The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Alexander Reid, 1854-1928

Nationality: Scottish
Date of Birth: 1854
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1928
Place of Death:


Alexander Reid was a Glasgow art dealer. He married Harriet Elizabeth Adriana Stevenson on 23 March 1892. Their son Alexander James McNeill Reid, named in honour of Whistler, also became a dealer.


Reid, who was initially apprenticed to the carving and gilding business for which his father worked, opened his first gallery in Glasgow in 1877, showing the work of the Glasgow Boys and the Barbizon and Hague Schools. In 1887 he worked with Boussod, Valadon et Cie in Paris, and was there introduced to the art of JW and the Impressionists. Vincent van Gogh painted two portraits of him in this year (Alexander Reid, 1887, Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums). In 1889 he set up La Société des Beaux-Arts at 227 West George Street in Glasgow, where he exhibited works by the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, the Glasgow Boys, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, JW and Japanese prints. He played a leading role in introducing Scottish collectors to avant-garde art.

A significant number of JW's paintings passed through Reid's hands between 1892 and 1919, including At the Piano (YMSM 24), The Thames in Ice (YMSM 36), La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (YMSM 50), Study for the Head of Miss Cicely H. Alexander (YMSM 128), Nocturne: Trafalgar Square - Snow (YMSM 173), Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181), Arrangement in Black: La Dame au brodequin jaune - Portrait of Lady Archibald Campbell (YMSM 242), Note in Red: The Siesta (YMSM 254), The Girl in Red (YMSM 312), Chelsea Shop (YMSM 374), Street in Brittany (YMSM 415), The Daughter of the Concierge (YMSM 436), Alice Butt (2) (YMSM 438) and The Little Nurse (YMSM 443). Some of these he exhibited, for example, he showed La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (YMSM 50) at the second exhibition of the Society of Portrait Painters at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours in 1892, at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893 and at the 63rd annual exhibition of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia in 1893-4.

Bibliography: (accessed 2004.9); Pickvance, R., A Man of Influence: Alex Reid, 1854-1928, Edinburgh, 1968; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; Willsdon, Clare A. P., 'Alex Reid', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 15 January 2003).