Studio: international art — 30.1904

Seite: 97
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Whistler in Venice


It was my privilege to know Whistler
intimately during the early days of his sojourn
in Venice ; to see him do the first etchings,
the first pastels, and to accompany him in his
wanderings about the fair city, which was then
quite new to him. I had known him previously in
London, though only slightly, but we soon renewed
acquaintance, and struck up a friendship, which, I
am glad to say, was never interrupted. I well
remember meeting him at the inevitable " Florian "
in the autumn of 1879, and for some months—
indeed, until I left for Rome early in the following
year—scarce a day passed that we were not together.
It was soon after his unfortunate experiences at the
White House, and he used to entertain us with
stories of that disastrous time. As a storyteller
he was inimitable. His description of the scene
when the sheiiffs officer called upon him with a
writ, and the last bottle of champagne was brought
out of the cellar for that worthy's delectation,
deserved to be recorded by a far abler pen than mine.

In those early days in Venice even "Jimmy," like

the rest of us, felt the need for some kind of
moderation in the daily expenditure, and we soon
decided to " feed," not even at the cheap little
Trattoria—long since disappeared—opposite the
old post-office, or at the noisier Panada, but in his
modest sitting-room at S. Barnaba. 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. Though a
thorough Bohemian, in the best sense, by convic-
tion as well as instinct, Whistler would seldom or
never, at all events during that period, do any work
on Sunday. His reason did honour to those pro-
founder, stiller depths of his nature, which few
were ever allowed to fathom, and of which many
never suspected the existence.

" I promised my mother that I would not," he
very quietly said to me one day, in answer to a
remark upon the subject. But there was no check
upon the ceaseless flow of his wit and laughter over
the polenta a FAmericaine, which he had induced
the landlady to prepare under his direction, and
which 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-woman could
fry with the best of the famous Ciozzotte. The


(By permission of Madame Blanche Marchesi)
XXX. No. 12S.—November, 1903. 97
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