The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Search for People > Document Display

return to search results

Documents associated with: Watts, Walter Theodore
Record 8 of 113

System Number: 02596
Date: 25 July [1877][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Frederick Richards Leyland[2]
Place: [Liverpool]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L130
Document Type: ALd

'No. 20[3]'

This is the last letter note I shall address to you upon the subject that has inspired our recent correspondence -

I will only take up the two principal points of your letter[4] -

1st Mrs Leyland[5] never ordered me out of her house - never uttered a discourteous word to me in her life - but what am I to think of the man who shirks the real question at issue and i[n]variably screens himself behind those exalted feelings of respect with [p. 2] which I at least surround his family! -

2nd You say that during the whole of our acquaintance I "have never finished for you a single thing for which I have been paid" -

Is not the Peacock Room[6] finished? -

I have in my possession two portraits[7] which, though publicly approved of, my own artistic scruples alone have prevented me from forwarding to you who are their owner -

They shall be sent at once -

A third portrait[8] for which you have paid me is needs further sittings - it is for you to determine whether it shall be completed or whether you shall receive it as it is. -

A fourth painting[9] for which you have paid me is an imaginative picture which can only be finished under certain circumstances conditions -

In regard to this work I will do one of two things - I will either finish it for you - or I will paint it and sell it, and repay you the four hundred guineas which you paid me for it -

[p. 3] One last word as regards the value of the Peacock Room -

I have a letter from you dated the 17th of August / 76[10] in which after praising the work done you practically told me to name my own price -

I did name my price - and you refused to pay it -

You now offer to submit the matter to arbitration -

I accept -

Name your arbitrator - I will name mine - and a referee shall be agreed upon between us -

J A McN. Whistler


July 25 -

F. R. Leyland - Esq.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  25 July [1877]
This is one of two drafts of a reply to Leyland's letter, which was dated 24 July 1877 (#02593). A copy of JW's letter was numbered 'No. 4' and dated July 25 (GUL Whistler L131).

2.  Frederick Richards Leyland
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more].

3.  No. 20
Written in pencil in hand of JW, in top right corner. Double underlined. JW's plans to publish the correspondence, which included making fair copies of it and numbering the letters in sequence, came to nothing. Drafts and copies of earlier correspondence, recording stages in the breakdown in the patron-painter relationship, include #02588, #02589 and #02590.

4.  letter
Leyland wrote to JW on 24 July 1877 (#02593).

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

6.  Peacock Room
Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178).

7.  two portraits
Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland (YMSM 97) and Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland (YMSM 106). Both had been exhibited in Mr Whistler's Exhibition, Flemish Gallery, Pall Mall, London, 1874.

8.  third portrait
Portrait of Miss Florence Leyland (YMSM 107), which was eventually completed using Maud Franklin as a model. T. Watts Dunton wrote to JW, on 1 February 1878, pressing him to return Leyland's paintings (#06072).

9.  fourth painting
The Three Girls (YMSM 88) was never completed.

10.  17th of August / 76
Leyland had written, 'I don't think I shall be in town again for some time - probably not before you start for Venice - so when you have finished the dining room you had better write and let me know how much more I owe you.' (letter to JW, 17 August 1876, #02569).