The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Biography

William Eden, 1849-1915

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1849.04.04
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1915.02.20
Place of Death:


Sir William Eden, a landowner, huntsman, traveller, collector and amateur painter, was the second son of the sixth Baronet, and succeeded his father in 1873. He lived at Windlestone, Ferry Hill, County Durham. In 1886 he married Sybil Frances Grey (1867-1945), the daughter of Sir William Grey. Their daughter, Elfrida Marjorie Eden (1887-1943), married Guy, Lord Brooke in 1909 and became Countess of Warwick in 1924.


Eden exhibited regularly in London and Paris. He also collected art and owned The Seashore (YMSM 297), which was probably painted 1883/5. On 4 March 1895 Eden brought an action against JW because the artist refused to hand over the portrait he had been commissioned to paint of Lady Eden, Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), JW being dissatisfied with Eden's payment. JW lost but, believing that as an artist he had the right to withhold any work with which he was not entirely happy, appealed in the courts on 15 December 1897 and the decision was reversed and he was allowed to keep the picture, on the proviso that it was made irrecognisable. The Eden family motto is 'Si sit prudentia' (if there be but prudence).


Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, London, 1896; Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris and New York, 1899 [GM, A.24]; Eden, Sir Timothy Calvert, The Tribulation of a Baronet, London, 1933; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; Walkley, Giles, Artists' houses in London 1764-1914, Aldershot, 1994.