UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Italy, Venice
Record 9 of 143

System Number: 09027
Date: [30 August / 2 September 1876][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Alan Summerly Cole[2]
Place: [Scotland]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Rare Books Division, Rosenwald Collection
Document Type: ALS[3]


Anything more absurd than your floundering about in Scotch sleet[4] and winds - losing all the tone you are supposed to have acquired in your tour on the Continent - and wasting the chance of imposing upon me with any new importation you liked! - Why of course you should be here[5] - this is the "little Season" so often talked of - and as to my dining with you on the 11th that is very uncertain[6] - I hope to be in Venice[7] by that time, - though I cannot be positive for this dining room[8] is the devil - and I will not move until it is quite complete - I have worked like a nigger and really in the way of decoration done something gorgeous! You must immediately on your return go round to Princes Gate, 49 and say that I wish you to look over the dining room -

The family are all away[9] and if you go on a Wednesday or Thursday Leyland himself would be absent - that is only thoughtful (because of your shyness) if you don't know him, and I have forgotten -

I suppose I really complete the thing this week - and then still have some lovely peacocks[10] to do on the shutters - you will be immensely pleased [... text missing] Now I cannot write you letters - and news - and all that - I must go on with my work. Have you been to The Cottage[11] Milford - delightful - heard of your letters - charming - no end of prospectuses[12]. "Venice - by Whistler" - sent all over the place from the Cottage - no rise to the bait among the "crime" - filthily poor and stingy - we are disgusted - and disillusioned about all the dear Duchesses and dear Marchionesses.

Good notion yours about Owen[13] - Have sent to Lucas[14] and Morrison[15] from your advice - You can write - and perhaps I may still be here on your return. Why dont you come back now -

Kindest regards to all
Ever yours

J. A. McN. Whistler [butterfly signature]


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

1.  [30 August / 2 September 1876]
Dated from Cole's memorandum 'about Sept. 3, 1876' and reference to peacock shutters, which were complete or almost complete by 2 September (see note below).

2.  Alan Summerly Cole
Alan Summerly Cole (1846-1934), textile expert and museum official [more].

3.  ALS
Transcription also in Grasberger catalogue, Philadelphia, c. 1926, p. 14, item 27, in the Library of Congress.

4.  Scotch sleet
Gaps in Cole's diary (see #12986) suggest that he was away from London between June and early September 1876.

5.  here
The last time Cole recorded a meeting with JW was on 12 July (see Alan Cole Diary, #13132). He did not see the Peacock Room (see note below) until 20 September (Alan Cole diary, #12986).

6.  uncertain
JW did in fact dine with Alan Cole on 11 September 1876 (Alan Cole diary, #12986).

7.  Venice
JW planned to work on a set of etchings of Venice but seems to have postponed his departure several times. Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more] wrote to a friend in early September: 'dear Jemie came to me for a day or two's rest last month, he with his pencil enabled me to fancy it, he came to bid me goodbye in anticipation of soon going to Venice to make a set of 12 etchings' (see A. M. Whistler to J. H. Gamble, #06560).

8.  dining room
The dining room at 49, Prince's Gate, the new London home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), shipowner, his wife Frances, and their children Frederick Dawson, Fanny, Florence and Elinor. JW had been working all summer on a decorative scheme for the room, Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178).

9.  away
The Leylands were probably in Scotland (see JW to Frances Leyland, #08063).

10.  peacocks
The peacocks on the shutters were well-advanced by the time a review of the room appeared in Anon., 'Notes and News,' The Academy: A Weekly Review of Literature, Science, and Art, new series, vol. 10, no. 226, 2 September 1876, p. 249. It reported: 'Inside of the shutters, so as to occupy the space of the windows at night, the artist has placed full-sized representations of the bird itself.'

11.  the Cottage
Home of Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford (1837-1916), Lord Redesdale (1886), diplomat, Secretary of the Office of Works, and collector [more] and his wife, Clementine Gertrude Helen Mitford (1854-1932), née Ogilvy, wife of the 1st Baron Redesdale [more].

12.  prospectuses
For JW's proposed set of etchings of Venice (see note above). His intentions were first publicised in Anon., 'Notes and News,' The Academy: A Weekly Review of Literature, Science, and Art, new series, vol. 10, no. 226, 2 September 1876, p. 249.

13.  Owen
Probably Sir Philip Cunliffe Owen (d. 1894), Director, South Kensington Museum [more].

14.  Lucas
Probably George Aloysius Lucas (1824-1909), art dealer in Paris [more].

15.  Morrison
Possibly Hargrave Morrison (b. 1817), oil and colour merchant [more].