UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler

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Sheridan Ford, 1860-1922

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1860
Place of Birth: Dundee, Monroe, MI
Date of Death: 1922
Place of Death:

Identity:

Sheridan Ford was an American journalist. He married Mary Bacon Martin in New York on 31 October 1887. They later divorced.

Life:

Ford was the author of Art, a Commodity (1888), a pamphlet investigating the art trade, which had a wide circulation both in the United States and Britain. Ford also contributed a series of articles on JW to the New York Herald. The Fords' connection with JW began in 1888 when, hoping to become his art agent in America, they approached him with a proposal which centred on a series of etchings to be entitled 'Whistler's American Etchings'. However, as JW soon found out, it placed chief control over his affairs with the Fords and a syndicate of New York investors (#01448). Alarmed by the proposal, JW drew back. However, the following year he responded favourably to what appears to have been Ford's suggestion that JW's letters to the press should be collated and published.

Ford began to work on the project in August 1889 but after a while JW decided to dismiss Ford and edit the book himself, realising the value that it would hold. Ford was advised by Hamilton to return the cheque that had been sent by JW as a pay off and complete the book, omitting any material that might incur copyright problems. In February 1890 Ford brought out a slim volume in Antwerp under the title The Gentle Art of Making Enemies. JW responded quickly and sought legal intervention in order to prevent its distribution. He also hastened to bring out his own edition. This was published in London by William Heinemann in June 1890. In October 1891 JW brought a law suit against Ford in Belgium which suppressed the unauthorised edition.

Ford returned to America during the late 1890s and became active in Michigan politics, serving for two terms in the state legislature.

Bibliography:

Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908; de Montfort, P., The Fiction of My Own Biography: Whistler and the Gentle Art of Making Enemies, Ph.D. diss., University of St Andrews, 1994; Seitz, Don C., 'The Story of Sheridan Ford - International Critic,' Detroit Free Press, 30 April 1922, pp. 7-8; U.S. marriage records, http://www.familysearch.org (accessed September 2004).