UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Arthur Lasenby Liberty, 1843-1917

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1843.04.13
Place of Birth: Chesham, Buckinghamshire
Date of Death: 1917.12.11
Place of Death: Lee Manor, Buckinghamshire

Identity:

Sir Arthur Lasenby Liberty was an English merchant.

Life:

In 1862 Liberty joined Farmer & Rogers' Oriental Warehouse in Regent Street, London. However, on 15 May 1875 he set up his own store dealing in goods from Japan and the Far East, East India House, at 218A Regent Street, London. In 1884 he opened a dress department which was managed by E. W. Godwin, who was at the centre of the dress reform movement. Following his success in England, Liberty established a shop in Paris in 1890. In 1894 Liberty's became a public company.

Liberty was knighted in 1913 and in 1914 he retired.

Whistler, who in the early 1860s began collecting blue and white china and Japanese prints, was a regular costumer at Farmer & Rogers' Oriental Warehouse. He also bought fabric for the dresses of his models there, see Design for a dress for Miss Cicely H. Alexander (M.503). At his bankruptcy in 1879 he owed the company £34.13.0. He was introduced to Liberty personally through Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who like Whistler was obsessed with the collection of oriental paraphernalia. Liberty and Whistler became good friends.

Bibliography:

Laver, J., The Liberty Story, London, 1959; Adburgham, A., Liberty's: A Biography of a Shop, London, 1975; Mawer, John, 'Sir Arthur Lasenby Liberty', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 17 April 2002).