The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Samuel Untermyer, 1858-1940

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1858.06.06
Place of Birth: Lynchburg, VA
Date of Death: 1940.03.16
Place of Death:


Samuel Untermyer was a criminal lawyer, capitalist and philanthropist.


JW sold Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170) to Untermyer in October 1892 for £840 on the advice of the artist Sidney Starr. It was despatched to New York on 6 October 1892. On receipt of the picture, Untermeyer wrote to JW that he and his wife were 'enchanted with the painting which grows on us day by day'. 'I congratulate you upon the marvellous strength & originality of your great genius', he wrote and declared that he felt 'more than fortunate in the possession of a work of art so startling in its beauty & originality' (#05889). JW wrote to Untermyer requesting that he might consider lending it to the forthcoming 1893 Chicago Exhibition: 'If you will consent to do this I shall be greatly gratified, as the work has achieved a certain historical reputation and I should much regret its absence' (#05886). Although Untermyer replied that he would be delighted to show the painting in Chicago, this never happened (#05887). However, from 1900 onwards, when the painting was on display in Philadelphia, the Untermyers regularly lent it to exhibitions in the U.S.


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. American National Biography, New York and Oxford, 1999.