The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Howell, Charles Augustus
Record 29 of 397

System Number: 02174
Date: 26 August 1871
Author: Charles Augustus Howell[1]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler H271
Document Type: ALS


26. August. 1871.

My Dear Whistler -

Having myself had the settlement of the Legros[2] question, and hearing that at the time the dispute[3] arose between you he denied all liability to you in any shape or form, I think it best just that you should hold some document from me clearly showing the justice of your claim, and Mr Legros tardy readiness to admit the [p. 2] same. -

After carefully examining your housekeeping books in which all necessaries of life - to the postage of Mr Legros correspondence with his family in Paris - were duly and scrupulously entered for a series of years[4], I found Mr Legros to be indebted to you in the sum of £25.

Unable any longer to refute the claim, he requested me to pay you over this amount, [p. 3] deducting it from the sum of one hundred pounds due to him by me for his picture of the "Refectory"[5] - For this I sent you a cheque on the 23. July 1868, handing at the same time one to Mr Legros for £75, being the balance of my debt to him -

On receiving your receipt[6] acquitting Mr Legros of all further liability to you, I still thought it advisable to secure a second witness thoroughly cognisant of the whole transaction and accordingly delivered the same into the hands of [p. 4] Mr Constantine Ionides[7], a person of undoubted respectability and Mr Legros intimate friend -

He at my request took charge of the receipt, and conveyed it himself to Mr Legros -

Most Sincerely Yours -

Charles A. Howell

James Whistler Esqr.

This document is protected by copyright.


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

2.  Legros
Alphonse Legros (1837-1911), painter, etcher and art teacher [more]. JW had known Legros in Paris during the 1850s where together with Ignace-Henri-Jean-Théodore Fantin-Latour (1836-1904), artist [more], they invented the Societé des Trois. Needing to escape his father's creditors and encouraged by JW, he moved to London in 1863. JW assisted him with establishing himself on the London art scene, introducing him to a wealthy Greek couple Alexander Constantine Ionides (1810-1890), shipping merchant and collector [more] and Euterpe Ionides (1816-1892), née Sgouta, wife of A. C. Ionides [more] and their family. He also lived briefly with JW at 7 Lindsay Row.

3.  dispute
By April 1867 the friendship between JW and Legros was over after a row which came to blows. They were never reconciled. The reasons for their dispute are unclear but it has been suggested that Legros became jealous when JW assisted Fantin in obtaining a commission to copy the works of old masters (see [Luke Ionides, Memories, Paris 1925,] p. 13) although George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier (1834-1896), author and caricaturist [more] describes Legros himself as having received the same or a similar commission (see Du Maurier, Daphne, ed., The Young George du Maurier: A Selection of his Letters, 1860-67, London, 1951, p. 248). They also seem to have had a protracted quarrel about money dating to 1864 (see Ionides, Luke Memories, Paris, 1925, reprinted with an afterword by Julia Ionides, Ludlow, 1996, p. 74) and about Legros' marriage during the same period.

4.  years
JW seems to have shared household expenses with Legros during 1863-4. See #02505.

5.  'Refectory'
A. Legros, Le Réfectoire (z4).

6.  receipt

7.  Constantine Ionides
Probably Constantine Alexander Ionides (1833-1900), collector and businessman [more]. Ionides was eldest son of Alexander Constantine Ionides (1810-1890), shipping merchant and collector [more]. He became Legros' most important patron.