The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

return to search results

Documents associated with: 2nd Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1878
Record 13 of 20

System Number: 10913
Date: 5 November 1878
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Algernon Graves[1]
Place: [London]
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Call Number: f MS A 1412
Credit Line: Published by permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University
Document Type: ALS


Nov. 5 1878

Mr Graves -

Dear Sir

Please deliver to Mr Ionides my "Nocturne in Grey and Gold[3]" in the [deal?] frame that is in your Galleries - and oblige

Yours very faithfully

J A McNeill Whistler

The White House -
Chelsea Embankment

'The picture[4] described above has been received and sold by me -

C. A. Howell -'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Algernon Graves
Algernon Graves (1845-1922), of H. Graves and Co., print dealers [more].

The address of Lucas ('Luke') Alexander Ionides (1837-1924), stockbroker and businessman [more].

3.  Nocturne in Grey and Gold
A number of JW's exhibits from the Grosvenor Gallery exhibitions of 1877 and 1878 were gathered during preparations for the case of Whistler v. Ruskin. Some were then exhibited to the jury at Westminster Hall during the trial, heard at the Queen's Bench of the High Court on 25-26 November 1878. One Nocturne was exhibited 'Nocturne in Grey and Gold' in 2nd Summer Exhibition, Grosvenor Gallery, London, 1878 (cat. no. 57), and is generally identified as Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Chelsea Snow (YMSM 174). It was then owned by A. Chapman, who appears to have bought it from C. A. Howell some time in March or April 1878. The title, and Howell's note on the letter above, plus the fact that the picture was exhibited at the Grosvenor, all point to it being the picture mentioned in the letter. Its temporary presence with Graves could be explained in several ways, since several of JW's paintings were on deposit there, in an indeterminate state of ownership, as surety for loans. However, there does not seem to be room for Ionides in this provenance. There are indeed numerous references to one or two Nocturnes being owned by Ionides, but these have not been identified with certainty: see Symphony in Grey and Gold (YMSM 143) and Nocturne in Grey and Gold (YMSM 155).

4.  The picture ... Howell
Written by Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more]. The date of Howell's note is not known but it is possible it too dates from 1878 and it was intended as evidence of the painting's ownership. It looked better if some of JW's works were in private hands rather than all pawned to Graves.