The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Louisa Holloway Traer, ca 1839-??

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1839 ca
Place of Birth: London
Date of Death:
Place of Death:


Louisa Jane Holloway Traer, née Savage, married James Reeves Traer, a surgeon, medical partner and assistant to JW's brother-in-law Francis Seymour Haden, in 1856. She was underage at marriage. Her father Dr William Savage was one of the witnesses at the marriage at the Parish church Hampstead. They had two children, May (b. 12 November 1858) and one other.


Louisa Traer's husband was particularly interested in optics. His portrait appears in JW's etching The Music-Room (K.33) in 1858. In 1859/60 JW also drew a picture of May Traer, Miss May Traer (M.297).

In April 1867, JW quarrelled with Haden over the treatment of James Traer. J. Traer died suddenly on 23 April of alcohol related causes, whilst attending a medical conference with Haden in Paris. JW and his brother William were also in Paris, as JW's works were on view in the American section of the Paris Exposition. Haden arranged for Traer's burial in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris, with minimal cost and what JW and his brother William regarded as unseemly haste, without an autopsy or funeral, and without telling his family, namely his sister Ellen Traer. However, Deborah Delano Haden suggests that her husband did inform Louisa Traer who could not afford large funeral expenses [#01914]. In the resulting confrontation, Haden alleged that JW had pushed him through a plate glass window. Later, JW, his brother and other friends of J. Traer's arranged for his body to be exhumed and returned to his family in England for reburial. Louisa Traer appears to have distance herself from the proceedings, creating a family rift [#05850, #05852]. At J. Traer's death, Haden apparently owed the Traer family £1000. Ellen Traer suggested that Haden's medical account books should be inspected [#05849].


Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; Dorment, Richard, and Margaret F. MacDonald, James McNeill Whistler, London, 1994; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.