The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Document associated with: 112th Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, 1880
Record 1 of 1

System Number: 01048
Date: 12 April [1880][1]
Author: Matthew Robinson Elden [2]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [Venice]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler E36
Document Type: ALS[3]

69 Mallinson Road
New Wandsworth

Monday 12 April

My dear Whistler

Just a word about the lost pictures[4] - Waddells[5] it turns out had received them as being valueless & I suppose with the intention of returning them to you - however the enquiries made particularly by Hermon[6] [sic] - brought forth this acknowledgement and at the meeting on Thursday last Way[7] & Leyland[8] - the only Trustees present [-] the canvasses in dispute were unrolled & Leyland on seeing the 3 girls[9] said at once - Oh that is my picture and I shall fight for it - nothing was settled and the meeting adjourned - Way sent for me and his position is that these things must be put up for sale - that whatever dispute [be]tween Leyland & Whistler at the meeting for liquidation - Leyland became an ordinary creditor - and cant take advantage of his position of Trustee [p. 2] to settle trifles to his own advantage[,] the picture too not being the one commissioned by him - so the matter stands for the moment[.] Way hoped that the last meeting would have settled everything but this dispute keeps it open[.] Way is firm in his view of the matter but Leyland is perhaps influential with Waddell & Lewis[10] - however I cant suppose he will get quite his own way in the matter -

Howell[11] I have not seen since this affair - though a week before I found that the damages had not been paid & things generally were in a deplorable condition - I have myself been away & so have seen no one - The weather here is bright for us but cold - I hope it is warmer with you that you may complete your lovely business[12] that your account of puts one in anxious suspense to see

[p. 3] The Academy and Grosvenor [13] I suppose you will see Miss Thompson[14] who paints the Battle of Rorkes drift in the Zulu business - when she saw - so people say the frenchman De Neuville's[15] work exhibited at Huish's[16] of the same subject [she] turned quite sick - & obtained the Queens request of 3 weeks more time sending her frame to the Academy in the interim - Lord Beaconsfield [17] has been punished for refusing immortality at your hands I suppose - quite a revolution having taken place such a radical majority more that [sic] 100 having been returned as will complete Gladstones[18] revenge & turn the Tories out - poor Old Rose[19] whose [sic] always thinking of you has felt it very much - One of the larks is that Labouchere[20] - & Bradlaugh[21] are returned for Northampton -

Labby - You know - [p. 4] Bradlaugh is the author with Mrs Besant[22] of the fruits of Philosophy - and would count the evils of over population with the [spirit?] - Lewis's expenses in your affair are £140 pounds - there will be no dividend - The Jones[23] family all are flattered at being remembered by Whistler in Venice & full of compliments & good wishes - The Mrs Maitland[24] the irish whom you met at Lawlors[25] has made out her title to the New York millions and goes out immediately to take possession - I think I told you that the Countess of Caithness[26] wrote some time since to Lawlor that she regretted not to have seen you in Paris & would be glad to see you at Nice -

sorry to be so short & so stupid

ever yours

M Elden

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  12 April [1880]
12 April was a Monday in 1880, and JW was then in Venice.

2.  Matthew Robinson Elden
Matthew Robinson Elden (1839-1885), artist [more].

3.  ALS
JW's reply to Eldon may be #12816.

4.  lost pictures
W was declared bankrupt on 6 May 1879. He destroyed some pictures so that they should not be sold at auction. However, some destroyed canvases were retained by family and friends. Several letters discuss the dispersal of these works, and sale of others (see #06688).

5.  Waddells
James Waddell (b. 1838), chartered accountant, of J. Waddell and Co. [more]. Messrs Waddell and Co. were appointed receivers for Whistler's estate on 7 May 1879.

6.  Hermon
Louis Herrman (b. 1810 or 1811), of Gilby and Herrman, artists' suppliers, later a picture dealer [more].

7.  Way
Thomas Way (1837-1915), lithographic printer [more].

8.  Leyland
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more].

9.  3 girls
The Three Girls (YMSM 88). JW elaborated on this painting in his letter to Helen Whistler (#06688).

10.  Lewis
Sir George Henry Lewis (1833-1911), society lawyer [more].

11.  Howell
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

12.  lovely business
JW's work in Venice included etchings (K.183-232, 240), pastels (M.725-828) and oils (YMSM 211-222).

13.  Academy and Grosvenor
112nd Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, Royal Academy, London, and IV Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1880.

14.  Miss Thompson
Elizabeth Thompson (1846-1933), later Lady Butler, battle painter, watercolourist and writer [more]. She had shot to fame with her painting Roll Call, which was bought by Queen Victoria in 1874. Her latest composition, The Battle of Rorke's Drift, was based on a heroic stand by a small group of British soldiers against a large Zulu army.

15.  De Neuville's
Alphonse-Marie De Neuville (1835-1885), battle painter and illustrator [more]. He made his debut at the Salon in 1859 with a painting of the Siege of Sebastopol, which gaining a 3rd class medal. In 1880 his painting of the battle of Rorke's Drift was on exhibition at the Fine Art Society in New Bond Street. His battle-paintings were popular in France and he was made Officier de la Légion d'honneur on 14 July 1881.

16.  Huish's
Marcus Bourne Huish (1843 - d.1921), barrister, writer and art dealer, Director of the Fine Art Society [more]. In 1879, the Fine Art Society commissioned JW to produce a set of etchings of Venice.

17.  Lord Beaconsfield
Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1882), Prime Minister of Great Britain [more]. On 29 July 1878, JW had told C. A. Howell his terms for painting a portrait of Disraeli, but the scheme fell through, partly because Disraeli was simply too tired to pose (see #02789). A general election was held at the end of March 1880 and the defeated Disraeli died in the following year. In 1880 he had made Home Rule a big issue, but the economical and agricultural depression, as well as a desire for change seems to have been the main reason for the huge swing.

18.  Gladstones
William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), Liberal MP and Prime Minister [more], had entered Parliament as a Conservative MP in 1832, but by the 1860s was looked on as the leader of the more radical section of the Liberal party. He won a landslide victory over the Tories in 1880. The Conservatives ('Tories') lost 50 urban seats and 27 county seats in England, mainly to the Liberals. They also lost 12 seats in Scotland, leaving them with only seven, and retained only two seats in Wales.

19.  Rose
James Anderson Rose (1819-1890), solicitor [more].

20.  Labouchere
Henry Du Pré Labouchère (1831-1912), journalist and Liberal MP [more].

21.  Bradlaugh
Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891), proprietor of the National Reformer from 1862 [more], was elected MP for Northampton in 1880 but unseated, having been refused the right to affirm rather than swear on the bible. He was re-elected in the following year and eventually took his seat in 1886.

22.  Mrs Besant
Annie Besant (1847-1933), née Wood, Theosophist and radical [more]. Between 1874 and 1885 she was associated with Bradlaugh in several ventures.

23.  Jones
Possibly Edward Coley Burne-Jones (1833-1898), painter and designer [more].

24.  Mrs Maitland

25.  Lawlors
One of the Lawlors may have been Uniacke J. Lawlor (fl. 1854-1876), portrait and figure painter [more].

26.  Countess of Caithness
Janet Sinclair (m. 1855), née McLeod, Countess of Caithness [more].