The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: [Centennial International Exhibition], Philadelphia, 1876
Record 5 of 6

System Number: 02407
Date: [17 February 1877][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Henry Jeckyll[2]
Place: [Norwich?]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler J28
Document Type: ALd

Dear Mr Jeckyll -

I fear that in time I shall offend all my best friends by my unfortunate procrastination distaste for writingmy pen combined with a sad procrastination that has more than once placed me in an awkward predicament - Your brother Tom[3] was always one of my warmest an intimate comrades and we were greatly attached - I have felt much sorrow and in the sorrow that has come upon him no one has been more grieved than myself[.] No one has more felt for you all in your [p. 2] distress - Yet I have never written no letter of mine has ever told you this but I have always hoped to say it to yourself some day when we might meet - I doubt if Tom ever counted among his admirers any more sincere and devoted than myself - I did for once as you remind me testify publicly to the same in the note[4] I sent to the papers - And will now again insert in the Builder and Architect[5] a statement[6] to the same effect - I wish I could talk to you instead of writing for I am convinced that in five minutes you would all misapprehension on your part would be cleared away - Whereas you may at present be suffering from a feeling of injustice done to my old friend Tom - I ought to tell you that he always cared for my judgment in his artistic work and I will send you a letter of his some day that I value, to [p. 3] show you on what terms we were - It is therefore best that I should say dis clearly that the dining room[7] at Princes Gate was when he had done with it not at all the "Peacock Room or Harmony in Blue & Gold." that has since been I be is no When it was given up to me to decorate, I worked out on my own responsibility this arrangement combination in blue & gold and took the Peacock as a means of carrying out the arrangement. Tom never was absent and really never saw the room until the whole color scheme was nearly complete, and I had begun to gild on my own responsibility his lovely columns feeling sure that by this means the beautiful carving would for the first time be fully brought out - as was the case[.] Before in their original state of dull brown walnut it could only be made out on close inspection and accross [sic] [p. 4] the room was clearly quite invisible - I met with objection on the part of Mr Leyland[8] who really feared that your brother might be annoyed at his work being gilded without his previous consent - but I remembered that before now in the matter case of the Pavilion[9] for Philadelphia he had beengiven asked up me for the color, and so took the matter in my own hands feeling sure that Tom would be pleased, as he finally was - Now I tell you all this because possibly you may be under the impression that the [adr?] gilding of the room - arrangement in blue & gold in short - with the peacocks was part of Toms scheme and that then later a from him only portion I had withold accepted the criticisms on the Peacock Room unjustifiably - I enclose an article[10] from the Academy wh[ich]. probably you have not seen, and which you would perhaps like to have published in the Norwich papers - Pray write me a line to say that any mistake is cleared up between us - and that you have never really doubted my warm friendship for your brother Tom -

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1.  [17 February 1877]
After 17 February 1877. Dated from references to Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178) and articles in press.

2.  Henry Jeckyll
Henry Jeckyll or Jeckell (1838-1917), iron and brass founder, brother of Thomas Jeckyll [more].

3.  Tom
Thomas Jeckyll (1827-1881), architectural designer [more].

4.  note
JW's letter was published in Anon., 'Notes and News,' The Academy: A Weekly Review of Literature, Science, and Art, new series, vol. 10, no. 227, 9 September 1876, p. 275 (see #13692).

5.  The Builder and Architect
Journal of the building and architectural trades.

6.  statement
See #00431, JW to The Builder and Architect, a draft of a letter to the editor.

7.  dining room
JW's interior scheme, Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178), for his patron Frederick Leyland.

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

9.  Pavilion for Philadelphia
Probably a reference to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition.

10.  article
Possibly William Michael Rossetti (1829-1919), civil servant and critic [more], "Notes on Art and Archaeology," The Academy, new series, 11, 17 February 1877, p. 147. The article includes the sentence: 'The colour-scheme of the whole apartment, ceiling included, consists of blue on a gold ground, or of gold on a blue ground; its forms are also elaborately varied with shelf and bracket-work for the holding and display of blue china - the constructive arrangement of wall and ceiling being due to Mr. Jeckyll.'