The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Cowan, Sophy
Record 18 of 22

System Number: 04726
Date: 15 April 1898
Author: Rosalind Birnie Philip[1]
Place: Paris
Recipient: John James Cowan[2]
Place: [Edinburgh]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler P366
Document Type: ALS[3]

110 Rue du Bac.

April 15th 1898.

Dear Mr. Cowan.

I am writing for Mr. Whistler who has come back again very tired from the studio, and gone to bed. Indeed he says I am to tell you that he seems to be just about where he was when you were here! So that is not very brilliant for him.

He seems to think that change of air when he can [p. 2] take it, perhaps in the South, will be the only way to get effectually rid of this influenza which he insists he brought with him from London!

Miss Peck's picture[4], you will be pleased to hear he at length considers rather beautiful! - which he thinks is admitting a lot

So that you probably will see it after all in London, in May.

He means to send also the little panel[5] "que Monsieur Wistlère avait malicieusement détruit" .... with appropriate quotations for the catalogue!

But this you are to keep as yet as a secret - and he will keep the panel for you! Though he thinks it will have to go [p. 3] all over America first in order to further cement this unatural affection between John Bull and Brother Jonathan!

In the meanwhile though, he hopes you will see your clergyman friend[6], the Baronet's[7] neighbour, and give him a dose of the Avocat General's[8] conclusions, and then tell us all about it - (you will see Mr. Cowan that I am writing at dictation) -

He says your letter is very nice and of course its alright what you say about the Nocturnes[9] and one of the heads[10].

Now do find out he says who Reid sold the "Furred Jacket"[11] to, and the what price he got for it. Another Scothman has since confirmed the fact that Reid has sold the picture - and it is curious that he takes [p. 4] such a time in sending the information himself!

You were going to find out also the relative prices of the "Piano"[12] & the "Ice"[13] pictures -

He thinks that that is all for to-day as he is very tired again, so he sends his compliments to Mrs. Cowan[14] and his kindest regards to you both.

Yours sincerely,

R. Birnie-Philip.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  Rosalind Birnie Philip
Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more].

2.  John James Cowan
John James Cowan (1846-1936), paper manufacturer and collector [more]; see his reply, #02932.

3.  ALS
Written on deep-bordered mourning paper.

4.  Miss Peck's picture
Portrait of Miss Marion Peck (YMSM 439).

5.  little panel
Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408). JW was obliged to deface the picture (see below)

6.  détruit
'Que...détruit', Fr., that Mr Whistler has maliciously destroyed.

7.  your clergyman friend
Not identified.

8.  Baronet's
Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more].

9.  Avocat General's
JW had a lengthy dispute with Eden over Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408). On St Valentine's Day, 1894, with the picture nearing completion, Eden sent JW a cheque for 100 guineas. However JW was dissatisfied with the portrait and refused to hand it over and Eden commenced legal proceedings in response. In December 1897, JW, on appeal, was permitted by the Cour de Cassation to keep the picture provided that he defaced it and did not make use of it.

10.  Nocturnes
Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Chelsea Snow (YMSM 174).

11.  heads
Brown and Gold: Lillie 'In our Alley!' (YMSM 464)..

12.  Reid sold the "Furred Jacket"
A reference to Alexander Reid (1854-1936), Glasgow dealer [more]. Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181) had in fact been been sold by the Glasgow dealers Craibe Angus and Son to William Burrell (1861-1958), ship-owner and collector [more].

13.  Piano
Cowan had bought At the Piano (YMSM 24), in March 1897.

14.  "Ice"
The Thames in Ice (YMSM 36), bought by Cowan in March 1897.

15.  Mrs. Cowan
Sophy Cowan (b. ca 1850), née Gillespie, wife of J. J. Cowan [more].