1890 · New York [i.e., Antwerp]
First edition: Collected exchanges of letters in which the artist harangues his critics, including arch-nemesis John Ruskin, Oscar Wilde, Tom Taylor, Harry Quilter, Theodore Child, and many others. Whistler's sarcasm and venom know no bounds, nor does his commitment to defending his aesthetic philosophy.
This pirated edition, quickly suppressed by Whistler, was produced immediately after the artist first gave and then withdrew publishing permission from the American journalist Sheridan Ford. It thus preceded the author's printing, and differs notably from the later, officially published text, providing => more Wilde correspondence as well as record of the final bitter spat between Ford and Whistler — and it gives only Ford's name on the cover, spine, and title-page, with no mention of Whistler himself until he appears in the preliminary note.
While Ford used the Stokes name on this Antwerp printing (and again later in the same year on a Parisian printing to which he resorted after Whistler's representatives successfully halted the Belgian production and confiscated most of the existing copies), Stokes denied having been involved in any way.
Provenance: Inked inscription of noted educator and book collector Jahu Dewitt Miller on final blank page.
For the story of Ford's pirated edition, see: E.R. & J. Pennell's Life of Whistler, 1908, V. II chap. 34, pp. 100–13. Publisher's heavy gray paper wrappers, front wrapper with title stamped in red; spine creased and sunned, corners rubbed, rear wrapper very unobtrusively reinforced. Now housed in a violet cloth–covered chemise and a quarter deep purple morocco and violet cloth–covered slip case, with outer box edge and case spine and front cover sunned, case showing light shelfwear overall. Front two fly-leaves with short tear from upper margin; a very few instances of light spotting, generally not occurring within text. With laid-in auction catalogue information regarding publication and textual details; final blank page with inked inscription as above. Now very uncommon. (Inventory #: 36545)