Commentary

Disciples


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Wednesday, May 6, 1891

     5:50 P.M. W. on his bed, but arose on my entrance, going heedfully to his chair. Warren had told me W. was up all day, and W. now repeated the information. Again said as he had last night, "The New England Magazine folk are a queer set. In the portrait I am titivated out of all my good looks!" Gave me a copy of Black and White (England)— "They can't touch our illustrators—can't reach the edge of 'em, though they cultivate and cultivate and try to refine. Take that as a sample—it is far below our standard." Also said I should take copy of the Pall Mall Budget containing Whistler's portrait of Carlyle—again commenting upon its "simple strength and beauty." Said in regard to his health, "I am spending bad days—wretched days—with poor hope of anything better." He'd a letter from Bucke, which he gave me, and returned me yesterday's proofs—having added McKay's name to the title-page. Had he talked with Dave? "Not definitively—but enough to know he is willing to handle the book. I think I may risk that." I urged that he read plate proofs at once. He assented, "Yes, and do you, too—and between you, the proof-reader and me, no great blunders ought to get through." And further, "I am willing to push the book right through now: I give it over to your hands."


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     I had Harper's Weekly with me—left it, at his request, till tomorrow. He regarded therein a portrait of Phillip Brooks. "It seems all drawn in big masterful circles," he said. "It minds me of something once said to me by Daniel Huntington, of the Academy in New York. He had gone to some great French artist with questions about art—what to do, how to start, something of that sort. And his first instructions had been—go to the paper there, that sheet on the wall—make circles, curved lines, curved lines, circles. Is that all? Yes, yes. And for how long? All day! All day! And this picture carries me back to that story: it is full to fullness of just such circles—sweeping, effective—the result superb. Oh yes! I knew—know—Huntington. He was and is just the opposite of Sir Frederick Leighton, of the British Academy—who is elegant, accurate, technical—not without talent—but with power, none. And for titivation Huntington is just like him. It is hard for the typical artist to be otherwise."


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