The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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27th May 2003 - Death of William Leiper

When it comes to discussions of the life, work, and influence of Whistler, it is very often with reference to some of the major artists and critics of his day (such as the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, John Ruskin, Claude Monet, Auguste Rodin, etc.) that comments are made and conclusions drawn.

However, Whistler also won the support of and exerted an influence over a great number of artists who today have a much lesser profile but yet formed important artistic networks in their day. An example of one of these artists is the Glasgow architech and watercolourist William Leiper, who died on this day in 1916.

Leiper was born in Glasgow in 1839, and apprenticed as an architect in Glasgow and London (later he also studied painting in Paris). In 1865 he was commissioned to design Dowanhill Church of Scotland, and became known as one of Glasgow's leading Gothic architects. In the following years he designed various villas, mansions, commercial buildings, churches, and interiors (including that for the Glasgow City Chambers' Banqueting Hall). At the 1900 Paris Exhibition Leiper won a silver medal for his design for the Sun Insurance Office (147-51 West George Street, Glasgow), and he also became renown for the exotic Templeton's Carpet Factory on Glasgow Green, which he based on the Doge's Palace in Venice.

Leiper was among those Glasgow artists who in 1891 appended their names to a list requesting that the Corporation of Glasgow buy Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (see Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries, Town Council Minutes, No. 671). The painting was purchased by the Corporation in that same year.