UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: finance, bankruptcy (JW)
Record 11 of 262

System Number: 08791
Date: [c. 9 August 1876][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Frederick Richards Leyland[2]
Place: [Liverpool]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscripts Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 6B/21/11
Document Type: ALS


Dear Leyland -

Your walls[3] are finished - they are to receive their last coat of varnish tomorrow - (indeed the men[4] promised to do part this afternoon) - and on Friday you can put up the pots[5] -

The blue which I tried as an experiment was quite injurious on the tone of that leather[6] - and so I have carefully erased all trace of it - retouching the small yellow flowers[7] wherever required - leaving the whole work perfect and complete - [p. 2] The wave pattern above and below - on the green gold - will alone be painted in blue - and this I shall come and do on Friday - without at all interfering with the pots or the leather -

I had fully hoped to see you at dinner today - ?

Ever yours

J A McN. Whistler

Wednesday night


This document is protected by copyright.


Notes:

1.  [c. 9 August 1876]
Dated from reference to 'Wednesday' and to Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178) (see below, and Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 211-12).

2.  Frederick Richards Leyland
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more].

3.  walls
The walls of Leyland's dining room at his London home, 49, Prince's Gate. The room was remodelled by Thomas Jeckyll (1827-1881), architectural designer [more], before JW set to work on it. Leyland allowed JW to make some modest alterations to the leather wall-hangings, the backdrop for his collection of blue and white porcelain. It was also intended to house La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (YMSM 50) and The Three Girls (YMSM 88). However, JW's alterations overtook Jeckyll's original design and the room was reborn as the decorative scheme Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178). It was completed in the spring of 1877. But JW quarrelled with Leyland over the cost of the scheme. He only received half the 2000 guineas that he had expected although he had spent the best part of a year on the work. This had a catastrophic effect on his finances. Leyland, a major creditor, later became a trustee of JW's bankrupt estate. JW owed him £630 (see #08886).

4.  men
Possibly the brothers, Walter Greaves (1846-1930), boatman and painter [more], and Henry Greaves (1843-1904), boat builder and painter [more].

5.  pots
Leyland's collection of blue and white porcelain, which he intended for the dining room. He had been collecting it since c. 1870, probably assisted by Murray Marks (1840-1918), dealer in oriental art [more] (see Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, pp. 168-69).

6.  leather
The gilt leather that Leyland had purchased through Marks for £1000 (see Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Whistler Journal, Philadelphia, 1921, p. 109; for an explanation of the technique of 'gilding' leather see Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 191).

7.  yellow flowers
The flowers on the leather had originally been red but JW was allowed to retouch them with yellow in order to better set off Leyland's collection (for additional information on the flower decoration see Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 211).