The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Charles William Greaves, 1837-1870

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1837
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1870
Place of Death:


Charles W. Greaves married Elizabeth (née Greenway) and they had six children: Charles, Henry, Walter, Eliza, Emily, and Alice. Alice Fay was the subject of both paintings and etchings by JW. Walter and Harry met Whistler in 1863 and became his studio assistants.


Charles W. Greaves ran a boatbuilding yard on the Thames at Chelsea. He was an ambitious man who planned the future of his children; his sons were all apprenticed to his boatyard, and later developed the business.

As a young man Charles Greaves had rowed Turner up and down the Thames. In the 1870s his sons acted in a similar capacity as oarsmen for JW. The Greaves lived a few doors from JW, at 9 Lindsey Row and JW would on occasion invite the whole family around to dinner (#11454).

Anna McNeill Whistler wrote to the Greaves family in 1871 following the death of Charles, declaring that 'he was so friendly always towards us' (#12323).


Kelly's Post Office Directory, London, 1861 et seq.; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Pocock, Tom, Chelsea Reach, The Brutal Friendship of Whistler and Walter Greaves, London, 1970, pp. 15-17; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.