The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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6th February 2003 - Whistler's Ward

Among the 10,000 letters being prepared for publication in the edition of Whistler's correspondence are around 200 letters written either to or from Miss Rosalind Birnie Philip.

Rosalind Birnie Philip was the sister of Beatrix Whistler, the artist's wife. Two weeks after Trixie's death ("in the shock of his sorrow and loss" as Joseph and Elizabeth Pennell put it), Whistler declared Rosalind his Ward of Court (on 26 May 1896); he drew up a new will and made her the sole heiress and executrix of his estate. Later in 1896 Whistler, Rosalind, and her mother (Frances Philip) went to live together in the Rue du Bac, Paris. From that time on in letters to Rosalind, Whistler lightly addresses her as 'Major'.

In 1938 Rosalind Birnie Philip made her first gift to the University of Glasgow which included various paintings, prints, pastels and drawings. This was followed by a second gift of some six thousand letters, ledgers, books, etc, in 1955.

Rosalind Birnie Philip died on this day in 1958. Her bequest to the University included the residue of Whistler's studio, some important paintings and works on paper, manuscripts and books, and a large collection of prints.