Documents associated with: Peacock Room
Record 13 of 79
System Number: 09027
Date: [30 August / 2 September 1876]
Recipient: Alan Summerly Cole
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Rare Books Division, Rosenwald Collection
Document Type: ALS
Anything more absurd than your floundering about in Scotch sleet 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 - this is the "little Season" so often talked of - and as to my dining with you on the 11th that is very uncertain - I hope to be in Venice by that time, - though I cannot be positive for this dining room 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 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 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 Milford - delightful - heard of your letters - charming - no end of prospectuses. "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.
Kindest regards to all
J. A. McN. Whistler [butterfly signature]
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).
Transcription also in Grasberger catalogue, Philadelphia, c. 1926, p. 14, item 27, in the Library of Congress.
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).
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].
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.