UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Ralph Wormeley Curtis, 1854-1922

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1854
Place of Birth: Boston, MA
Date of Death: 1922
Place of Death:

Identity:

Ralph Wormeley Curtis was a landscape and coastal painter. He was the son of Daniel Curtis and his English wife, the daughter of an admiral. He lived in Venice at the Palazzo Barbaro on the Grand Canal.

Life:

Ralph Curtis was a fellow student and distant relative of John Singer Sargent. He was an accomplished artist, who exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Grosvenor Gallery in London, as well as at Manchester City Art Gallery.

In 1879 Curtis met JW in Venice and the two became friends. Curtis provided important accounts of JW's life in Venice, such as his relations with the American expatriate Bronson family. According to Curtis, JW had a second floor studio in the massive Palazzo Rezzonico on the Grand Canal. During this period Curtis made a number of drawings of JW.

Over the next two decades, Curtis remained close to JW, seeing him in both London and Paris. He described himself to the Pennells as a 'humble apostle' of the Whistler faith. In 1884 Curtis was amongst those, including Sargent and Julian Story, who exhibited with JW at the Dublin Sketching Club at Leinster Hall, Dublin.

Bibliography:

Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; Johnson, J., and A. Greutzner, The Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Honour, Hugh, and John Fleming, The Venetian hours of Henry James, Whistler, and Sargent, London, 1991; MacDonald, Margaret F., Palaces in the Night Whistler in Venice, Aldershot, 2001.