The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Peacock Room
Record 12 of 79

System Number: 08063
Date: [20/31 August 1876][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Frances Leyland[2]
Place: [Liverpool]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/16/5
Document Type: ALS

2 Lindsey Row - Chelsea -

My dear Mrs. Leyland -

I write two lines to tell you that I am still labouring and painting in London! - The dining room[3] has proved a Herculean task and I am bound to finish it, though nearly ill with work - for were I to drop it, doubtless I should never take it up again! - Forgive my writing little - but there is nothing even to excuse my note at all in the way of news as Flo'[4] would call it, [p. 2] beside the fact of my not yet being in Venice[5] - I have been to say Goodbye to the Mother[6] - Sutherland[7] is in Switzerland or on the way there[.]

A propos of that Mademoiselle[8] will have her telegram when she calls for it - for I have left it with Mrs Clarke[9] in Princes Gate - and Mrs Clarke has heard from her -

I shall not get off for another ten days - Would you have time to write a letter - it would be such an event - to receive one now - one is so quite out in the cold! - And I should like to know so much how you have all enjoyed this famous journey - Flo' has been most charming and written more than once - Do tell Fannie[10] with my sad love that I am quite pained never even to receive a message from her -

I am going to the Mitfords[11] to dinner tonight - they are back for a week or so before leaving for the North, and we try and keep each others spirits up - Ah but I am tired! Think of [p. 3] the rate at which I work when I tell you that the other morning I was called at quarter to six, and that it was quarter to 9 at night as I left Princes Gate! and I had only driven home and back in a hansom to lunch! - I hope you yourself are quite well Mrs Leyland - and that the grand air of Scotland will have restored you to splendid health and spirits and entirely effaced all trace of the fatigues of the Season -

with best love to all
Believe me very sincerely Yours

J. A. McN. Whistler

I said forgive my writing little forgive now my writing much!

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1.  [20/31 August 1876]
Dated from reference to the Leylands' dining room and to Venice (see below).

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

3.  dining room
Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178), JW's decorative scheme for the Leylands' dining room at 49, Prince's Gate.

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

5.  Venice
JW intended to depart for Venice in September 1876 to work on a set of etchings (see JW to A.M. Whistler, #03172). However, his quarrel with Frederick Leyland over the cost of the Peacock Room and lawsuit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more], meant that he did not make it to Venice until September 1879.

6.  Mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more]. JW visited her in Hastings later in the month (see A. M. Whistler to J. H. Gamble, #06560) before his intended trip to Venice.

7.  Sutherland
Thomas Sutherland (1834-1922), Liberal MP, Chairman of the P. and O. line [more]. The Pennells suggested that Sutherland was to have accompanied JW to Venice (see Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, vol. 1, p. 205).

8.  Mademoiselle

9.  Mrs Clarke
Mrs Clarke, possibly a servant, presumably a housekeeper.

10.  Fannie
Fanny Leyland (1857-1880), later Mrs Stevenson-Hamilton [more].

11.  Mitfords
Probably 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].