The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: 5th Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1895
Record 11 of 13

System Number: 05390
Date: 1 November [1895][1]
Author: John Singer Sargent[2]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler S34
Document Type: ALS

Nov. 1st


My dear Whistler

In case there was a scheme - even a chance to buy the Peacock Room[3] for the Boston library[4], wouldn't you much prefer that it should be kept together in a space of the same [p. 2] size or thereabouts rather than that bits of it should be scattered about in a large hall? I should like to know what you think, as some one over there is writing me - Mrs Gardner[5] of course - she says Bates' Hall, but she can't have any idea of what the [p. 3] peacock room is like - It seems to me if the Peacock Room bodily could be made a committee room or librarians room or something of that sort it would be much better -

Meanwhile it is not for sale or was not two months ago - Immediately after White[6] left the agent wrote me that Mrs [Watkin?] [p. 4] Watkin[7] had wired that it was not for sale - but it is time for her to have changed her mind -

How charming your head[8] is at the New Gallery -

Yours [sincerely?]

John S. Sargent

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1.  1 November [1895]
Dated from reference to the Peacock Room (see below).

2.  John Singer Sargent
John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), artist [more].

3.  Peacock Room
Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178), JW's decorative scheme for the dining room at 49, Prince's Gate, for Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more].

4.  Boston library
JW was first invited to decorate three panels at the north-east end of Bates Hall in Boston Public Library in 1891. His designs, Study for three decorative panels representing 'The Landing of Columbus', 'Queen Isabel la Catôlica of Spain', and 'Queen Elizabeth of England' for Boston Public Library, Massachusetts (M.1356) and Study for Three Decorative Panels Representing 'The Landing of Columbus', 'Queen Isabel la Católica of Spain' and 'Queen Elizabeth of England' (YMSM 396), date from 1892. However by the spring of 1895, the offer was withdrawn due to lack of funds (Trustees to JW, #00350).

5.  Mrs Gardner
Isabella Stewart Gardner (1840-1924), née Stewart, collector [more].

6.  White
Stanford White (1853-1906), architect [more]; see S. White's letter to JW which describes his visit with Sargent to 49 Princes Gate, 20 September 1895, #03724.

7.  Watkin
Blanche Marie Georgiana Watney (1837?-1915), of the brewing family [more], bought 49 Princes Gate about 1894 (see Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, pp. 315-17). The room was eventually dismantled and bought by Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more], then dismantled again and re-erected in the Freer Gallery in Washington.

8.  head
Crimson note: Carmen (YMSM 441), at the 5th Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1895.