The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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William Craibe Angus, 1830-1899

Nationality: Scottish
Date of Birth: 1830
Place of Birth:
Date of Death: 1899
Place of Death:


William Craibe Angus was a Glasgow art dealer. He married the daughter of a Dutch dealer. Angus's sister Isabel married the Dutch art dealer Elbert J. Van Wisselingh.


Angus was a member of the Glasgow firm of art dealers Craibe Angus & Son. The firm held a position of some importance in the Glasgow art world, exhibiting works by contemporary European artists, particularly those of the Hague school and the works of Corot, Monticelli and the Barbizon school. These it sold to local collectors such as John Forbes White, Hugh Laird, John Kirkhope, William McEwan and W. A. Coats.

The firm of Craibe Angus & Son was also interested in the work of JW and on 15 August 1882, JW offered them Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137) for 500 guineas. According to M. D. Macaulay, Andrew Carnegie of Pittsburgh promised to contribute £100 but Craibe Angus & Son failed to persuade its other customers to raise the rest of the capital. JW also offered the company Nocturne in Black and Gold: Entrance to Southampton Water (YMSM 179) for 130 guineas and suggested that it could sell it on for £200. JW further offered some of his small watercolours and Venice etchings which he described as 'very rich in quality, & I believe quite as beautiful as any thing I have ever done' (#00166).

The Angus firm persuaded William Burrell to buy Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181) for £400, receiving £60 commission for the deal. It was also involved in the reselling of the work to Smythe, a New York art dealer. It attempted to sell eleven of JW's pen and wash drawings of Nankin china to Pennell in 1905, including Oviform Vase (M.596), Oviform Vase and Cover (M.603), Large Bowl and Cover (M.605), Oviform Vase (M.609), Ewer and Cover (M.610), Tall Vase, with Bulging Body (M.611), Beaker (M.615), Vase with slightly bulging body and expanding neck (M.619), Large Bowl and Cover (M.634), Teapot in the form of a pomegranate (M.641) and Teapot, in the form of a pomegranate (M.642). They were not bought by Pennell but later purchased by a Scottish collector.

The clothing merchant, textile manufacturer and collector Thomas Glen Arthur, a notable admirer of JW and owner of Study for the Head of Miss Cicely H. Alexander (YMSM 128) r.: Two Standing Figures; v.: Figure (M.464), Venice (M.825), Vénus Astarté (M.1232), as well as a large number of his etchings, was described by William Craibe Angus to JW as 'one of my best amateurs'. In January 1887 he asked JW to select a set of impressions from Dowdeswells (#00167) for Arthur.

W. C. Angus heard JW present his Ten O'Clock lecture at The Vale in August 1887, and wrote to him that it was 'unique' and that he was 'delighted at having heard it from your own lips.' He hoped that JW would come and give the lecture at the Arts Club in Glasgow (#00174). Angus also wrote in October 1890 to express his sympathy to JW concerning the Hawk incident, the magazine having published what JW considered to be a libel of Edward William Godwin (1833-1886), architect and designer [more] (#00188).


Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995 Smith, George Fairfull, 'Glasgow', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 12 July 2002).