Ralph Thomas, Serjeant-at-law and author, was the father of Ralph Thomas, a law partner of Whistler's solicitor, J. A. Rose; Edmund Thomas, a dealer and print publisher at 39 Old Bond Street in London; and Percy Thomas, a painter and etcher.
Ralph Thomas (snr) was the author of a manuscript life of the painter and printmaker John Martin. In 1860 he arranged to buy JW's plates for seven years, have Auguste Delâtre print them, and split the profits between them: his son Ralph Thomas (jnr) believed that nobody printed Whistler's etchings with the same success as Delâtre.
Ralph Thomas (snr) set up his son Edmund as a dealer in Bond Street and planned for Whistler to hold his first one-man exhibition of etchings in this gallery. It was not until 1887 that Edmund held an exhibition of The Works of James Whistler, Etchings and Drypoints in his Bond Street gallery (#00172).
Whistler drew Ralph Thomas (snr) and Ralph Thomas (jnr) in 1861 in the etching The Little Pool (K.74). When the older Ralph Thomas died in the winter of 1861/62, Whistler, who was in Paris at the time, appears to have travelled to London for the funeral (see #06518).
Ralph Thomas, A Catalogue of the Etchings and Dry-points of James Abbott MacNeil [sic] Whistler, London and New York, 1874; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980.