The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Whistler 2003 - Centenary Journal

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8th August 2003 - Lost in the Provinces

Following a request by Glasgow art dealers Craibe Angus and Son for Whistler to paint an original picture for one of their clients, the artist responded on 22 December 1887 in the following fashion:

"I will do what I can for you in this matter, on condition that your client thoroughly be made to understand that on buying a painting of mine he engages himself to lend it for exhibition either in this country or abroad, when asked to do so. Of course I would never abuse his kindness, only I cannot have a picture of mine absolutely lost in the provinces (as is the case with the one that Mr Lethardt [sic] bought years ago)."

(GUL MS Whistler A180)

Whistler is probably referring to his picture Purple and Rose: The Lange Leizen of the Six Marks (YMSM 47), which was sold to James Leathart of Newcastle in the mid-1860s, and which he considered difficult to procure from the owner for exhibition.

In their reply, Craibe Angus and Son reflected their own frustrations with Whistler, partly due to the fact that they had not always been supplied with his newest etchings in time to fulfill demand for potential sales. On 23 December 1887 they wrote proudly:

"... We thank you for the promise of an important picture, & hope to have such soon. Pictures are not "lost in the provinces", as you seem to think they are - If you come & see us y[ou] will return declaring that London is more provincal [sic] than the provinces - We could put a good Whistler into a better collection of pictures than has been formed in London. / Yours faithfully / Craibe Angus & Son"

(GUL MS Whistler A181)