The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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John Hollingshead, 1827-1904

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1827.09.09
Place of Birth: Union Street, Hoxton
Date of Death: 1904.10.09
Place of Death: Fulham Road, London


John Hollingshead was a journalist and manager of the Gaiety theatre.


According to Hollingshead, Whistler attended the last rehearsals at the Gaiety Theatre of the Grasshopper, Hollinghead's adaption of Henri Meilhac & Ludovic Halévy's La Cigale, in which a caricature of Whistler painted by Pellegrini appeared. It was first performed on 13 October 1877. Whistler was particularly enamoured with Nellie Farren who played the 'grasshopper', a girl who escaped from a circus troupe. Whistler described her in a letter to Theodore Watts Dunton as 'the belle Farina' (#09575). In January 1878 Whistler made a drawing of her in performance, on the back of a letter to B. Verity and Sons, r.: Masked girl wearing a head-dress skipping; v.: Dancer (M.663) and Souvenir of the Gaiety (M.664). The Greaves family state that Oscar Wilde, Frank Miles and Whistler actually had a song and dance act in the farce. Whistler also made several pen drawings in October 1877 of the accompanying burlesque Little Dr Faust by H. J. Byron.


Hollingshead, John, My Lifetime, 2 vols, London, 1895; Hollingshead, J., Gaiety Chronicles, London, 1898; Hollingshead, J., Good Old Gaiety, London, 1903; 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; Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford, on-line edition (accessed 2004).