UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Mary Isabella MacNay, 1840 or 1841-??

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1840 or 1841
Place of Birth: Swindon
Date of Death:
Place of Death:

Identity:

Mary Isabella Cooke married Thomas Fothergill MacNay, a civil engineer, in 1865. They had a daughter Eleanore ('Nora') Ruth (1868-1886) and two sons Walter Laurie (1866-1946) and Harold Montague (b. 1872).

Life:

The MacNays were friends of C. A. Howell and JW in the early 1880s. JW made a couple of sketches at the family home at Upper Grove, South Norwood in 1882 that show either Mary MacNay or her daughter Nora reclining on a sofa, Mrs or Miss McNay (M.868) and La Dormeuse (M.869). JW, who was in correspondence with Nora in 1885, referred to her affectionately at this time as 'My dear lili Nora' (#04238). However, Nora died prematurely in 1886 at the age of eighteen. JW wrote to Mary MacNay on 20 February 1886 to express 'how sad we all have been about dear little Nora' whom he called a 'pretty child' (#08100). He painted a portrait of Nora for the family using an old sketch, Portrait of Miss Nora McNay (YMSM 348).

Bibliography:

Information from family descendants; Mrs or Miss McNay (M.868), La Dormeuse (M.869); Portrait of Miss Nora McNay (YMSM 348).