The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 4 of 16

System Number: 02892
Date: [5 February 1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Charles Augustus Howell[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler LB 12/72
Document Type: ALS[3]


[ink drawing Howell and Whistler leaving the Show on fire[5], inscribed:] 'Show. / coin / Various'

'5. February. 1878.'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [5 February 1878]
Date written by C. A. Howell.

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

3.  ALS
The drawing is on cream laid paper with incomplete watermark, 'NT'; the left edge suffered some paper loss, probably when it was removed by JW from the second of two albums collected by Howell (see #02788). A similar sketch is at #02893.

4.  [butterfly]
The butterfly is not exactly a signature although it obviously is a symbol for JW, flying out of the smoke at top left.

5.  Howell and Whistler leaving the Show on fire
Howell and Whistler leaving the show on fire (M.673). The subject is a burning hut on wheels, and probably refers to the volatile state of JW's affairs. Howell is the 'owl' in top hat, coat and checked trousers, carrying off money and papers. JW called him 'owl' both because it sounded like the cockney version of his name, and because Howell was wide-awake and wise on all points. The 'show' is not necessarily an exhibition but the whole range of JW's artistic and financial affairs. The 'owl' is carrying off a money-bag labelled 'coins' and papers labelled 'various', which was their term for financial and business affairs.