Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler

Based on records of over 13,000 letters, including copies surviving in public and private collections around the world, the online edition makes available around 10,000 letters sent to and from Whistler during the period from 1855 to 1903.

A list of correspondence between Whislter and Stéphane Mallarmé.
A list of correspondence between Whislter and Stéphane Mallarmé.

In 1855, at the age of 21, Whistler left America to become an art student in Paris, and his correspondence continues until his death in 1903. Based on records of over 13,000 letters, including copies, surviving in public and private collections around the world, the on-line centenary edition makes available a total of some 10,000 letters covering this period. The edition includes all the letters written by Whistler and all the letters written to him; letters mentioning Whistler are also included on a selective basis.

The transcriptions reproduce the text as written, including punctuation, capitalisation and errors of spelling, grammar and foreign accents; deletions and insertions are also marked. Occasional use has been made of '[sic]' to confirm that the text is indeed as written. Editorial insertions are marked by square brackets, including reference to drawings and Whistler's butterfly signature. Printed text, such as a printed or embossed letterhead, is given in capitals; line breaks in printed text are marked with a forward slash.

Following the five-figure reference number, the heading for each letter gives:

  • the date,
  • the author,
  • the recipient,
  • the location of the letter, and
  • the nature and authority of the text being used (for abbreviations see below).

Most letters for 1855-1903 are now available with full annotation. Since the search facilities allow any combination of letters to be selected, the annotation provided is meant to allow each letter to be read independently. This means there is some repetition of information within groups of connected letters. Editorial work on the whole edition is continuing and annotations may be updated from time to time.

Currently available search options include the following: People; Date; Subjects; Works of Art; Exhibitions; Institutions; Places and Free text. A search using any of these categories will provide a list of letters in chronological order.

Project website: https://www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk/