, yes; the frescoes in the
Sistine Chapel, interesting as pictures, but with all the legs and arms
of the figures sprawling everywhere, I could not see the decoration.
There can be no decoration without repose; a tremendous fellow, but not
so much in the David and other things I was shown in Rome and Florence
as in that one unfinished picture at the National Gallery. There is
often elegance in the _loggie_ of Raphael, but the big frescoes of the
_stanze_ did not interest me."

Velasquez's portrait of _Innocent X._ in the Doria Palace he,
apparently, did not see.

During the journey to Porto d'Anzio, Princess ----, one of the wedding
guests, who heard vaguely that Whistler was an artist, inquired of him:

"_Monsieur fait de la peinture, n'est-ce pas?_"

"_Oui, Princesse._"

"_On me l'avait dit. Moi aussi, j'en fais, Monsieur._"

"_Charmant, Princesse, nous sommes des collègues._"

On the way back from Rome Whistler stopped at Florence, and of his stay
there Mr. J. Kerr-Lawson wrote us the account:

"The McNeill has been here and just gone--we had him lightly on our
hands all day yesterday.

"We didn't 'do' Florence, for there was a fierce glaring sun and a
horrible _Tramontana_ raging, so we spent the best of the morning
trying to write a letter in the rococo manner to the Syndic of Murano
quite unsuccessfully. [This was after the awards in the Venice
International Exhibition.]

"After luncheon I took him down to the Uffizi. We seemed to be the only
people rash enough to brave the awful wind, for we saw no one in the
Gallery but a frozen _Guardia_. He--poor fellow--was brushed aside by
a magnificent and truly awe-inspiring gesture as we approached that
battered and begrimed portrait in which Velasquez still looks out upon
the world which he has mastered with an expression of superbly arrogant
scorn in the Portrait Gallery.

"It was a dramatic moment--the flat-brimmed _chapeau de haut forme_
came off with a grand sweep and was deposited on a stool, and then
the Master, standing back about six feet from the picture and drawing
himself up to much more than his own full natural height, with his left
hand upon his breast and the right thrust out magisterially, exclaimed,
'_Quelle allure!_' Then you should have seen him. After the solemn
act of homage, when he had resumed his hat, we relaxed considerably
over the lesser immortals of this crazy and incongruous Valhalla--what
an ill-assorted company! How did they all get together? Liotard, the
Swiss, jostles Michael Angelo, Giuseppe MacPherson rubs shoulders
with Titian, Herkomer hangs beside Ingres, and Poynter is a pendant
to Sir Joshua. There are the greatest and the least, the noblest and
the meanest brought together by the capricious folly of succeeding
directors and harmonised by that touch of vanity that makes the whole
world kin.

"One wonders whom they will ask next. Certainly not Whistler. They knew
quite well he was here, but not the slightest notice was taken of him.
_En revanche_, every now and then some vulgar mediocrity passes this
way, and then the foolish Florentines are lavish with their laurels."

Whistler had not been long dead when J. received an inspired letter
from Florence asking him if he could obtain Whistler's portrait for the
Uffizi. His answer was that had they appreciated Whistler they might
have asked him while he was alive, but as they had not had the sense or
the courage to do so, they had better apply to his executrix. As yet
there is no portrait of Whistler in the Uffizi.

After absences from his studio Whistler discovered again that pictures
and prints were disappearing. It worried him, and he tried to trace
and recover them. We have little doubt that, at times, Whistler lost
prints through his carelessness. We know that once his method of drying
his etchings between sheets of blotting paper thrown on the floor was
disastrous. One morning an artist came to see us bringing a number
of beautiful proofs of the second Venice Set, in sheets of blotting
paper as he had bought them from an old rag and paper man in Red Lion
Passage, who thought they could be no good because the margins were
cut down and so sold them for a shilling apiece. The artist admitted
that he did not care for them, and we offered him half-a-crown. "Oh,"
he said, "as you are willing to give that, now I shall find out what
they are really worth." He got sixty pounds for them, but several of
the prints separately have since sold for much more. Accidents like
this would account for some of the things Whistler thought were stolen.
A few works that had disappeared were recovered during his lifetime.
But shortly after his death there was a sale at the Hôtel Drouot in
which missing paintings, drawings, plates, prints, and even letters
were dispersed. Only those who were near him can realise how much
this troubled and annoyed him during his last years. At the same time
he began to suffer from another of the evils of success. Pictures,
somewhat resembling his and attributed to him appeared at auctions, and
others were sent to him for identification or signature by persons who
had purchased them. If he knew beforehand that one of these fakes was
coming up in the auction-room, he would send and try to stop the sale,
or, if submitted to him, he would not give it back. Neither expedient
met with marked success. At present there is a factory of Whistlers
in full operation, while oils and water-colours and drawings ascribed
to him without the slightest reason have been openly sold at auction,
despite the protests made against such swindles.

Whistler could not stay long from London, and the early summer of 1899
saw him back at Garlant's and visiting Mr. Heinemann at Weybridge.
He was in town for the sequel to the Eden affair. He heard that, on
July 15, there was to be a sale of Sir William Eden's pictures at
Christie's. He went to it and came to us afterwards.

"Really, it has been beautiful. I know you will enjoy it. It occurred
to me in the morning--the Baronet's sale to-day--h'm--the Butterfly
should see how things are going! And I went home, and I changed my
morning dress, my dandy straw hat, and then, very correct and elegant,
I sauntered down King Street into Christie's. At the top of the
stairway someone spoke to me. 'Well, you know, my dear friend,' I said,
'I do not know who you are, but you shall have the honour of taking
me in.' And on his arm I walked into the big room. The auctioneer
was crying, 'Going! Going! Thirty shillings! Going!' 'Ha ha!' I
laughed--not loudly, not boisterously, it was very delicately, very
neatly done. But the room was electrified. Some of the henchmen were
there; they grow rigid, afraid to move afraid to glance my way out of
the corners of their eyes. 'Twenty shillings! Going!' the auctioneer
would cry. 'Ha ha!' I would laugh, and things went for nothing and
the henchman trembled. Louis Fagan came across the room to speak to
me--Fagan, representing the British Museum, as it were, was quite the
most distinguished man there. And now, having seen how things were,
I took Fagan's arm. 'You,' I said, 'may have the honour of taking me
out.'"

He dined with us the next evening and found Mr. Harry Wilson, whose
brother-in-law, Mr. Sydney Morse, was the friend upon whose arm
Whistler had entered the auction-room. Mr. Wilson was full of the
story, and confirmed the "electric shock" when Whistler appeared.

He ran over to Holland once during the summer. Part of the time he was
at Pourville, near Dieppe, where he had taken a house for Miss Birnie
Philip and her mother. The sea was on the right side at Dieppe, of
which he never tired; at Madame Lefèvre's restaurant he could get
as good a breakfast as in Paris; and many small marines, oils, and
water-colours were done before bad weather drove him away.

Though it is not always easy to identify the place or the time to which
his small marines belong, for they cover a number of years, probably
more were made at Dieppe than anywhere else. When he did not care to
work from the shore there were boatmen who would take him out beyond
the breakers, where he could get the effect he wished at the height
above the water that suited him. He used to be seen calmly painting
away in a dancing row-boat, the boatman holding it as steadily as he
could. There is as much of the bigness of the ocean in these little
paintings, which show usually only the grey or blue or green, but ever
recurring, swell of the wave, or a quiet sea with two or three sails on
the horizon, as in any big marines that ever were painted. He explained
his method to his apprentice, Mrs. Addams. When the wave broke and the
surf made a beautiful line of white, he painted this at once, then all
that completed the beauty of the breaking wave, then the boat passing,
and then, having got the movement and the beauty that goes almost as
soon as it comes, he put in the shore or the horizon.

In Paris, during the winter of 1899-1900, he took two small rooms at
the Hôtel Chatham, where the last three years he had often stayed,
afraid to risk the dampness of the Rue du Bac. But they were inner
rooms with no light and scarcely any ventilation, though most swell and
more expensive, unless, perhaps, the lady who used to come to massage
him was included. He had fewer friends in Paris than in London, and
he was often lonely. He would go to see Drouet and say, "_Tu sais, je
suis ennuyé._" And Drouet, to amuse him, would get up little dinners,
at which all who were left of the old group of students met again. One
was given in honour of Becquet, whom Whistler had etched almost half a
century before. A wreath of laurels was prepared. During dinner Drouet
said he had met many great men, but, _pour la morale_, none greater
than Becquet, who was moved to tears, and the laurel wreath was offered
to him by Whistler, and Becquet fairly broke down; he "would hang it on
the walls of his studio, always to have it before him," he said.

Once Drouet took Whistler to the fair at Neuilly, made him ride in a
merry-go-round. Whistler lost his hat, dropped his eye-glass. "What
would London journalists say if they could see me now?" he asked. They
generally dined at Beaujé's, in the Passage des Panoramas, to which
Drouet and other artists, literary men, and barristers went. Whistler
renewed his intimacy with Oulevey, whom he had barely seen since
the early Paris days. Madame Oulevey's memories are, above all, of
Whistler's dining with them in the Passage des Favorites at the other
end of the Rue Vaugirard, when he wore his pumps and, a storm coming up
and not a cab to be found in their quarter, and they had to keep him
for hours. His pumps left an impression on Drouet, too, who was sure
it was because Whistler wore them by day and could not walk in them
that he was so often seen driving through the streets in a cab. And
he seemed so tired then, Drouet said, half the time lying back, fast
asleep. Fantin, the most intimate of his early associates, he met but
once and then by chance.

In February news came of the death of his brother, Doctor Whistler.
Alexander Harrison writes us:

"I chanced to call upon him half an hour after he had received the news
and, with a quivering voice and tears in his eyes, he told me that he
considered me a friend and told me his sad loss and asked me to dine
with him."

The two brothers had been devoted since boyhood, and Whistler felt
the Doctor's death acutely. It made him the more ready to rejoin his
friends in London, and two months later found him staying with Mr.
Heinemann, who had moved from Whitehall Court to Norfolk Street.

There E. dined to meet him the evening after his arrival. Mr. Arthur
Symons gives, in his _Studies in Seven Arts_, his impression of the
dinner, and of Whistler:

"I never saw anyone so feverishly alive as this little old man, with
his bright withered cheeks, over which a skin was drawn tightly, his
darting eyes, under their prickly bushes of eyebrow, his fantastically
creased black and white curls of hair, his bitter and subtle mouth,
and, above all, his exquisite hands, never at rest."

[Illustration: MODEL, WITH FLOWERS

PASTEL

In the possession of J. P. Heseltine, Esq.

(_See page 360_)]

[Illustration: GIRL, WITH A RED FEATHER

OIL

In the possession of the Executors of J. Staats Forbes

(_See page 360_)]

To us the idea of his age was never present. He seemed the youngest
wherever he was. But to those who saw him for the first time it was
evident that he was growing old. And he had been before the public for
so long that people got an exaggerated idea of his age. Mr. Symons
continues:

"Some person officially connected with art was there, an urbane
sentimentalist; and after every official platitude there was a sharp
crackle from Whistler's corner, and it was as if a rattlesnake had
leapt suddenly out."

When the "urbane sentimentalist" remarked that "there never was such
a thing as an art-loving people, an artistic period," Whistler said:
"Dear me! It's very flattering to find that I have made you see at
last. But really, you know, I shall have to copyright my little things
after this!"

When someone objected to the good manners of the French, because they
were all on the surface, Whistler suggested, "Well, you know, a very
good place to have them."



CHAPTER XLIII: THE INTERNATIONAL. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-SEVEN TO
NINETEEN HUNDRED AND THREE.


That artists should hold Exhibitions of International Art was
Whistler's idea. He had always hoped for a gallery where he could show
his work in his own way with the work of men in sympathy with him.
Often, and years before, he talked to us of this. It mattered little
to him where the gallery should be, in New York or London, Paris or
Berlin: the exhibition should not be local or national, but an Art
Congress for the artists of the world. This was his aim. The men whom
he wished to have associated with him lived mostly in London, where now
the greater part of his time was spent, and London seemed the place
for the first exhibition. He and Mr. E. A. Walton tried to lease the
Grosvenor Gallery, and when they failed they turned to the Grafton.
But again there were difficulties, and nothing definite was done until
1897, when a young journalist, who was painting, Mr. Francis Howard,
conceived the idea of promoting a company to hold an exhibition at
Prince's Skating Club, Knightsbridge. As the artists were to incur
no financial responsibilities and to have complete artistic control,
Whistler consented to co-operate. The first meeting, the minutes
record, was on December 23, 1897, and John Lavery, E. A. Walton, G.
Sauter, and Francis Howard were present. Whistler, who had been
consulted, at first agreed that members of the Royal Academy and other
artistic bodies should be admitted, and at the second meeting, February
7, 1898, Mr. Alfred Gilbert, R.A., took the chair. A circular, unsigned
and undated, was then issued calling attention to a proposed exhibition
of International Art, and on it appeared the names of James McNeill
Whistler, Alfred Gilbert, Frederick Sandys, John Lavery, James Guthrie,
Arthur Melville, Charles W. Furse, Charles Ricketts, C. Hazlewood
Shannon, E. A. Walton, Joseph Farquharson, Maurice Greiffenhagen, Will
Rothenstein, G. Sauter, Francis Howard. It stated, with a clumsiness
Whistler could hardly have passed had he seen the circular beforehand,
that the object of the Society was the much-needed "organisation
in London of Exhibitions of the finest Art of the time ... the
non-recognition of nationality in Art, and the hanging and placing
of works irrespective of such consideration.... The Exhibitions,
filling as they will an unoccupied place in the cosmopolitan ground of
International Art, will not be in opposition to existing institutions."

An Executive Council appointed itself, and on February 16, 1898,
Whistler was unanimously elected Chairman. The most distinguished
artists of every nationality were invited to join an Honorary Council.
The Executive, to which J., on Whistler's nomination, was elected in
March, was to have entire charge of the affairs of the exhibition.
There were to be no ordinary members, but only honorary members by
invitation.

Jealousies and preferences immediately crept in. Mr. Gilbert resigned,
which was much to be regretted, and several other English members
withdrew from the Council, which speedily became as international
as the name of the society, the International Society of Sculptors,
Painters, and Gravers, into which it formed itself two months later
(April 23), when officers were elected, and Whistler, proposed by Mr.
Lavery and seconded by Mr. J. J. Shannon, was chosen President, Mr.
Lavery Vice-President, and Mr. Francis Howard, Honorary Secretary.

The International was the second society of artists over which Whistler
presided. Only ten years had passed since his resignation from the
British Artists, but the change in his position before the world was
great. The British Artists, an old and decrepit body, had chosen him
as President in the hope that his "notoriety" and his following of
young men would bring the advertisement they needed; the International,
a young, vigorous organisation, elected him because they knew that no
other artist could give them such distinction and distinguished foreign
artists such assurance that their work would be hung in a country
where previously, through fear of competition and insular prejudice,
it had been rejected. In the eighties Whistler was mistrusted; in
the nineties he was acknowledged as one of the great artists of the
century. The change in his position was not greater than his influence
on contemporary art. This influence had been pointed out by the few
for some years past. But the last decade had strengthened it until it
could no longer be denied. The younger generation had accepted him in
the meanwhile, admitted their debt to him, and proclaimed it openly in
their work. The New English Art Club abjured subject and sentiment for
the "painter's poetry" wherever it might lurk, whether in the London
bus transformed by the London atmosphere, or in the _Lion-Comique_,
transfigured on the music-hall stage; though, as Whistler once said,
the New English Art Club was "only a raft," while the International was
to be a "battleship" of which he would take command. The Glasgow School
accepted his teaching and then copied his technique, in some cases
pushing imitation to folly. But still, all that was healthiest and
best in the art of the country came from these two groups, and members
of both had made an international reputation before the International
was founded. Even in the Academy anecdote had lost for an interval
its pre-eminence, and it looked as if Academicians might begin to
understand that the painter's sole object need not be to tell a story.
Besides, there were two artists, R. A. M. Stevenson and J., writing
upon art, and they taught young men to have faith in Whistler, and the
"new criticism was born," and D. S. MacColl was the name of the first
and only child.

Nor was Whistler's influence confined to England. From the early
eighties, when the jury was becoming more representative at the old
_Salon_, the pictures he sent to it had been hung. From the early
nineties the new _Salon_ gave them prominence. Other recent influences
in France had waxed and waned. The realism of Bastien-Lepage, which
sank into photography with painters of less accomplishment, and the
square brush-mark were already _vieux jeu_. Impressionism had swamped
itself in chemical problems, and the technique of the Impressionists
had been degraded to the exaggerations and absurdities of the
_Rose-Croix_, to be swamped in turn by the latest fad of all. Whistler
brought with him technical sanity, a feeling for beauty and reverence
for tradition, and he, who had been called the most eccentric of
_poseurs_ in paint, led the way back to dignity and reticence in art,
from which he had never swerved. His example was revealed in the work
of artists of every nationality, either by frank imitation or else
by their attitude towards Nature or the reserve of their technique.
Because of this universal recognition, he was best qualified for the
Presidency of an International Society of Artists.

The honour was paid him by no official body. Officially, to the last,
he was destined to go without due recognition. In France he was an
ordinary _Sociétaire_ of the _Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts_.
The National Academy of Design in America was as indifferent to him
as the Royal Academy in England. His membership in the Academies of
Dresden, Munich, Rome, and Scotland was a compliment--a compliment
he could and did appreciate--but it carried no responsibilities and
required no active work, and almost all these honours came after the
International was started. But the new society, if not official,
included on its executive the strongest outsiders in Great Britain,
and had the support of the most distinguished men of his profession
throughout the world. Their choice of him was an acknowledgment of his
supremacy as artist and an expression of confidence in him as leader,
and he took no less pleasure in their tribute than trouble not to
disappoint their expectations. His experience with the British Artists
was a help in constituting the Society. The sole authority rested
with the Executive Council, the members of which elected themselves
and could not be got rid of except by their voluntary resignation or
expulsion. Theoretically the idea was magnificent, if the narrowest
and most autocratic. "Napoleon and I do these things," Whistler said,
and Suffolk Street had taught him that an intelligent autocrat is
the best leader possible. His policy, if autocratic, was broad. In
most societies painting held a monopoly, but, in his, sculpture and
"graving" should have equal importance. All his rules were far-seeing
and practical, and the decline of the Society since his death is due
to the disregard of them: a disregard which his associates still on the
Council who are true to his memory cannot prevent--or forget.

The first exhibition was opened in May 1898. The Skating Rink at
Knightsbridge was divided into three large and two small galleries.
Whistler's scheme of decoration was adopted, and the hanging was more
perfect than any up to that time even on the Continent. The President's
velarium, without question of patent, was used, and he designed the
seal for the Society and the cover of the catalogue. The artistic
success of the show could not be questioned. No such collection of
modern art had been seen in London, a proof that Whistler was as
broad as the painters and the populace were sure he was narrow. The
"Why drag in Velasquez?" story is often quoted by the ignorant and
the foolish and the stupid. In this Exhibition he dragged in everyone
of eminence, for, though the ignorant and the foolish and the stupid
may never understand, the "Why drag in Velasquez?" was uttered only
for their benefit. Whistler showed a group of early pictures: _At
the Piano_, _La Princesse du Pays de la Porcelaine_, _Rosa Corder_,
with later works: _The Philosopher_, _The Little Blue Bonnet_, his
own half-length portrait in a white jacket, _Brown and Gold_. The
sculpture was as interesting as the painting. There were drawings and
engravings. Besides, his idea was to have special exhibitions, and
Aubrey Beardsley, who had just died, was honoured. Before the show was
over delegates were sent, and communications received, from Paris and
Venice asking for an exchange of exhibitions.

Whistler came from Paris for the opening, a quiet affair as the
endeavour to obtain the presence of the Prince of Wales failed, and
he lunched with the Council on the opening day and attended one or
two Sunday afternoon receptions. He agreed that a fine illustrated
catalogue should be published by Mr. Heinemann, with _The Little Blue
Bonnet_, in photogravure, as frontispiece. If the first exhibition was
a complete artistic success it proved a complete financial failure. But
luckily the Society had no pecuniary responsibility.

Whistler knew it is impossible for a man to serve actively in two rival
societies; he had said so to the British Artists; and he determined
that members of the Council of the International who were members of
other societies must leave the Society, or, if not, he would. His
decision was precipitated by a new election to the Council. He was in
Paris, and the fact that two members of the Council, Lavery and J.,
left London at an hour's notice for the Rue du Bac to arrange matters
with him shows how anxious he was for the welfare of his Society. They
arrived early in the morning. Whistler was not up, but sent word that
they must breakfast with him in the studio. During breakfast he talked
of everything but the Society; after breakfast he made them listen
to a Fourth of July spread-eagle oration squeaked out of a primitive
gramophone that somebody had given him and that he loved; and it was
not until twenty minutes before they had to start back that he referred
to the Council. Then he had all his plans ready, and he stated what he
proposed to do, and what he wanted done, what must be done--we might
add, what was done. And not only at every crisis, but in every detail,
he directed the management of the Society, and he demanded that every
report, every project should be submitted to him. He expected the
deference due to him as President, and in return he gave his unswerving
support. Even during his last illness nothing was done without his
knowledge and approval.

The second International Exhibition, or "Art Congress," was held at
Knightsbridge from May to July 1899. The President came over when the
hanging was finished. It was arranged this year that a special show of
his etchings should be made, and a small room was decorated and called
the White Room. As Whistler was in Paris, he asked J. and Mrs. Whibley
to go to the studio and select the prints. J. chose a number that had
not been seen before, principally from the _Naval Review Series_.
Whistler, for some reason, resented the selection when he saw the
prints on the walls. The Committee were in consternation and sent for
J. Whistler said to him:

"Now look what you have done!"

"But what have I done? Have I done you any harm?"

And that was the end of it. His objection may have been because he
feared, as we remember his saying of these prints another time, that
they were "beyond the understanding of the abomination outside." But
his fury lasted only for the moment, and he and Lavery and J. passed a
good part of the night at work in the gallery on the catalogue.

Whistler received on the opening day, and in the evening the first of
the Round Table Council dinners was held at the Café Royal, Sir James
Guthrie presiding. In an admirable speech he expressed not only the
delight of the Council at being able to enlist the sympathy and aid of
Whistler, but their love and appreciation for the man and his work. The
sympathy then existing between the President and most of the Council
was genuine, and he appreciated it as much as they did. After dinner
a few of the Council went with him to Sir John Lavery's, where he was
staying, and there he read _The Baronet and the Butterfly_, which had
just appeared in Paris. This, because of absence or ill-health, was the
only Council dinner he went to, though for a time there was one every
year, and at several Rodin presided.

To the second exhibition the President sent several small canvases
recently finished. Again the infallible critics discussed them as
promising works of the past, and were made to eat their words, and
again in the catalogue Whistler quoted the _Times_, and to its
opinion of to-day of "... the vanished hand which drew the _Symphony
in White_ and _Miss Alexander_" compared its opinion "of the moment"
of those two pictures, when the _Miss Alexander_ suggested a sketch
left "before the colours were dry in a room where the chimney-sweeps
were at work," and was "uncompromisingly vulgar." "Other Times, other
lines!" was Whistler's comment. Three illustrated catalogues were
published by Messrs. W. H. Ward and Company. Whistler's _Chelsea
Rags_ and _Trouville_ were both included in the ordinary editions,
and the _Little Lady Sophie of Soho_ and _Lillie in our Alley_ were
added to the _édition de luxe_. The catalogues until 1910, when even
Whistler's _format_ was discarded, are the most interesting issued by
any society. The second exhibition was less of a success financially
than the first, and the Society of Artists came near being involved in
the crash which overtook the financing company. To avoid complications
Whistler insisted that the Society should have an Honorary Solicitor
and Treasurer, and Mr. William Webb was appointed.

In the first and second exhibitions the art of the world was
represented as it never had been before in England,[12] as it never
has been since. In both, attempts to attract the public with music
and receptions and entertainments were made, but Whistler objected to
music, saying that the two arts should be kept separate, that people
who came to hear the music could not see the pictures, and people who
came to see the pictures would not want to hear the music. There were
misunderstandings with the proprietor and the promoters, the former
wishing to see some of his friends represented, and the latter to see
some of their money back, and the outlook was gloomy. Whistler wrote a
memorable letter in which he said that he, as commander, proposed to
repel pirates and sink their craft, and they never openly got aboard,
though a few stowaways did creep in.

No show was held in 1900, the Paris Universal Exhibition taking
up the members' energy, and not until the autumn of 1901 was the
third exhibition opened at the Galleries of the Royal Institute in
Piccadilly. There had been official and other changes. Professor Sauter
had been made Honorary Secretary, _pro tem._, and the Society, which
up till now had consisted of the Council only, admitted Associates,
and with their election the international character began to wane,
for, out of thirty-two Associates elected, twenty-eight were resident
in Great Britain. This exhibition was the first to be financially
successful. The President sent seven small paintings and pastels.
_Phryne the Superb_ was reproduced in the catalogue, as well as _Gold
and Orange--The Neighbours_, and _Green and Silver--The Great Sea_.

Professor Sauter devoted himself to furthering the International
idea of the President, and under his Secretaryship the Society held
exhibitions of its English members' work in Budapest, Munich, and
afterwards in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and St. Louis. On
June 11, 1903, Professor Sauter was relieved temporarily of the
Secretaryship and J. took his place. Within a few weeks it was his sad
duty to call a meeting to announce to the Society the loss they had
sustained by the death of their President.

The Council determined to follow the traditions of Whistler and to
honour his memory. Not only were the American exhibitions held, but
the Society organised a show of British art in Dusseldorf, and made
arrangements for a Memorial Exhibition of the President's works in
London. In the autumn of 1903 M. Rodin accepted the Presidency, and
the fourth exhibition, the first held in the New Gallery, was opened
in January 1904, in which the late President was represented by the
_Symphony in White, No. III._, lent by Mr. Edmund Davis; _Rose and
Gold--The Tulip_, lent by Miss Birnie Philip; _Valparaiso_, lent by Mr.
Graham Robertson; _Symphony in Grey--Battersea_, lent by Mrs. Armitage;
and _Study for a Fan_, lent by Mr. C. H. Shannon.

[Illustration: A FRESHENING BREEZE

OIL

In the possession of J. S. Ure, Esq.

(_See page 367_)]

[Illustration: LILLIE IN OUR ALLEY

BROWN AND GOLD

OIL

In the possession of J. J. Cowan, Esq.

(_See page 361_)]

In 1905 the most important and successful show in the career of the
International Society of Sculptors, Painters, and Gravers was given;
the Memorial Exhibition of the works of James McNeill Whistler.
For complete success it lacked only the co-operation of Whistler's
executrix, which the Council originally understood was promised,
but which was ultimately withheld. Still, it was the most complete
exhibition of his works ever given, superior from every point of
view to the small show at the Scottish Academy the previous year, in
many respects to the Boston show of the same year, and to the Paris
Memorial Exhibition, 1905, which was disappointing. As can be seen from
the elaborate catalogue, more especially the beautifully illustrated
_édition de luxe_ published by Mr. Heinemann, the exhibition at the New
Gallery contained nearly all the principal oil-paintings, the largest
collection of etchings ever shown together, all but one or two of the
lithographs, and many of the pastels, water-colours, and drawings.

[Footnote 12: Sir Henry Cole, in the early sixties, had five
international shows at South Kensington.]



CHAPTER XLIV: THE ACADÉMIE CARMEN. THE YEARS EIGHTEEN NINETY-EIGHT TO
NINETEEN HUNDRED AND ONE.


In the autumn of 1898 a circular issued in Paris created a sensation
in the studios. Whistler was going to open a school, the _Académie
Whistler_. The announcement was made by his model, Madame Carmen
Rossi. Whistler at once wrote from Whitehall Court, where he was
staying (October 1, 1898), to the papers "to correct an erroneous
statement, or rather to modify an exaggeration, that an otherwise
_bona fide_ prospectus is circulating in Paris. An _atelier_ is to be
opened in the Passage Stanislas, and, in company with my friend, the
distinguished sculptor, Mr. MacMonnies, I have promised to attend its
classes. The _patronne_ has issued a document in which this new Arcadia
is described as the _Académie Whistler_ and further qualified as the
Anglo-American School. I would like it to be understood that, having
hitherto abstained from all plot of instruction, this is no sudden
assertion in the _Ville Lumière_ of my own. Nor could I be in any way
responsible for the proposed mysterious irruption in Paris of whatever
Anglo-American portends. 'American,' I take it, is synonymous with
modesty, and 'Anglo,' in art, I am unable to grasp at all, otherwise
than as suggestive of complete innocence and the blank of Burlington
House. I purpose only, then, to visit, as harmlessly as may be, in turn
with Mr. MacMonnies, the new academy which has my best wishes, and, if
no other good come of it, at least to rigorously carry out my promise
of never appearing anywhere else."

Whistler had nothing to do with the financial management, everything
with the system of teaching, and he said that he proposed to offer the
students his knowledge of a lifetime. It may be, as we have heard,
that he had been asked, with MacMonnies, to criticise the work of Ary
Renan's or Luc-Olivier Merson's students, and that this gave him the
idea of visiting a school under his own direction.

The Passage Stanislas is a small street running off the Rue
Notre-Dame-des-Champs; No. 6, a house of two storeys and a courtyard
or garden at the back which was afterwards covered with glass. Over
the front door the sign _Académie Whistler_ did appear, but only for a
short time. The glazed courtyard became a studio, and there was another
above to which a fine old staircase led. The house had been built, or
adapted, as a studio, and, except that the walls were distempered, no
change was made. The rooms were fitted up with school furniture; for
this, we believe, Whistler advanced the money. Within a few days a
vast number of pupils had put their names down, deserting the other
_ateliers_ of Paris. Some left the English schools, and still others
came from Germany and America. Whistler was delighted, telling us that
students were coming in squads, that the Passage was crowded, and that
owners of carriages struggled with _rapins_ and prize-winners to get in.

Miss Inez Bate (Mrs. Clifford Addams), who was among the earliest to
put down her name, who remained in the school till the end and who
became Whistler's apprentice, has not only told us the story of the
_Académie Carmen_, but has given us her record of it and of Whistler's
methods of teaching, written at his request and partially corrected by
him. It is the record of his "knowledge of a lifetime," for he taught
in the school the truths he had been years formulating, and is of the
greatest importance, as valuable a document as the treatise of Cennino
Cennini. In the future Mrs. Addams' statement, revised by Whistler,
will live.

He insisted on seriousness. The _Académie Carmen_ was not to be like
other schools; instead of singing, there was to be no talking; smoking
was not allowed; the walls were not to be decorated with charcoal;
studio cackle was forbidden; if people wanted these things, they could
go back from whence they came. He was to be received as a master
visiting his pupils, not as a good fellow in his shirt-sleeves. For the
first weeks things did not go very well. Carmen was not used to her
post, the students were not used to such a master, and Whistler was not
used to them. A _massier_ was appointed, and the men and women who had
been working together were separated and two classes formed. Within a
short time Mrs. Addams was chosen _massière_, a position she held until
the school closed. She writes:

"The _Académie_ began its somewhat disturbed career in the fall of
1898. A letter was received from Mr. Whistler announcing that he would
shortly appear, and, on the day appointed, the _Académie Carmen_ had
the honour of receiving him for the first time. He proceeded to look at
the various studies, most carefully noting under whose teaching and in
what school each student's former studies had been pursued.

"Most kindly something was said to each, and to one student who
offered apology for his drawing, Mr. Whistler said simply, 'It is
unnecessary--I really come to learn--feeling you are all much cleverer
than I.'

"Mr. Whistler, before he left, expressed to the _Patronne_ his wish
that there should be separate _ateliers_ for the ladies and gentlemen
and that the present habit of both working together should be
immediately discontinued.

"His second visit was spent in consideration of the more advanced
students. One, whose study suffered from the introduction of an
unbeautiful object in the background, because it happened to be there,
was told that, 'One's study, even the most unpretentious, is always
one's picture, and must be, in form and arrangement, a perfect harmony
from the beginning.' With this unheard-of advice, Mr. Whistler turned
to the students, whose work he had been inspecting and intimated that
they might begin to paint, and so really learn to draw, telling them
that the true understanding of drawing the figure comes by having
learned to appreciate the subtle modellings by the use of the infinite
gradation that paint makes possible.

"On his third visit he turned to one student and picked up her palette,
pointing out that being the instrument on which the painter plays his
harmony, it must be beautiful always, as the tenderly-cared-for violin
of the great musician.

"He suggested that it would be a pleasure to show them his way of
painting, and if this student could, without too much difficulty,
clean her palette, he would endeavour to show them 'the easiest way of
getting into difficulties.'

"And it was then that Mr. Whistler's palette was given. His whole
system lies in the complete mastery of the palette--on the palette the
work must be done before transferring one note on to the canvas.

"He recommended the small oval palettes as being easy to hold. White
was placed at the top edge in the centre, in generous quantity, and to
the left came in succession yellow ochre, raw sienna, burnt sienna, raw
umber, cobalt, and mineral blue; while to right, vermilion, Venetian
red, Indian red, and black. Sometimes the burnt sienna would be placed
between the Venetian and Indian red, but generally the former placing
of colours was insisted upon.

"A mass of colour, giving the fairest tone of the flesh, would then be
mixed and laid in the centre of the palette near the top, and a broad
band of black curving downward from this mass of light flesh-note
to the bottom, gave the greatest depth possible in any shadow, and
so, between the prepared light and the black, the colour was spread,
and mingled with any of the various pure colours necessary to obtain
the desired changes of note, until there appeared on the palette a
tone-picture of the figure that was to be painted, and at the same
time a preparation for the background was made on the left in equally
careful manner.

"Many brushes were used, each one containing a full quantity of
every dominant note, so that when the palette presented as near a
reproduction of the model and background as the worker could obtain,
the colour could be put down with a generous flowing brush.

"Mr. Whistler said, 'I do not interfere with your individuality. I
place in your hands a sure means of expressing it, if you can learn
to understand, and if you have your own sight still.' Each student
prepared his or her palette, in some the mass of light would exceed the
dark, in others the reverse would be the case. Mr. Whistler made no
comments on these conditions of the students' palettes: 'I do not teach
art; I teach the scientific application of paint and brushes.' His one
insistence was that no painting on the canvas should be begun until
the student felt he could go no further on the palette; the various
and harmonious notes were to represent, as nearly as he could see, the
model and background that he was to paint.

"Mr. Whistler would often refrain from looking at the students' canvas,
but would carefully examine the palette, saying that there he could see
the progress being made, and that it was really much more important
for it to present a beautiful appearance, than for the canvas to be
fine and the palette inharmonious. He said, 'If you cannot manage your
palette, how are you going to manage your canvas?'

"These statements sounded like heresy to the majority of the students,
and they refused to believe the reason and purpose of such teaching,
and as they had never before received even a hint to consider the
palette of primary importance, they insisted in believing that this was
but a peculiarity of Mr. Whistler's manner of working, and that, to
adopt it, would be with fatal results!

"The careful attempts to follow the subtle modellings of flesh placed
in a quiet, simple light, and therefore extremely grey and intricate in
its change of form, brought about necessarily, in the commencement of
each student's endeavour, a rather low-toned result. One student said
to Mr. Whistler that she did not wish to paint in such low tones, but
wanted to keep her colour pure and brilliant; he answered, 'then keep
it in the tubes, it is your only chance at first.'

"They were taught to look upon the model as a sculptor would, using the
paint as a modeller does his clay; to create on the canvas a statue,
using the brush as a sculptor his chisel, following carefully each
change of note, which means 'form'; it being preferable that the figure
should be presented in a simple manner, without an attempt to obtain
a thousand changes of colour that are there in reality, and make it,
first of all, _really and truly exist in its proper atmosphere_, than
that it should present a brightly coloured image, pleasing to the eye,
but without solidity and non-existent on any real plane. This, it
will be seen, was the reason of Mr. Whistler's repeated and insistent
commands to give the background the most complete attention, believing
that by it alone the figure had a reason to exist.

"Mr. Whistler would often paint for the students.

"Once he modelled a figure, standing in the full, clear light of the
_atelier_, against a dull, rose-coloured wall. After spending almost
an hour upon the palette, he put down with swift, sure touches, the
notes of which his brushes were already generously filled, so subtle
that those standing close to the canvas saw apparently no difference
in each successive note as it was put down, but those standing at the
proper distance away noticed the general turn of the body appear, and
the faint subtle modellings take their place, and finally, when the
last delicate touch of light was laid on, the figure was seen to exist
in its proper atmosphere and at its proper distance within the canvas,
modelled, as Mr. Whistler said, 'in painter's clay,' and ready to be
taken up the next day and carried yet further in delicacy, and the next
day further still, and so on until the end.

"And he insisted that it was as important to train the eye as the
hand, that long accustoming oneself to seeing crude notes in Nature,
spots of red, blue, and yellow in flesh where they are not, had harmed
the eye, and the training to readjust the real, quiet, subtle note of
Nature required long and patient study. 'To find the true note is the
difficulty; it is comparatively easy to employ it when found.'

"He once said that had he been given at the commencement of his
artistic career what he was then offering, his work would have been
different. But he found in his youth no absolute definite facts, and
he 'fell in a pit and floundered,' and from this he desired to save
whom he could. 'All is so simple,' he would say, 'it is based on proved
scientific facts; follow this teaching and you _must_ learn to paint;
not necessarily learn art, but, at least, absolutely learn to paint
what you see.'

"He also demanded the student to abandon all former methods of
teaching, unless in harmony with his own, and to approach the science
as taught by himself in a simple and trustful manner.

"The students, used to having any little sketch praised, and finding
such efforts remained unnoticed by Mr. Whistler, while an intelligent
and careful, though to their eyes stupid, attempt to model in simple
form and colour would receive approbation, grew irritated, and the
majority left for a more congenial atmosphere.

"It was pointed out that a child, in the simple innocence of infancy,
painting the red coat of the toy soldier red indeed, is in reality
nearer the great truth than the most accomplished trickster with his
clever brushwork and brilliant manipulation of many colours.

"'Distrust everything you have done without understanding it. It is not
sufficient to achieve a fine piece of painting. You must know _how_
you did it, that the next time you can do it again, and never have to
suffer from that disastrous state of the clever artist, whose friends
say to him, what a charming piece of painting, do not touch it again,
and, although he knows it is incomplete, yet he dare not but comply,
_because he knows he might never get the same clever effect again_.

"'Remember which of the colours you most employed, how you managed
the turning of the shadow into the light, and if you do not remember
scrape out your work and do it all over again, for one _fact_ is worth
a thousand misty imaginings. You must be able to do every part equally
well, for the greatness of a work of art lies in the perfect harmony of
the whole, not in the fine painting of one or more details.'

"It was many months before a student produced a canvas which showed a
grasp of the science he had so patiently been explaining. Mr. Whistler
delighted in this, and had the canvas placed on an easel and in a
frame that he might more clearly point out to the other students the
reason of its merit; it showed primarily an understanding of the two
great principles; first, it represented a figure _inside_ the frame
and surrounded by the atmosphere of the studio, and secondly, it was
created of one piece of flesh, simply but firmly painted and free from
mark of brush. As the weeks went on, and the progress in this student's
work continued, Mr. Whistler finally handed over to her [Mrs. Addams]
the surveillance of the new-comers and the task of explaining to them
the first principles of his manner.

"The _Académie_ had the distinction of causing the rumour that
something was being taught there, something definite and absolute.

"A large number of students who had been in the _Académie_ for a short
time and left, returned, dissatisfied with other schools, that they
might once more satisfy themselves that nothing was to be learned there
after all.

"Mr. Whistler allowed this to continue for some time, but finally, the
fatigue of such constant changes caused him to issue an order that the
_Académie Carmen_ should be tried but once.

"The students in the men's life-class were constantly changing.
On Christmas Day, Mr. Whistler invited them to visit him in his
_atelier_ and showed them many of his own canvases in various stages
of completeness; explaining how certain results had been obtained, and
how certain notes had been blended, and assuring them that he used the
science he was teaching them, only that each student would arrange
it according to his own needs as time went on, begging them not to
hesitate to ask him any question that they wished, or to point out
anything they failed to understand. There was an increased enthusiasm
for a few weeks, but gradually the old spirit of misunderstanding and
mistrust returned, and the men's class again contained but few students.

"Another disappointment to them was that Mr. Whistler explained when
they showed him pictures they had painted with a hope to exploit as
pupils of the Master in the yearly _Salon_, that this was impossible,
that their complete understanding of the Great Principles and the
fitting execution of their application could not be a matter of a few
months' study, and he told them he was like a chemist who put drugs
into bottles, and he certainly should not send those bottles out in his
name unless he was quite satisfied with, and sure of, the contents.

"The last week of the first year arrived, and Mr. Whistler spent
the whole of each morning at the _Académie_. The supervision of one
student's work was so satisfactory that he communicated with her,
after the closing of the _Académie_, to announce that he desired to
enter into an apprenticeship with her, for a term of five years, as
he considered it would take fully that time to teach her the whole of
his Science and make of her a finished craftsman; with her artistic
development he never for a moment pretended to interfere--'that,' he
said, 'is or is not superb--it was determined at birth, but I can teach
you _how to paint_.'

"So, on the 20th of July (1899), the Deed of Apprenticeship [with Mrs.
Addams] was signed and legally witnessed, and she 'bound herself to her
Master to learn the Art and Craft of a painter, faithfully to serve
after the manner of an Apprentice for the full term of five years, his
secrets keep and his lawful commands obey, she shall do no damage to
his goods nor suffer it to be done by others, nor waste his goods, nor
lend them unlawfully, nor do any act whereby he might sustain loss,
nor sell to other painters nor exhibit during her apprenticeship nor
absent herself from her said Master's service unlawfully, but in all
things as a faithful Apprentice shall behave herself towards her said
Master and others during the said term.... And the said Master, on his
side, undertakes to teach and instruct her, or cause her to be taught
and instructed. But if she commit any breach of these covenants he may
immediately discharge her.'

"Into the hands of his Apprentice--also now the _massière_--Mr.
Whistler gave the opening of the school the second year, sending all
instructions to her from Pourville, where he was staying.

"Each new candidate for admission should submit an example of his or
her work to the _massière_, and so prevent the introduction into the
_Académie_ of, first, those who were at present incompetent to place
a figure in fair drawing upon the canvas; and secondly, those whose
instruction in an adverse manner of painting had gone so far that
their work would cause dissension and argument in the _Académie_.
Unfortunately, this order was not well received by some, though the
majority were willing to accede to any desire on the part of Mr.
Whistler.

"A number absolutely refused to suffer any rule, and preferred to
distrust what they could not understand, and the talk among the
students of the _Quartier_ was now in disparagement of the _Académie_.

"Compositions were never done in the school. It was so much more
important to learn to paint and draw, for, as Mr. Whistler said, 'if
ever you saw anything really perfectly beautiful, suppose you could
not draw and paint!'--'The faculty for compositions is part of the
artist, he has it, or he has it not--he cannot acquire it by study--he
will only learn to adjust the composition of others, and, at the
same time, he uses his faculty in every figure he draws, every line
he makes, while in the large sense, composition may be dormant from
childhood until maturity, and there it will be found in all its fresh
vigour, waiting for the craftsman to use the mysterious quality in his
adjustment of his perfect drawings to fit their spaces.'

"The third and last year (1900) of the _Académie Carmen_ was marked
at its commencement by the failure to open a men's life-class. Mr.
Whistler had suffered so greatly during the preceding years from their
inability to comprehend his principles and also from the short time the
students remained in the school, that at the latter part of the season
he often refused to criticise in the men's class at all. He would call
sometimes on Sunday mornings and take out and place upon easels the
various studies that had been done by the men the previous week, and
often he would declare that nothing interested him among them and that
he should not criticise that week, that he could not face the fatigue
of the 'blankness' of the _atelier_.

"The _Académie_ was opened in October 1900 by a woman's life-class
which was well attended. The school had been moved to an old building
in the Boulevard Montparnasse, but shortly after Mr. Whistler was taken
very ill and he was forced to leave England on a long voyage. He wrote
a letter to the students that never reached them, then, from Corsica,
another, with his best wishes for the New Century, and his explanation
of the doctor's abrupt orders. The _Académie_ was kept open by the
Apprentice until the end of March (1901), but the faith of the students
seemed unable to bear further trials, and after great discontent at
Mr. Whistler's continued absence and a gradual dwindling away of the
students until there were but one or two left, the Apprentice wrote of
this to Mr. Whistler."

Whistler wrote from Ajaccio a formal letter of dismissal to the few
students left, kissing the tips of their rosy fingers, bidding them
Godspeed and stating the case that history might be made. The reading
of the letter by the _massière_ in the _atelier_ closed the school, and
an experiment to which Whistler brought enthusiasm, only to meet from
the average student the distrust the average artist had shown him all
his life. One of the last things he did before the close was to make
an apprentice also of Mr. Clifford Addams, the one man who remained
faithful. And in his case, too, a Deed of Apprenticeship was drawn up
and signed.

The story of the _Académie_ is carried on in the following letter from
Mr. Frederick MacMonnies, concerning his connection with it:

"... I had always heard so much about his being impossible, but the
more I saw of him the more I realised that anyone who could quarrel
with him must be written down an ass.

"An instance of his rare straightforwardness and frankness in
friendship occurred in the Carmen School. He used to come up to my
studio just before breakfast, and we would go off to Lavenue's or the
Café du Cardinal.

"One morning he said he had a great affair on hand. Carmen was going to
open the school and he had agreed to teach, a thing he had always said
was shocking, useless, and encouragement of incapables. He suggested I
help him out with teaching the sculptor pupils and the drawing, so I
gladly agreed.

"All the schools in Paris were deserted immediately, and the funny
little studios of Carmen's place were packed with all kinds of boys and
girls, mostly Americans, who had tried all styles of teaching.

"Mr. Whistler, having a full sense of a picturesque _grande entrée_,
did not appear until the school was in full swing about a week after
the opening, and until the pupils had passed the palpitating stage and
were in a dazed state of expectancy and half collapsed into nervous
prostration. The various samples of such awaiting him represented the
methods of almost every teacher in Paris.

"He arrived, gloves and cane in hand, and enjoyed every minute of
his stay, daintily and gaily touching very weighty matters. A few
days after his arrival I went to the school and found the entire crew
painting as black as a hat--delicate, rose-coloured pearly models
translated into mulattoes, a most astonishing transformation. As time
went on the blackness increased. Finally, one day, I suggested to one
of the young women who was particularly dreary, to tone her study up.
She informed me she saw it so. I took her palette and keyed the figure
into something like the delicate and brilliant colouring, much to her
disgust. When I had finished, she informed me, 'Mr. Whistler told me to
paint it that way.' I told her she had misunderstood, that he had never
meant her to paint untrue. Several criticisms among the men of the same
sort of thing, and I left.

"Of course, all this was carried to Whistler, and a few days later
after breakfast, over his coffee, he waved his cigarette towards me
and said, 'Now, my dear MacMonnies, I like you--and I am going to talk
to you the way your mother does (he used to play whist in Paris with
my mother, and they made a most amusing combination). Now, you see,
I have always believed there has been something radically wrong with
all this teaching that has been going on in Paris all these years in
Julian's and the rest. I decided years ago the principle was false.
They give the young things men's food when they require pap. My idea is
to give them three or four colours--let them learn to model and paint
the form and line first until they are strong enough to use others. If
they become so, well and good; if not, let them sink out of sight.' I
suggested the doubt that their eyes might in this way be trained to see
wrong. No, he did not agree with that. Anyway, I apologised, and said I
was a presuming and meddlesome ass, and if I had known he was running
his school on a system, I would have remained silent. If you could have
seen the charming manner, the frank kindness and friendly spirit with
which he undertook to remonstrate, you would understand how much I
admired his generous spirit.

"Few men under the circumstances (I being very much his junior) would
not have made a great row and got upon their high horses, and we would
have quit enemies.

"Later, I found that the sculptor pupils did not arrive in droves to
be taught by me, and the drawing criticisms unnecessary, as the school
had become a tonal modelling school and my criticisms superfluous. I
proposed to Mr. Whistler that I was _de trop_, and that it could only
be properly done by him. He agreed and I left.

"M. Rodin (or his friends) wished to take my place, but Mr. Whistler,
I heard, said he could not under any circumstances have anyone replace
MacMonnies, as it might occasion comment unfavourable to me. Now I
consider that one of the rarest of friendly actions, as I knew he would
not have objected to Rodin otherwise.

"A canny, croaking friend of mine, who hated Whistler and never lost an
opportunity of misquoting and belittling him, dropped in at my house
a few nights after my resignation from the school, quite full up with
croaks of delight that we had fallen out, as he supposed, and that the
row he had long predicted had finally come. I laughed it off, and after
dinner a familiar knock, and who should be ushered in but Mr. Whistler,
asking my mother to play another game of whist.

"A rather amusing thing occurred in my studio.

"A rich and spread-eagle young American got into a tussle of wits with
Whistler--neither had met before (Whistler, however, knew and liked his
brother)--on the advantage of foreign study and life abroad.

[Illustration: THE COAST OF BRITTANY ALONE WITH THE TIDE

OIL

Formerly in the possession of Ross Winans, Esq.

(_See page 67_)]

[Illustration: THE SEA, POURVILLE

OIL

In the possession of A. A. Hannay, Esq.

(_See page 366_)]

[Illustration: THE FUR JACKET

ARRANGEMENT IN BLACK AND BROWN

OIL

(Picture in progress)

From a photograph lent by Pickford R. Waller, Esq.

(Completed picture)

In the Worcester Museum, Massachusetts

(_See page 432_)]

I cannot remember all the distinguished and amusing arguments or the
delightful appreciation of the French people of Whistler, or of the
rather boring and rather brutal jabbing of the young man. At any rate,
Whistler defended himself admirably, always keeping his temper, which
the young man wished him to lose in order to trip him up. I saw that
Whistler was bored and tried to separate them, but it had gone too far.
Finally, Whistler held out his hand and with his charming quizzical
smile said, 'Good-bye, oh, ah, I am so glad to have met you--on account
of your brother!'

"The year before Whistler died, in December, I went to America on a
short trip. I hadn't been home for a number of years. Whistler had
always said he would go back with me some time, so I telegraphed him
at Bath to induce him to come with me. He replied by telegram, 'Merry
Xmas, _bon voyage_, but I fear you will have to face your country
without me.'"

To anyone familiar with art schools Whistler's idea appeared
revolutionary, but he knew that he was carrying on the tradition of
Gleyre. Art schools are now conducted on such different principles
that a comparison may be useful. Usually the student is not taught to
do anything. The master puts him at drawing, telling him, after the
drawing is finished, where it is wrong. The student starts again and
drops into worse blunders because he has not been told how to avoid the
first. If he improves, it is by accident, or his own intelligence, more
than by teaching. At length, when the pupil has learned enough drawing
to avoid the mistakes of the beginner, and to make it difficult for the
master to detect his faults, he is put at painting, and the problem
becomes twice as difficult for the student. In drawing, each school
has some fixed method of working, nowhere more fixed than at the Royal
Academy, which leads to nothing--or Paris. In painting, the professor
corrects mistakes in colour, in tone, in value, which is easier than
to correct drawing, and the student becomes more confused than ever,
for he is in colour less likely than in drawing to tumble unaided on
the right thing. As to the use of colours, the mixing of colours, the
arrangement of the palette, the handling of tools--these are never
taught in modern schools. The result is that the new-comer imitates the
older students--the favourites--and shuffles along somehow. Any attempt
on the part of the master to impress his character on the students
would be resented by most of them, and any attempt at individuality
on their part would be resented by the master, for the official art
school, like the official technical school, is the resort of the
incompetent. The Royal Academy goes so far as to change the visitors
in its painting schools--that is, the teachers--every month, and the
confusion to the student handed on from Mr. Sargent to Sir Hubert von
Herkomer and then to Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema can hardly be imagined.

For this sort of art school Whistler had no toleration--its product is
the amateur or Academician. When he was asked, "Then you would do away
with all the art schools?" Whistler answered, "Not at all, they are
harmless, and it is just as well when the genius appears that he should
find the fire alight and the room warm, an easel close at hand and the
model sitting, but I have no doubt he'll alter the pose!"

Whistler would have liked to practise the methods of the Old Masters.
He would have taught the students from the beginning, from the grinding
and mixing of the colours. He believed that students should work with
him as apprentices worked with their masters in earlier times. Artists
then taught the student to work as they did. How much individuality,
save the master's, is shown in Rubens' canvases, mostly done by his
pupils? So long as Van Dyck remained with Rubens he worked in Rubens'
manner, learning his trade. When he felt strong enough to say what he
wanted to say in his own way as an accomplished craftsman, he left
the school and set up for himself. Raphael was trained in Perugino's
studio, helped his master, and, when he had learned all he could there,
opened one of his own. And this is the way Whistler wished his students
to work with him. The misfortune is that he made the experiment when
it was too late to profit by the skill of the pupils whom he wished to
train to be of use to him. He knew that it would take at least five
years for students to learn to use the tools he put in their hands, and
the fact that, at the end of three years, when the school closed, a few
of his pupils could paint well enough for their painting to be mistaken
for his shows how right he was. If, after five years, they could see
for themselves the beauty that was around them, they would by that time
have been taught how to paint it in their own way, for what he could do
was to teach them to translate their vision on to canvas. Mr. Starr
says that Whistler "told me to paint things exactly as I saw them.
'Young men think they should paint like this or that painter. Be quite
simple, no fussy foolishness, you know, and don't try to be what they
call strong. When a picture smells of paint,' he said slowly, 'it's
what they call strong.'"

Had his health been maintained, had he not been discouraged because
students mostly came to him with the desire to do work which looked
easy, great results would have been accomplished. His regret was that
students did not begin with him. Mrs. Addams has told us of the great
success of one, Miss Prince, who had never been in an art school. She
had nothing to unlearn. She understood, and, at the end of a year,
had made more progress than any. There were exceptions among the more
advanced, men who to-day are well-known artists and who, looking back,
admit how much they learned. Frederick Frieseke, Henry S. Hubbell, and
C. Harry White passed through the school. One of the few Frenchmen was
Simon Bussy, who describes Whistler as _très distingué, très fin, très
autoritaire_, though not so stimulating a master as Gustave Moreau,
under whom he had been studying. But the greater number of students,
elementary or advanced, thought that Whistler was going to teach them,
by some short cut, to arrive at distinction. When they found that,
though the system was different, they had to go through the same
drudgery as in any school, they were dissatisfied and left. Moreover,
the strict discipline and the separation of the sexes were unpopular.
Nor could they understand Whistler. Many of his sayings remembered by
them explain their bewilderment.

One day, Whistler, going into the class, found three new pupils. To
these he said:

"Where have you studied?"

"With Chase."

"Couldn't have done better!"

"And where have you studied?"

"With Bonnat."

"You couldn't have done better!"

"Where have you studied?"

"I have never studied anywhere, Mr. Whistler."

"I am sure you could not have done better!"

To the young lady who told him that she was painting what she saw, he
answered, "The shock will come when you see what you paint!"

To the man who was smoking, he said, "Really, you had better stop
painting, for you might get interested in your work, and your pipe
would go out!"

Of a superior amateur he inquired, "Have you been through college? I
suppose you shoot? Fish, of course? Go in for football, no doubt? Yes?
Well, then I can let you off for painting."

We asked Whistler how much truth there was in these stories. His answer
was: "Well, you know, the one thing I cannot be responsible for in my
daily life is the daily story about me."

But he admitted they were, in the main, true. He added one incident we
have heard from no one else that explains a peculiarity to which we
have referred. In Venice, he said, he got into the habit, as he worked
on his plates, of blowing away the little powder raised by the needle
ploughing through the varnish to the copper, and, unconsciously, he
kept on blowing when painting or drawing. Once, after he had painted
before the students and had left the studio, there was heard in the
silence a sound of blowing. Then another student began blowing away as
he worked, and so they went on. "Well," they said, "already we have _la
manière_, and that is much." Whistler heard of it and broke himself of
the habit. One day he saw on the wall in the men's studio, written in
charcoal:

"_I bought a palette just like his,
  His colours and his brush.
The devil of it is, you see,
  I did not buy his touch._"

Whistler's methods and manner confused the average students who came,
but his faith in his system was as great as the students' unbelief.
He suggested that his criticisms of their work should be recorded
on a gramophone. He thought of opening another class in London. The
only time E. saw the _Académie_, towards the beginning of the second
year, the whole place was full of life and go. In the end, the want of
confidence in him, his illness, and his absence broke up the school.
But he sowed seed which will bring forth a thousandfold. For, just
as his theory of art is now recognised as he stated it in _The Ten
O'Clock_, so will his practice, proved by his work and teaching, be
accepted in the future.



CHAPTER XLV: THE BEGINNING OF THE END. THE YEAR NINETEEN HUNDRED.


In the spring of 1900 an event of great importance in our relations
with Whistler occurred. Towards the end of May he asked us to write
his Life. Now that his fame was established, a great deal, indeed far
too much, was written about him. Unauthorised publications appeared
or were in preparation, and it was evident that more would follow.
Whistler shrank from being written about by people not in sympathy with
him or incapable of understanding him. He was, and is, to many critics
and commentators a riddle or an affront. Mistakes were made, facts
were distorted. Mr. Heinemann suggested, first that he should write
his autobiography, then that his biography should be written with his
authority by someone in whom he had confidence. Mr. Heinemann thought
of Henley, but Whistler objected. Mr. Charles Whibley was proposed by
Mr. Heinemann, but again Whistler objected. It was after this that
either Mr. Heinemann or Whistler mentioned the name of Joseph Pennell.

We had been abroad for a few days, and returned to London on May 28
to find a letter from Mr. Heinemann telling J. of this "magnificent
opportunity." No one could appreciate more fully the honour as well as
the responsibility. J. saw Whistler at once, and said, "You are the
modern Cellini and you should write it yourself."

Whistler had neither the time nor patience, but he promised to
contribute what he could to J.'s book. We knew that while staying at
Whitehall Court he had written two, or perhaps more, autobiographical
chapters at Mr. Heinemann's suggestion. Miss Birnie Philip, after the
first edition of our _Life_ was published, though we had proved our
authority in the English Law Courts, wrote to the _Times_ (November 24,
1908) that Whistler "stated his objections to biographers in a fragment
written in 1896 of what was intended to be the story of his life. The
following passages will make his opinions clear:

"'Determined that no mendacious scamp shall tell the foolish truths
about me when centuries have gone by, and anxiety no longer pulls
at the pen of the "pupil" who would sell the soul of his master, I
now proceed to take the wind out of such speculator by immediately
furnishing myself the fiction of my own biography, which shall remain,
and is the story of my life....

"'Curiously, too, I find no grief in noting the closing of more than
one middle-aged eye that I had before now caught turned warily upon me
with a view to future foolscap improved from slight intimacy....

"'How tiresome, indeed, are the Griswolds of this world, and how
offensive. Pinning their unimportant names on the linen of the great
as they return the intercepted wash, they go down to Posterity with
their impudent bill, and Posterity accepts and remembers them as the
unrequited benefactors of ungrateful genius!'"

This, according to Miss Birnie Philip, was written in 1896. Whistler
added to the record, Mr. Heinemann says, while living with him at
Whitehall Court. But Whistler soon found the task beyond him, and so,
changing his mind on the subject, asked J. to write the story of his
life and his work in 1900.

Almost immediately it was arranged that E. should collaborate and that
we should do the book together. Whistler promised to help us in every
way and, when in the mood, to tell us what he could about himself and
his life, with the understanding that we were to take notes. He was not
a man from whom dates and facts could be forced. His method was not
unlike that of Dr. Johnson, who, when Boswell asked for biographical
details, said, "They'll come out by degrees as we talk together."
Whistler had to talk in his own fashion, or not at all; we were to
listen, no matter where we met or under what conditions. It was also
agreed that there were to be two volumes, one devoted to his life, the
other to his work, and that photographs should be taken of the pictures
in his studio to illustrate the volumes. Whistler's pictures were being
carried off only too quickly, and whatever we needed for illustration,
or as a record, would have to be photographed at once.

The duty of making the notes fell to E., and, from that time until his
death, she kept an account of our meetings with him. He was true to
his promise. We were often in the studio, and he spent evening after
evening with us. Sometimes we dined with him at Garlant's Hotel or at
the Café Royal, sometimes we met at Mr. Heinemann's, but usually he
dined with us in Buckingham Street, coming so frequently that he said
to us one June evening:

"Well, you know, you will feel about me as I did in the old days about
the man I could never ask to dinner because he was always there! I
couldn't ask him to sit down, because there he always was, already in
his chair!"

Once he told E. to write to J., who was out of town, that he was
living on our staircase. During those evenings he gave us many facts
and much material used in previous chapters. He began by telling us of
the years at home, his student days in Paris, his coming to Chelsea,
and, though dates were not his strong point, we soon had a consecutive
story of that early period. Every evening made us wish more than ever
that he could have written instead of talking, for we soon discovered
the difficulty of rendering his talk. He used to reproach J. with
"talking shorthand," but no one was a greater master of the art than
himself. And so much of its meaning was in the pause, the gesture, the
punctuating hands, the laugh, the adjusting of the eye-glass, the quick
look from the keen blue eyes flashing under the bushy eyebrows. The
impression left with us from the close intercourse of this summer was
of his wonderful vitality, his inexhaustible youth. As yet illness had
not sapped his energy. He was sixty-six, but only the greyness of the
ever-abundant hair, the wrinkles, the loose throat suggested age. He
held himself as erect, he took the world as gaily, his interests were
as fresh as if he were beginning life. Some saw a sign of feebleness in
the nap after dinner, but this was a habit of long standing, and after
ten minutes, or less, he was awake, revived for the talk that went on
until midnight and later.

Whistler wished us to have the photographing in the studio begun
without delay. Our first meeting, after the preliminaries were settled,
was on June 2, 1900; on the 6th the photographer and his assistant were
in Fitzroy Street with J. to superintend. It took long to select the
things which should be done first, Mr. Gray, the photographer, picking
out those which he thought would come best, Whistler preferring others
that Gray feared might not come at all, though the idea was that, in
the end, everything in the studio should be photographed. Whistler
found himself shoved in a corner, barricaded behind two or three big
cameras, and he could scarcely stir. He grew impatient, he insisted
that he must work. As the light was not good for the photographer,
some canvases were moved out in the hall, some were put on the roof,
but the best place was discovered to be Mr. Wimbush's studio in the
same building. Whistler went with J. through the little cabinets where
pastels and prints were kept, and decided that a certain number must be
worked on, but that the others could be photographed. Then they lunched
together with Miss Birnie Philip, Gray photographing all the while, and
then Whistler's patience was exhausted and everybody was turned out
until the next day, when Gray came again. And the next day, and many
next days, J. would go to Fitzroy Street and Whistler would say, "Now
you must wait," and he would wait in the little ante-room with Marie,
and Whistler would talk away through the open door until J. was brought
into the studio to see the finishing-touches added to the day's work.
This explains the beginning of our difficulties and the reason why our
progress was not rapid.

We have spoken of the fever of work that had taken hold of Whistler.
He dreaded to lose a second. He was rarely willing to leave the studio
during the day or, if he did, it was to work somewhere else, as when
he went to Sir Frank Short's and, as he told us the same evening,
pulled nineteen prints before lunch, and all the joy in it came back,
but he did not return in the afternoon, because, "well, you know, my
consideration for others quite equals my own energy." For himself he
had no consideration, and his work seldom stopped. We remember one
late afternoon during the summer, when he had asked us to come to the
studio, finding tea on the table and Whistler at his easel. "We must
have tea at once or it will get cold," he said, and went on painting.
Ten minutes later he said again, "We must have tea," and again went
on painting. And the tea waited for a half-hour before he could lay
down his brushes, and then it was to place the canvas in a frame and
look at it for another ten minutes. When an invited interruption was
to him a hindrance, he could not but find Mr. Gray, with his huge
apparatus, a nuisance. A good many photographs, however, were made at
Fitzroy Street, and Whistler helped to get permission for pictures to
be photographed wherever the photographing did not interfere with his
work. In England, America, and on the Continent many pictures which
had not been reproduced, and to which access could be obtained, were
photographed.

Nothing interested Whistler more this year than the Universal
Exhibition in Paris, and he and Mr. John M. Cauldwell, the American
Commissioner, understood each other after a first encounter. Mr.
Cauldwell, coming to Paris to arrange the exhibition, with little
time at his disposal and a great deal to do, wrote to ask Whistler to
call on a certain day "at 4.30 sharp." Whistler's answer was that,
though appreciating the honour of the invitation, he regretted his
inability to meet Mr. Cauldwell, as he never had been able and never
should be able to be anywhere "at 4.30 sharp," and it looked as if the
unfortunate experience of 1889 might be repeated. But when Whistler met
Mr. Cauldwell, when he found how much deference was shown him, when he
saw the decoration and arrangement of the American galleries, he was
more than willing to be represented in the American section. He sent
_L'Andalouse_, the portrait of Mrs. Whibley, _Brown and Gold_, the
full-length of himself, and, at the Committee's request, _The Little
White Girl_, never before seen in Paris. He brought together also a
fine group of etchings, and when he learned that he was awarded a
_Grand Prix_ for painting and another for engraving, he was gratified
and did not hesitate to show it. The years of waiting for the official
compliment did not lessen his pleasure when it came. Rossetti retired
from the battle at an early stage, but Whistler fought to the end
and gloried in his victory. He was dining at Mr. Heinemann's when he
received the news, and they drank his health and crowned him with
flowers, and he enjoyed it as fully as the _fêtes_ of his early Paris
days. J. was awarded a gold medal for engraving, and we suggested
that the occasion was one for general celebration, which was complete
when Timothy Cole, another gold medallist, appeared unexpectedly as
we were sitting down to dinner. Mr. Kennedy was one of the party,
and Miss Birnie Philip came with Whistler, and the little dinner was
the ceremony he knew how to make of reunions of the kind. He was
pleased when he heard that his medals were voted unanimously and read
out the first with applause. A story in connection with the awards,
told over our table some months later by John Lambert returning from
Paris, amused him vastly. Though it was agreed that the first medals
should not be announced until all the others were awarded, the news
leaked out and got into the papers. At the next meeting of the jury,
Carolus-Duran, always gorgeous, was more resplendent than ever in a
flowered waistcoat. He took the chair, and at once, with his eye on
the American jurors, said that there had been indiscretion. Alexander
Harrison was up like a shot: "_A propos des indiscrétions, messieurs,
regardez le gilet de Carolus!_"

During this time Whistler was paying not only for his rooms at the
Hôtel Chatham in Paris, but for one at Garlant's Hotel, in addition
to the apartment in the Rue du Bac where Miss Birnie Philip and her
mother lived the greater part of the year, for the studios in the Rue
Notre-Dame-des-Champs and Fitzroy Street, and lastly, for the "Company
of the Butterfly" in Hinde Street. It was no light burden, though he
had a light way of referring to his "collection of _châteaux_ and
_pieds-à-terre_." His pockets were as full as he had wanted them, but
he could not get used to their not being empty. Once, afraid he could
not meet one of his many bills for rent, he asked a friend to verify
his bank account, with the result that six thousand pounds were found
to be lying idle.

Whistler, as a "West Point man," followed the Boer War with the same
interest he had shown in the Spanish War. It was a "beautiful war"
on the part of the Boers, for whom he had unbounded admiration. From
Paris, through the winter, he sent us, week by week, Caran d'Ache's
cartoons in the _Figaro_. In London he cut from the papers despatches
and leaders that reported the bravery of the Boers and the blunders of
the British, and carried them with him wherever he went. His comments
did not amuse the "Islanders," whom, however, he knew how to soothe
after exasperating them almost beyond endurance. One evening J. walked
back with him to Garlant's, and they were having their whisky-and-soda
in the landlady's room while Whistler gave his version of the news of
the day, which he thought particularly psychological. Then suddenly,
when it seemed as if the landlady could not stand it an instant longer,
he turned and said in his most charming manner, "Well, you know, you
would have made a very good Boer yourself, madam." As he said it, it
became the most amiable of compliments, and the evening was finished
over a dish of choice peaches which she hoped would please him. Another
evening, the Boers were on the point of kindling a fatal war between
himself and a good friend, when a bang of his fist on the table
brought down a picture from the wall of our dining-room, and in the
crash of glass the Boers were forgotten. No one who met him during the
years of the war can dissociate him from this talk, and not to refer
to it would be to give a poor idea of him. If he had a sympathetic
audience, he went over and over the incidents of the struggle; the
wonder of the despatches; Lord Roberts' explanation that all would have
gone well with the Suffolks on a certain occasion if they had not had a
panic. Mrs. Kruger receiving the British Army while the Boers retired,
supplied with all they wanted, though they went on capturing the
British soldiers wholesale; General Buller's announcement that he had
made the enemy respect his rear. When he was told of despatches stating
that Buller, on one occasion, had retired without losing a man, or a
flag, or a cannon, he added, "Yes, or a minute." He repeated the answer
of a man at a lecture, who, when the lecturer declared that the cream
of the British Army had gone to South Africa, called out, "Whipped
cream." The blunderings and the surrenderings gave Whistler malicious
joy, and he declared that as soon as the British soldier found he
was no longer in a majority of ten to one, he threw up the sponge or
dropped the gun. He recalled Bismarck's saying that South Africa would
prove the grave of the British Empire, and also that the day would come
when the blundering of the British Army would surprise the world, and
he quoted "a sort of professional prophet" who predicted a July that
would bring destruction to the British: "What has July 1900 in store
for the Island?" he would ask.

There was no question of his interest in the Boers, but neither could
there be that this interest was coloured by prejudice. He never forgot
his "years of battle" in England, when, alone, he met the blunderings,
mistakes, and misunderstandings of the army of artists, critics, and
the public. In his old age, as in his youth, he loved London for its
beauty. His friends were there, nowhere else was life so congenial,
and not even Paris could keep him long from London. But it was his
boast that he was an American citizen, that on his father's side he was
Irish, a Highlander on his mother's, and that there was not a drop of
Anglo-Saxon blood in his veins. He had no affection for the people who
persisted in their abuse and ridicule until, confronted by the Goupil
Exhibition of 1892, they were compelled--however grudgingly--to give
him his due. This was one reason why he expressed the wish that none
of his pictures should form part of an English national collection,
or remain in England, and emphasised the fact that his sitters at the
end were American or Scotch. He conquered, but the conquest did not
make him accept the old enemies as new friends. In the position of the
Boers he no doubt fancied a parallel with his own when, alone, they
defied the English, who, on the battlefield as in the appreciation
of art, blundered and misunderstood. Whistler's ingenuity in seeing
only what he wanted to see and in making that conform to his theories
was extraordinary. He could not be beaten because, for him, right on
the other side did not exist. He came nearest to it one evening when
discussing the war, not with an Englishman, but with an American and
an officer into the bargain, whom he met in our rooms, and who said
that there was always blundering at the opening of a campaign, as at
Santiago, where two divisions of the United States Army were drawn up
so that, if they had fired, they must have shot each other down. It
was a shock, but Whistler rallied, offered no comment, and was careful
afterwards to avoid such dangerous ground.

Prejudice coloured all his talk of the English, whose characteristics
to him were as humorous as his were incomprehensible to them. It
was astonishing to hear him seize upon a weak point, play with it,
elaborate it fantastically, and then make it tell. The "enemies"
suffered from his wit as he from their density. His artistic sense
served him in satire as in everything else. One favourite subject was
the much-vaunted English cleanliness. He evolved an elaborate theory:

"Paris is full of baths and always has been; you can see them,
beautiful Louis XV. and Louis XVI. baths on the Seine; in London,
until a few years ago, there were none except in Argyll Street, to
which Britons came with a furtive air, afraid of being caught. And the
French, having the habit of the bath, think and say nothing of it,
while the British--well, they're so astonished now they have learned to
bathe, they can't talk of anything but their tub."

The Bath Club he described as "the latest incarnation of the British
discovery of water." His ingenious answer was ready when British virtue
was extolled. He repeated to us a conversation at this time with Madame
Sarah Grand. She said it was delightful to be back in England after
five or six weeks in France, where she had not seen any men, except
two, and they were Germans, whom she could have embraced in welcome. A
Frenchman never would forget that women are women. She liked to meet
men as comrades, without thought of sex. Whistler told her: "You are to
be congratulated, madam--certainly, the Englishwoman succeeds, as no
other could, in obliging men to forget her sex."

A few days after, he reported another "happy" answer. He was with three
Englishmen and a German. One of the Englishmen said, "The trouble
is, we English are too honest; we have always been stupidly honest."
Whistler turned to the German: "You see, it is now historically
acknowledged that whenever there has been honesty in this country,
there has been stupidity."

His ingenuity increased with the consternation it caused, and the
"Islander" figured more and more in his talk.

The excitement in China this summer interested him little less than
affairs in South Africa. He was indignant, not with the Chinese for
the alleged massacres at Pekin, but with Americans and Europeans for
considering the massacres an outrage that called for redress. After
all, the Chinese had their way of doing things, and it was better to
lose whole armies of Europeans than to harm the smallest of beautiful
things in that great wonderful country. He said to us one day:

"Here are these people thousands of years older in civilisation than
us, with a religion thousands of years older than ours, and our
missionaries go out there and tell them who God is. It is simply
preposterous, you know, that for what Europe and America consider a
question of honour one blue pot should be risked."

Another evening when he said this to a larger audience, one of the
party asked him if art did not always mark the decadence of a country.
"Well, you know," said Whistler, "a good many countries manage to go to
the dogs without it."

The month of July in London was unusually hot, and for the first
time we heard Whistler complain of the heat, in which, as a rule, he
revelled, though he dressed for it at dinner in white duck trousers
and waistcoat with his dinner-jacket, and in the street exchanged his
silk hat for a wide-brimmed soft grey felt, or a "dandy" straw. He was
restless, anxious to stay in his studio, but, for the sake of Miss
Birnie Philip and her mother, anxious to go to the country or by the
sea. Looking from our windows, he would say that, with the river there
and the Embankment Gardens gay with music and people, we were in no
need to leave town, and we were sure he envied us. One day he went to
Amersham, near London, with the idea of staying there and painting two
landscapes somebody wanted. Mr. Wimbush took him.

"You know, really, I can't say that, towards twilight, it is not pretty
in a curious way, but not really pretty after all--it's all country,
and the country is detestable."

Eventually he took a house at Sutton, near Dublin, persuaded Mrs. and
Miss Birnie Philip to go there, and then promptly left with Mr. Elwell
for Holland. He told Mr. Sidney Starr once that only one landscape
interested him, the landscape of London. But he made an exception of
Holland. When he was reminded that there is no country there, he said
to us:

"That's just why I like it--no great, full-blown, shapeless trees as
in England, but everything neat and trim, and the trunks of the trees
painted white, and the cows wear quilts, and it is all arranged and
charming. And look at the skies! They talk about the blue skies of
Italy; the skies of Italy are not blue, they are black. You do not
see blue skies except in Holland and here, where you get great white
clouds, and then the spaces between are blue! And in Holland there is
atmosphere, and that means mystery. There is mystery here, too, and the
people don't want it. What they like is when the east wind blows, when
you can look across the river and count the wires in the canary bird's
cage on the other side."

He stayed a week at Domburg, a small seashore village near Middelburg.
With its little red roofs nestling among the sand-dunes and its wide
beach under the skies he loved, he thought it enchanting, and made a
few water-colours which he showed us afterwards in the studio. The
place, he said, was not yet exploited, and at Madame Elout's he found
good wine and a Dordrecht banker who talked of the Boers and assured
him they were all right, the Dutch would see to that. A visit to
Ireland followed. He went full of expectations, for as the descendant
of the Irish Whistlers he called himself an Irishman. We have a note
of his stay there from the late Sir William Armstrong, Director of the
National Gallery of Ireland: "He took a house, 'Craigie' the name
of it, at Sutton, six miles from Dublin, on the spit of sand which
connects the Hill of Howth with the mainland (as the Neutral Ground
unites 'Gib.' with Spain) on the north side of Dublin Bay. There he
excited the curiosity of the natives by at once papering up the windows
on the north side of the house, for half their height, with brown
paper. He came to dinner with me one night, stipulating that he should
be allowed to depart at 9.30, as he was such an early goer to bed. We
dined accordingly at 7, and his Jehu, with the only closed fly the
northern half of County Dublin could supply, was punctually at the door
at the hour named. There he had to wait for three hours, for it was
not until 12.30 that the delightful flow of Whistler's eloquence came
to an end, and that he extracted himself from the deep arm-chair which
had been his pulpit for four hours and a half. His talk had been great,
and we had confined ourselves to little exclamatory appreciations and
gazes of rapt adoration! I spent an hour or two with him in the Irish
National Gallery. I found him there lying on the handrail before a
sketch of Hogarth (George II. and his family) and declaring it was
the most beautiful picture in the world. The only other remark on any
particular picture which I can now recall is his saying of my own
portrait by Walter Osborne, 'It has a _skin_, it has a _skin_!' He
soon grew tired of Sutton and Ireland, and when I called at Craigie a
few days after the dinner he had flown. He did not forget to send a
graceful word to my wife, signed with his name and Butterfly."

He did little work during his visit. The house was on the wrong side of
the bay, the weather was wretched, but Chester, on the way home, was
"charming and full of possibilities."

In September the frequent meetings were continued. The talk drifting
here and there, touched upon many subjects belonging to no particular
period, but characteristic of his moods and memories. Thus, one
evening, when Mr. W. B. Blaikie was with us and the talk turned to
Scotland, Whistler told stories of Carlyle. Allingham, he said, was
for a time by way of being Carlyle's Boswell and was always at his
heels. They were walking in the Embankment Gardens at Chelsea, when
Carlyle stopped suddenly: "Have a care, mon, have a care, for ye have
a tur-r-ruble faculty for developing into a bore!" Carlyle had been
reading about Michael Angelo with some idea of writing his life or
an essay, but it was Michael Angelo, the engineer, who interested
him. Another day, walking with Allingham, they passed South Kensington
Museum. "You had better go in," Allingham said. "Why, mon, only fools
go in there." Allingham explained that he would find sculpture by
Michael Angelo, and he should know something of the artist's work
before writing his life. "No," said Carlyle, "we need only glance at
that."

Whistler's talk of Howell and Tudor House overflowed with anecdotes of
the adventurer, for whom he retained a tender regret, and the group
gathered about Rossetti. He accounted for Howell's downfall by a last
stroke of inventiveness when he procured rare, priceless black pots for
a patron who later discovered rows of the same pots in an Oxford Street
shop. Whistler had a special liking for the story of Rossetti dining at
Lindsey Row, at the height of the blue and white craze, and becoming so
excited when his fish was served on a plate he had never seen before
that he forgot the fish and turned it over, fish and all, to look at
the mark on the back. Another memory was of a dinner at Mr. Ionides',
with Rossetti a pagan, Sir Richard Burton a Mohammedan, Lady Burton a
Catholic. They fell into a hot argument over religion, but Whistler
said nothing. Lady Burton, who was in a state of exaltation, could not
stand his silence: "And what are you, Mr. Whistler?" "I, madam," he
answered, "why, I am an amateur!" He spent many evenings drawing upon
his memory of the "droll" and "joyous" things of the past. But the past
brought him back with redoubled interest to the present, in which so
much waited to be done.

In October we began to notice a change, and we knew that when he
worried there was cause. He was called to Paris once or twice about
the school and his "_châteaux_ and _pieds-à-terre_." After one of
these journeys he was laid up with a severe cold at Mr. Heinemann's.
In November he was in bed for many days at Garlant's. He had other
worries. British critics conspired either to ignore his success at
the Paris Exhibition, or account for it sneeringly or lyingly. He was
irritated when he read an article on the Exhibition, signed D. S. M.,
in the _Saturday Review_ devoted altogether, he told us, to Manet and
Fantin, with only a passing reference to himself:

"Manet did very good work, of course, but then Manet was always
_l'écolier_--the student with a certain sense of things in paint, and
that is all!--he never understood that art is a positive science, one
step in it leading to another. He painted, you know, in _la manière
noire_, the dark pictures that look very well when you come to them at
Durand-Ruel's, after wandering through rooms of screaming blues and
violets and greens, but he was so little in earnest that midway in
his career he took to the blues and violets and greens himself. You
know, it is the trouble with so many; they paint in one way--brilliant
colour, say--they see something, like Ribot, and, dear me, they think,
we had better try to do this too, and they do and, well, really, you
know, in the end they do nothing for themselves!"

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF MRS. WALTER SICKERT

In the possession of Mrs. Cobden-Sanderson]

[Illustration: PORTRAIT OF MISS WOAKES

In the possession of Messrs. Knvedler & Co.

(_See page 360_)]

He was furious with the critic who stated that
his medal was awarded for _The Little White Girl_. The statement was
offensive because, he said, "the critics are always passing over recent
work for early masterpieces, though all are masterpieces; there is
no better, no worse; the work has always gone on, it has grown, not
changed, and the pictures I am painting now are full of qualities they
cannot understand to-day any better than they understood _The Little
White Girl_ at the time it was painted."

This was an argument he often used. A few evenings after, he told a
man, who suggested that Millet's later work was not so good because he
was married and had to make both ends meet, "You're wrong. An artist's
work is never better, never worse; it must be always good, in the end
as in the beginning, if he is an artist, if it is in him to do anything
at all. He would not be influenced by the chance of a wife or anything
of that kind. He is always the artist."

He was annoyed because critics could not see a truth which to him was
simple and obvious. His annoyance culminated when the _Magazine of Art_
not only said the _Grand Prix_ was awarded for _The Little White Girl_,
but protested against the award, because the picture was painted before
the ten years' limit imposed by the French authorities, a protest
printed in other papers. Whistler could not bear this in silence,
for it looked like an effort to deprive him of his first high award
from a Paris Exhibition. The attack was disgraceful. Whistler's two
other pictures were his most recent, and, as we have said, _The Little
White Girl_ was specially invited. As soon as he was well enough, he
came to us several times, with Mr. William Webb, his solicitor, to
talk the affair over. As a result, an apology was demanded, and made.
This belittling of certain pictures in favour of others, with its
inevitable inference, offended him, in the end as in the beginning. Mr.
Sargent writes us an instance of his manner of carrying off the offence
before the world. Somebody brought him a commission for a painting,
stipulating that it should be "a serious work." Whistler's answer was
that he "could not break with the traditions of a lifetime."

Another worry he should have been spared was a dispute with one of
the tenants at the Rue du Bac, a trivial matter which, in his nervous
state, loomed large and made him unnecessarily miserable. The carpets
of the lady on the floor above him were shaken out of her windows into
his garden, and it could not be stopped. He tried the law, but was told
he must have disinterested witnesses outside the family. If he engaged
a detective, a month might pass before she would do it again. But it
chanced that, while beating a carpet, it fell into his garden, and his
servants refused to give it up. The lady went to law and his lawyer
advised him to return the carpet. It depressed him hopelessly, and as
he had long ceased to live in the Rue du Bac, we could not understand
why he should have heard of so petty a domestic squabble.

Ill and worried as he was, our work at intervals came to a standstill.
When he felt better and stronger the talks went on, but at moments he
seemed almost to fear that the book would prove an obituary. Once he
said to us that we "wanted to make an Old Master of me before my time,"
and we had too much respect and affection for him to add to his worries
by our importunity. With the late autumn his weakness developed into
serious illness. By the middle of November he was extremely anxious
about himself, for his cough would not go. The doctor's diagnosis, he
said, was "lowered in tone: probably the result of living in the midst
of English pictures." A sea journey was advised, and Tangier suggested
for the winter. When he was with us he could not conceal his anxiety.
If he sneezed, he hurried away. He fell asleep before dinner was over;
sometimes he could hardly keep awake through the evening. Once or twice
he seemed to be more than asleep, when there was nothing to do but to
rouse him, which was not easy, and we were extremely frightened until
we could, and, indeed, until J. got him back to Garlant's. He would
never trust himself to the night air until Augustine had mixed him a
hot "grog." Tangier did not appeal to him, and he asked J. to go with
him to Gibraltar, stay a while at Malaga, and then come back by Madrid
to see at last the pictures he had always wanted to see. He was hurt
when J.'s work made it impossible for him to leave London.

In December Whistler gave up the struggle to brave the London winter,
and decided to sail for Gibraltar, on the way to Tangier and Algiers,
with Mr. Birnie Philip, his brother-in-law, to take care of him. Sir
Thomas Sutherland, Chairman of the P. & O. Company, arranged for every
comfort on the voyage. But, as usual, there were complications at the
last moment--as usual, the fearful trouble of getting off from his
studio. Everybody was pressed into his service and kept busy, all the
waiters in the hotel were in attendance. The day before he was to start
he discovered that his etching plates needed to be regrounded and he
sent them to J., who agreed to do what he could at such short notice,
but warned him that there was not time to ground the plates properly
and that very likely they would be spoiled. Whistler sent for them in
the evening and, instead of leaving them out to dry until the morning,
wrapped them up and packed them among the linen in his trunk. It was
extraordinary that a man so careful about his work should always have
wanted somebody else to ground his plates or prepare his canvases, or
do something as important, that he should have done for himself, and
that oftener than not he should have wanted it, as on this occasion, at
the last moment. However, with the help of his friends and the waiters
and his family, he was got ready in time, and on December 14 he started
for the South.



CHAPTER XLVI: IN SEARCH OF HEALTH. THE YEARS NINETEEN HUNDRED AND ONE
AND NINETEEN HUNDRED AND TWO.


As soon as Whistler got away from London he was unhappy. At Tangier
the wind was icy, at Algiers it rained, and everywhere when it was
clear the sky was "hard" and the sea was "black." Snow was falling at
Marseilles, and he was kept in his room for a couple of weeks, so ill
he had to send for a doctor, and he was only comforted when he found
the doctor delightful. Corsica was recommended and, as "Napoleon's
Island," attracted Whistler. When he was well enough Mr. Birnie Philip
left him, and he sailed alone for Ajaccio. Here he stayed at the Hôtel
Schweizerhof. The weather at first was abominable, so cold and the
wind so treacherous that he could not work out of doors, and he felt
his loneliness acutely. Fortunately he made a friend of the Curator
of the Museum, and Mr. Heinemann joined him for a time. They loitered
about together in the quaint little town, went to see the house where
Napoleon was born--"a great experience"--spent many rainy hours in the
_café_ where Mr. Heinemann taught him to play dominoes, a resource not
only then but the rest of his life. They played for the price of their
coffee, and Whistler cheated with a brilliancy that made him easily a
winner, but that horrified a German who sometimes took a hand, though
the _naïveté_ of Whistler's "system" could not have deceived a child.

He was by no means idle, and he brought back a series of exquisite pen
and pencil drawings begun at Tangier. A few water-colours were made,
and when the weather gave him a chance he worked on his copper-plates.
He bit one or two that J. had grounded in London, and the ground came
off. He did not know how, or did not have the courage to prevent it.
We can only wonder again that a man who made such wonderful plates did
not know what to do, or did not dare do it, in difficulties of this
sort, preferring to rely upon somebody else. He had drawn on some of
the other plates before he began to bite any of them, and he may have
done more than have as yet been seen. In Mr. Howard Mansfield's and
the Grolier catalogues only one plate in Corsica is recorded, in both
called _The Bohemians_. But as J. grounded ten or a dozen for Whistler,
and as he spoke to us of more than once bitten, it is probable that the
plates exist. "All my dainty work lost," he wrote to us from Corsica,
and it looked as if the shadow had fallen upon our friendship. But he
understood, and the shadow passed as quickly as it came. There were
other schemes. One day, after his return, he told Mr. Clifford Addams
that he had seen a great black-bearded shepherd, on a horse, carrying a
long pole, coming down a hill-side, of whom he wanted to make a large
equestrian portrait. But he never started it. He felt he was not able.

The closing of the school in Paris occupied and worried him, and he
was arranging for a show of pastels and prints at the Luxembourg. One
pleasure, of which he wrote to us, came from "new honours" in Dresden,
where he was awarded a gold medal and elected "unanimously to the
_Académie Royale des Beaux-Arts_." He was more tired than he admitted
in his letters, dwelling little on his fatigue, and insisting that the
doctor in Marseilles found nothing was the matter with him. But he was
never strong after the autumn of 1900, and earlier than this the doctor
in London warned his friends that he was failing.

He was more hopeful because at Ajaccio he said he had discovered what
was the matter with him:

"At first, though I got through little, I never went out without a
sketch-book or an etching-plate. I was always meaning to work, always
thinking I must. Then the Curator offered me the use of his studio.
The first day I was there he watched me, but said nothing until the
afternoon. Then--'But, Mr. Whistler, I have looked at you, I have been
watching. You are all nerves, you do nothing. You try to, but you
cannot settle down to it. What you need is rest--to do nothing--not to
try to do anything.' And all of a sudden, you know, it struck me that
I had never rested, that I never had done nothing, that it was the one
thing I needed. And I put myself down to doing nothing--amazing, you
know. No more sketch-books, no more plates. I just sat in the sun and
slept. I was cured. You know, Joseph must sit in the sun and sleep.
Write and tell him so."

He was sufficiently recovered to take his old joy in the "Islanders,"
into the midst of whom he fell on the P. & O. steamer coming back from
Marseilles:

"Nobody but English on board, and, after months of not seeing them,
really they were amazing: there they all were at dinner, you know--the
women in low gowns, the men in dinner jackets. They might look a trifle
green, they might suddenly run when the ship rolled--but what matter?
There they were--men in dinner jackets, stewards behind their chairs in
dinner jackets--and so all's right with the country! And, do you know,
it made the whole business clear to me down there in South Africa. At
home every Englishman does his duty--appears in his dinner jacket at
the dinner hour--and so, what difference what the Boers are doing? All
is well with England! You know, you might just as well dress to ride in
an omnibus!"

Whistler returned from Corsica at the beginning of May in excellent
spirits. He came to us on the day of his arrival. We give one small
incident that followed because it shows the simplicity he was careful
to conceal from the world he liked to mystify. J. was in Italy and
E., that afternoon, on her way back from the Continent. At our door
he met our French maid, Augustine, starting for Charing Cross, and he
walked with her to the station, where she was to meet E., while she
gave him the news. Her account was that everybody stared, which was not
surprising. He, always a conspicuous figure, was the more so in his
long brown overcoat and round felt hat, _en voyage_, while she wore
a big white apron and was _en cheveux_. Moreover, their conversation
was animated. She invited him to dinner, promising him dishes which
she knew would tempt him, and he accepted. He appeared a little before
eight. "Positively shocking and no possible excuse for it," he said,
"but, well, here I am!"

Work was taken up in the studio, our talks were resumed, his interest
in the Boer War grew, the heat he had not found in the South was
supplied by London in June and July, and from the heat he gained
strength. He came and went, as of old, between Garlant's Hotel and
Buckingham Street, until he declared that the cabbies in the Strand
knew him as well as the cabbies in Chelsea. It had ever been his boast
that he was known to almost every cabman in London, as, indeed, he was.
The tales of his encounters with them were numerous, for, if lavish in
big things, he could sometimes be "narrow" in small, and his drives
occasionally ended in differences. The only time we knew the cabby
to score was one day this year, when J. was walking from the studio
with him. "Kibby, kibby," Whistler cried to a passing cab, not seeing
the "fare" inside. The cabman drew up, looked down at him, looked him
over, and said, "Where did yer buy yer 'at? Go, get yer 'air cut!" and
drove off at a gallop. Whistler, safe inside an omnibus, laughed at the
adventure.

But the summer was full of adventures. Another afternoon he and J.
were walking in the Strand when a well-known English artist stopped
him with, "Why, my dear old Jimmie, how are you? I haven't seen you
or spoken to you for twenty years!" Whistler turned slowly to J. and
said, "Joseph, do you know this person?" And the person fled. "H'm,"
said Whistler,