UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Record 3 of 7

System Number: 08056
Date: [March/May 1876][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Frances Leyland[2]
Place: [Liverpool]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/16/7
Document Type: ALS


My dear Mrs. Leyland -

We have here such lovely weather that I may hope that cold and coughs have fled from the Hall[3] where everything will, I daresay, begin to look brilliant and lovely - Still I am such a cockney do you know, that London under all circumstances and at every season seems to me the one dwelling place possible - Some one said "all good Americans when they die go to Paris"! I am sure that some will come here - though I doubt not that you will think that any such speculation cannot possibly concern me! - Forgive me my [p. 2] dear Mrs Leyland for troubling [you] with a flippant letter of this nature - but I intended to tell you, what I believe you will be pleased to hear, that my big picture[4] grows and grows - and I began with the little joyous warbling about the weather because I was so glad in the sun [sic] that came streaming in this morning before I went to my work -

My last note[5] of thanks to you my kind hostess I fear you found but dull reading - for what had I to tell! - I really exhausted all my facts in the way of news - I meant to give full satisfaction as a light journalist - but I have not sufficient invention - so to amuse, I told you of my work and plans! Generally the one is sad enough and the other considered but dreamy uncertainties of a thriftless and what they call in America an unreliable fellow - But to give myself for once a stable value I told you that I had in no way whatever altered my plans! and hoped soon to see you all again at Speke[6] - More I had not to say - But now I should like so much to interest you in a superb plan! dont [sic] laugh! At last there has fallen into my hands a power that properly wielded will bring me the most brilliant successes one after another [p. 3] and that is not all - My enemies all round I shall route and ruin and in short slay all over the place! - All this of course concerns my pictures - and I fear to excite your incredulity by telling you - and yet I should like to so much! - You see Madame I am wishing very much to keep it secret! you will laugh and still - the old story I should like a little sympathy!

Well - never mind I wont tell my mother[7] yet - If you are kind enough to write a little line - and say that I may trust myself to your grave consideration - and also assure me that talk about pictures will not bore you - then - of course I should like - to tell you of my great future - Meanwhile with love to all[8] and kindest regards to yourself believe me

Very sincerely Yours

J A McN. Whistler - [butterfly signature]

The house you will be glad to hear must be getting on, for the painter called the other day that I might show him about his first coat of color[9] - I shall write to Freddie[10], and answer Flo'[11] -


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Notes:

1.  [March/May 1876]
Dated from probable reference to 49 Prince's Gate, London home of the Leyland family.

2.  Frances Leyland
Frances Leyland (1836-1910), née Dawson [more].

3.  Hall
Speke Hall, near Liverpool, home of the Leylands.

4.  big picture
Probably a reference toThe Three Girls (YMSM 88).

5.  note
This could be JW to Frances Leyland, #08053. However, this would change the date of #08056 to September/October 1875.

6.  Speke
Speke Hall, near Liverpool, home of the Leyland family.

7.  mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

8.  all
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), shipowner, his wife Frances, and their children Frederick Dawson, Fanny, Florence and Elinor.

9.  color
Probably a reference to work in progress on the new London home of the Leyland family at 49 Prince's Gate. The Leylands purchased the lease in 1874 but spent many months remodelling the house. A delay on the work meant that the family did not move until 1876. See Fennell, Francis L., ed., The Rossetti-Leyland Letters, Athens, Ohio, 1978, p. 76, Letter 100. In March 1876, JW commenced work on the decorations for the hall at Prince's Gate. See Panels from the Entrance Hall at 49 Princes Gate (YMSM 175). Alan Summerly Cole (1846-1934), textile expert and museum official [more] recorded in his diary: ' 24 March 1876. 'To Leyland's house to see Whistler's colouring of Hall - very delicate cocoa-colour and gold - successful.' See Alan Cole Diary, #12986.

10.  Freddie
Frederick Dawson Leyland (b. 1856), son of F. R. Leyland [more].

11.  Flo
Florence Leyland (1859-1921), later Mrs Prinsep [more].