The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: Cowan, Sophy
Record 10 of 22

System Number: 00707
Date: [July/August 1895?][1]
Author: JW
Place: Paris
Recipient: John James Cowan[2]
Place: [Edinburgh]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C208
Document Type: ALS

110. Rue du Bac, Paris

My dear Mr. Cowan -

No things have not gone well with us. My wife[3] has had a sorry time with this cruel wintry summer - and I have been in much anxiety and trouble -

It is all right about the picture[4] - much back work has been thrust upon [p. 2] me because of very long absence - to interfere with the quiet I require in order to put it in the perfect state, in which I wish you to see it -

Soon I will manage all this and then you will be the better pleased -

To your many proofs of kind regard and sympathy there will be to add but a little further waiting -

With best remembrances to Mrs. Cowan[5] and yourself, believe me
Always sincerely Yours

J McN Whistler

Did you see the latest news of the Eden[6] affair in the Pall Mall of the 5th? -

Pretty good - wasn't it?

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [July/August 1895?]
Dated from the reference to Eden, Beatrix Whistler's illness, and the weather - it was unusually cold at the end of July and into August (see below).

2.  John James Cowan
John James Cowan (1846-1936), paper manufacturer and collector [more].

3.  wife
Beatrix Whistler (1857-1896), née Beatrice Philip, artist [more], was ill with cervical cancer.

4.  picture
Arrangement in Grey and Green: Portrait of J. J. Cowan (YMSM 402). The picture was never finished although he gave JW sixty sittings between 1893 and 1900. See Cowan, John J., From 1846-1932, Edinburgh, 1933, pp. 156-57, 168-73.

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

6.  Eden
JW's dispute with Sir William Eden (1849-1915), painter and collector [more], over possession of Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden (YMSM 408), started on 14 February 1894, when, with the picture seemingly nearing completion, Eden sent JW a 'Valentine', a cheque for 100 guineas. JW thought this inadequate, and said that the work was incomplete and he was dissatisfied with it. He refused to hand over the portrait, on the grounds that it was the artist's right to withhold a picture in such circumstances. When Eden instituted legal proceedings in November 1894 in order to retrieve the portrait, JW returned all monies that had been paid to him. The Eden v Whistler trial opened at the Civil Tribunal on 26 February 1895. The verdict on 13 March went against JW, who appealed to the Cour de Cassation. The case went through several further stages and was finally resolved in 1900, in JW's favour. A series of letters and articles had appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette in March, including #08095 and #11020, but JW's reference has not been located.