The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 5th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1871
Record 3 of 9

System Number: 11469
Date: [October/November 1871][1]
Author: JW
Place: Liverpool
Recipient: Walter Greaves[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscripts Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 9/642-43
Document Type: TLc

'On paper[3] with monogram "F.R.L." - 'Leyland'


My dear Walter -

I have every day intended to write and thank you for your very kind offices in seeing to the safe packing and getting off for me of the picture[4], and also the plates[5] - all of which have reached me all right -

The work goes on well enough down here - and I have two large canvases[6] under way - but I don't know that I have quite got on the Waterman's jerk just yet! However, that will come shortly, I doubt not. The fact is, I miss my morning's row! Meanwhile though the plan of my new pictures is very pleasing and when the work itself is farther advanced I shall write to you both more about it - You have heard from my Mother[7] and the Doctor[8] I daresay all about the way in which the pictures are hung[9] and how they look. They are in the improving company of a grand Velasquez[10] you know, and it is saying a great deal when I am able to feel not ashamed of their bearing under such trying conditions - You tell me in your letter[11] that you had seen someone who was pleased with the appearance of the two pictures in the Dudley[12] - but by this time I suppose you have both been there and so you must write me a line and tell us all about it! [p. 2] how they stand their ground and the impression they seem to produce and the rest of it - I suppose there is as yet nothing in the papers about the gallery - I have seen nothing myself - I have done several evening skies[13] in the colored chalks you know and hope to start one or two small paintings[14] of the same kind soon. You ['bit cut out[15] for autograph on other side of the page'] only just begun - and hitherto it has been very dull and grey weather - By the way the canvas seems to work very well, and I manage to stretch and prepare it myself easily enough - It was very kind of you to send me your etching needles, but you must manage to replace them and do some etchings yourselves while I am away - I am afraid you have sent me all my plates, otherwise if you could only find any still in the studio, I wish you would take them and use them yourselves - but I am afraid there are none - Mr. Ridley[16] would show you all about the biting in and printing -

Now I must bid you Good-bye for the present - With kindest regards to you both and my remembrances to your mother and sisters,

Very sincerely yours,

['signature cut out'][17]

I happened upon one of the set of the Piano performer and the Amateur, and sent it to you the other day. Isn't it charming? -

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [October/November 1871]
Dated from address. JW spent the autumn of 1871 at Speke Hall, near Liverpool, the home of his patron Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more]. Dated also from reference to the Dudley Gallery where JW exhibited several works in 1871.

2.  Walter Greaves
Walter Greaves (1846-1930), boatman and painter [more].

3.  On paper ... Leyland
Note written by the Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855-1936), née Robins, JW's biographer [more], at top of sheet. 'Leyland' was written in a different hand, possibly by Joseph Pennell (1860-1926), printer and illustrator, JW's biographer [more].

4.  picture
A reference to Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101): in October 1871, JW arranged for this portrait (upon which he had been working over the summer), to be sent to Speke Hall and shown to the Leylands (#10071).

5.  plates
JW worked on a number of etchings of Speke and the Leyland family, including Florence Leyland (K.110); Elinor Leyland (K.109); Fanny Leyland (K.108); F.R.Leyland (K.102) and Speke Shore (K.144).

6.  canvases
Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland (YMSM 106) and possibly Portrait of Miss Florence Leyland (YMSM 107).

7.  Mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

8.  Doctor
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

9.  pictures are hung
A reference to Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland (YMSM 97) and Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101): in October 1871, A. M. Whistler reported that the former was hanging at Speke Hall (#11842).

10.  Velasquez
Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660), painter [more]. Probably the portrait Formerly attributed to Velazquez, The Corregidor of Madrid (whereabouts unknown) (z22), then attributed to Velázquez. In ca August 1871, Leyland was considering purchase of the picture through Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more], and asked JW for advice. JW came to doubt its authenticity (#11867). Leyland accepted JW's opinion but owing to a confusion of correspondence (#11869), the picture was sent to Speke and remained in Leyland's possession until his death in 1892.

11.  letter

12.  Dudley
The Dudley Gallery, Fifth Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London. JW exhibited Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea (YMSM 103) as Harmony in Blue-Green - Moonlight (cat. no. 265) and Variations in Violet and Green (YMSM 104) cat. no. 225.

13.  evening skies

14.  small paintings
The works mentioned here are likely to belong to a group of early Nocturnes including Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 113); Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Cremorne Lights (YMSM 115); Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Southampton Water (YMSM 117) and Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Battersea Reach (YMSM 119); All date from the years 1870-75.

15.  bit cut out ... the page
Written in the hand of Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855-1936), née Robins, JW's biographer [more].

16.  Mr. Ridley
Matthew White Ridley (1837-1888), painter and etcher [more].

17.  ['signature cut out']
Written in E. R. Pennell's hand.