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 4 of 6

System Number: 08053
Date: [18/25 September 1875][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Frances Leyland[2]
Place: [Liverpool]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 2/16/1
Document Type: ALS

My dear Mrs. Leyland -

I write two lines to thank my kind hostess for my pleasant visit[3] - and I should have done so before - but that it occurred to me that any note however indifferent in quality is more willingly read on Sunday in the country!

Miss Caird[4] came on the Tuesday instead of Wednesday as the [Marises?][5] found that best for their arrangements - so that I was just in time! - She stands very [p. 2] untireingly [sic] though I fear she must have found that day in the Studio rather a dull one - for Horace[6] who might have relieved the monotony of work with his piano did not turn up until the next day! -

The picture[7] draws near its completion and I was able to persuade Miss Caird to give me another sitting on the Thursday - She left the same evening for Wales - but I hope may come back in about a week and give me a couple more sittings if possible - for I am most anxious to finish - that the picture may not be lost - and that she may not weary of it now that I have so nearly done -

Meanwhile I trust you will be pleased to hear that the big picture[8] grows every day in beauty - and I have changed none of my plans -

So that if you will permit I still hope to return to the Hall[9] by the end of this month and go at the portraits[10] -

We have had simply awful weather here - lamps and fogs every day or two - but [p. 3] nevertheless, my models[11] have been behaving so well that I have been able to accomplish much - and am greatly encouraged -

I battle against nervousness of all sorts and work right ahead! -

The Mother[12] I heard of through the Doctor[13] the other day - She is pretty well only - but better because of his visit -

Your dress and scarf are being done the best for - May I hear that this wretched cold has not made you suffer in health?

Give my love to the girls[14] and believe me dear Mrs. Leyland

with kindest regards
Very Sincerely Yours

J. A. McN.Whistler

[butterfly signature]

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1.  [18/25 September 1875]
The 'pleasant visit' JW refers to took place around 9 September 1875 (see JW to F. R. Leyland, #11866) which suggests a date between 9 September and his intention to return to Speke at the end of the month.

2.  Frances Leyland
Frances Leyland (1836-1910), née Dawson [more].

3.  visit
JW stayed with the Leylands after he attended the opening of Second Annual Exhibition of Modern Pictures, Corporation of Brighton, Royal Pavillion Gallery, Brighton, 1875, on 8 September 1875. La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine (YMSM 50) was given place of honour there (see JW to F. R. Leyland, #11866).

4.  Caird
Ellen Caird, friend of Mrs F. Leyland, possibly a sister of Sir James Caird.

5.  [Marises?]

6.  Horace
Horace Jee, musician, JW's occasional secretary [more].

7.  picture
Probably Portrait of Miss Caird (YMSM 162), although it is possible she was standing in for another portrait.

8.  big picture
Probably The Three Girls (YMSM 88).

9.  Hall
Speke Hall, home of the Leyland family, near Liverpool.

10.  portraits
Probably JW's portraits of the Leyland children such as Elinor Leyland (M.544), Study for 'The Blue Girl: Portrait of Miss Elinor Leyland' (M.520) or Florence Leyland seated (M.525).

11.  models
JW was working on The Three Girls (YMSM 88) ; his models may have included 'Tillie' Gilchrist, JW's model, who may have been Mrs Matilda Gilchrist (b. 1828 or 1829), mother of Connie Gilchrist [more] (see also M.367-70).

12.  Mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more]. She went to live in Hastings for her health on 8 August 1875.

13.  Doctor
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

14.  girls
Florence Leyland (1859-1921), later Mrs Prinsep [more]; Elinor Leyland (1861-1952), later Mrs Speed [more]; Fanny Leyland (1857-1880), later Mrs Stevenson-Hamilton [more].