Henry James - Letter to Isabella Stewart Gardner from Siena, 26 June 1892

Henry James (New York, 1843 - 1916, London)

Letter to Isabella Stewart Gardner from the Hotel di Siena, Siena, 26 June 1892

Ink on paper, 17.3 x 22.4 cm (6 13/16 x 8 13/16 in.)


Object details

Accession number


Object Case

Crawford / Chapman Case



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The black borders of this letter carry a special meaning: Henry James was in mourning for the death of his beloved sister, Alice, who passed away on 6 March 1892. Yet his words to Isabella Stewart Gardner are lighthearted and convivial, sharing the details of his busy social life among mutual friends in Siena: “I came to Italy to hide—but I don’t succeed. Is it, by chance, my glory? . . . At all events it is my curse, & I am bowed down under it.” His ironic tone only partially conceals his pleasure, and he confesses to Gardner that the “spell of Siena is upon me—it suits me to perfection.”