The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Documents associated with: Second Annual Exhibition of Modern Pictures, Corporation of Brighton, Royal Pavillion Gallery, Brighton, 1875
Record 1 of 6

System Number: 07573
Date: [March/April 1875?][1]
Author: JW
Place: Liverpool
Recipient: William Cleverley Alexander[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: British Museum, London
Call Number: Department of Prints and Drawings, 1958-2-8-29
Document Type: ALS

[monogram:] FRL[3]

Speke -

Sunday -

My dear Alexander -

Mrs. Livermore [4]- has told me in one of her letters that you had called and seen the new Nocturne[5] - how do you like it? I am going to send it to this famous exhibition[6] - And by the way you were kind enough to suggest that I also send some etchings and dry points with prices affixed - All right - so I will - and that you would like to know the prices - Well - let me see - I don't quite recollect what proofs you have - but I think - 1st. The oyster smacks[7] old Hungerford Market - 2. gs. [tick]

[p. 2]

"Amsterdam - from the Tolhuis[8]" - 2. gs - [tick]
"The storm"   dry point. 3. " (I dont quite remember whether you kept this)-
"The ship builders yard". dry point - 5. gs - [tick]
"The Guitar player"            " 6. gs - [tick]
The little lady seated -        " 3. gs - [tick]
Girl at the piano - Miss Greaves[9] - 5 - gs - [tick]
"The little pool" - etching & dry point - 2. gs - [tick]
Chelsea Wharf. etching - 3. gs -  a little long proof -


I dont remember if there be others, but if so you can mention them in your answer - also if I have made any mistakes in putting down to you what you have not kept - And if you like you can thrust a cheque upon me for the "demned total" as Mr Mantilini[10] would say - and I will submit with the grace that you recognise as habitual on such occasions! -

I shall come up town this afternoon and post this in the London pillar [box] myself - so that you can direct to Lindsey Houses - I hope May[11] is now quite well again - and looking forward anxiously to the delight of standing one of these days - However I shall call before I leave town and meanwhile with kindest regards to yourself and Mrs. Alexander[12]

Ever Yours sincerely

J A McN. Whistler

[p. 3] 'Whistler [13]Etchings - '

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [March/April 1875]
JW was at Speke Hall, near Liverpool, the home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more] during much of the winter of 1874-75. This letter probably dates from immediately before his return in the Spring.

2.  William Cleverley Alexander
William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), banker and patron [more].

3.  FRL
The embossed monogram of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more]. A space was left between 'the way you' and 'were kind' for the monogram, which is at right angles to the text of the letter.

4.  Mrs. Livermore
Kate ('Cousin Kate') Livermore (1820-1907), née Prince, wife of A. Livermore [more]. The letter mentioned has not been located, although one to A. M. Whistler, containing references to the sale of paintings, is dated 27 July 1875 (#02623).

5.  Nocturne
The most recent Nocturne ready for exhibition was probably Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170) but several others were in the studio (see below).

6.  exhibition
JW sent Nocturnes to two exhibitions in the autumn/winter of 1875. Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Battersea Reach (YMSM 119), Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge (YMSM 140) and Nocturne in Blue and Gold (YMSM 141) went to the Second Annual Exhibition of Modern Pictures, Corporation of Brighton, Royal Pavillion Gallery, Brighton, 1875. Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Westminster Bridge (YMSM 145) and Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket (YMSM 170) were shown at the 9th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1875. Neither exhibition was exactly 'famous', so perhaps JW was being ironic.

7.  The oyster smacks
Probably Old Hungerford Bridge (K.76). The pencil ticks presumably mark Alexanders confirmation of the etchings he had bought.

8.  Amsterdam
The etchings listed are: Amsterdam from the Tolhuis (K.91), The Storm (K.81), Shipbuilder's Yard (K.146), The Guitar Player (K.140), Maude, Seated (K.115), The Piano (K.141), The Little Pool (K.74) and Chelsea Wharf (K.89). The most recent of these was Shipbuilder's Yard (K.146), which was etched in Liverpool while JW was staying at Speke.

9.  Miss Greaves
Alice ('Tinnie') Fay Greaves (b. 1852), model [more].

10.  Mr Mantilini
Alfred Mantilini was the layabout husband of the fashionable dress-maker and milliner, in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby, London, 1838-39.

11.  May
Agnes Mary Alexander (1862-1950), daughter of W. C. Alexander [more]. May's portrait, Miss May Alexander (YMSM 127), was probably started when JW returned from Speke in September 1874 (see his letter to Mrs Alexander, #07583). On 1 February 1875 although the picture was incomplete, W. C. Alexander paid £50 on account (#07565). According to Stevenson, the portrait 'was interupted in its early beginning by the illness of the young lady, and never taken up again' (Stevenson, Robert Alan Mowbray, Velasquez, London, 1899, p. 28). Saved by Thomas Way from the chaos of JW's bankruptcy in 1879, it was probably retrieved by JW in 1897, and was considered sufficiently complete to be exhibited in the 8th Exhibition, Society of Portrait Painters, London, 1898, before being handed over to Alexander.

12.  Mrs. Alexander
Rachel Agnes Alexander (b. ca 1837, m. 1861), née Lucas, wife of W. C. Alexander [more].

13.  Whistler
The remainder of the text written in unknown hands.