Documents associated with: Fine Art Society, The
Record 5 of 549
System Number: 06564
Date: [26/27 September 1876]
Recipient: Anna Matilda Whistler
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W557
Document Type: ALS
I come to wish you many happy returns my darling Mother - and to assure you of my fond affection - and my great wish to be with you this day! - Really I have continually promised myself a rest with you at the sea side dearest Mother for I did so enjoy the wee little visit of the while ago - but I have not managed it yet! - Never quite able to get off - Matters at home are [p. 2] getting better - I have managed to pay off many of my debts and am making careful economies - so that soon, with my new works I hope to be in comparitively in smooth water - You know from Willie that I have taken up etching again and have found that people still prefer Whistlers to all others - but the stock is not yet in absolute working order so that I must for a while longer stick hard at it - a printing press has been lent to me and soon I trust I shall turn some copper into gold! -
Ultimately I hope to get together sufficient to go to Venice with, and then I might come back in about six weeks with a sum large enough to pay off nearly everything and find myself quite out of difficulty at last! - Meanwhile Mother dear be sure that all that you wish shall be attended to - Willie knows all about coming down and looking out the things you have made a list of - and my dearest Mama I always wish [p. 3] to write - but you know how my not writing is only the result of my utter abhorrence of the pen - and then I do work so hard! -
Goodnight dear Mother -
The very first moment I can get away, you shall see arrive
Your fond though faulty Son -
J A McN. Whistler
96. Cheyne Walk -
1. 26/27 September 1876
Dated with reference to AMW's birthday, on 27 September, JW's plans of departure to Venice (see below), and JW's London address (see below). JW had visited AMW in August (see AMW to James H. Gamble, 8 and 9 September 1876, #06560) and had a dinner party himself on 27 September (see #06854).
JW's financial position was very bad. He never received full payment from Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector, for the decoration of the latter's dining room at 49 Princess Gate, London, Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178) (see AMW to JW, 11 July 1876, #06559, and AMW to E. M. H. Eastwick, 19 July 1876, #12635). In addition Leyland refused to pay the bills for the materials used. By the autumn of 1878 JW, in desperate need of cash, decided to produce etchings for the market. By January 1879 the first of the new etchings, The 'Adam and Eve', Old Chelsea (K.175) was published. See Katherine Lochnan, The Etchings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1984, pp. 176-178; and Margaret F. MacDonald, Palaces in the Night, Whistler in Venice, Aldershot, UK, 2001, pp. 15-17.
In July 1876, JW recorded the first orders in his ledger book for a series of etchings of Venice that he planned to make that autumn (see #06560). He eventually went to Venice in September 1879, with a commission from the Fine Art Society for a set of twelve etchings, Mr Whistler's Etchings of Venice, 1880 (the first 'Venice Set') (K. 183-189, 191-195), which was published on his return. They were selected from a total of fifty etchings (K.183-232, 240).
For AMW's recipes of pickles, see Margaret F. MacDonald, Whistler's Mother's Cook Book, London, 1979, pp. 133-140.