The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 00755
Date: 12 November 1901
Author: John James Cowan[1]
Place: Edinburgh
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler C256
Document Type: ALS



12th Novr 1901

My dear Whistler,

Did I not stand by you in sending you these two pictures[2] last summer, and in giving you all the information I possessed bearing on the subject?

I might have hung on to the pictures, sending you photographs as you first suggested, but I wanted to help you to get your rights, and to show my faith in you.

I wonder if many other men would have sent them to you? [p. 2] I don't think Mr Freer's telegram[3] amazing! He, at all events, is a wise man, for he is getting value for every cent.

Of course I have done splendidly from the commercial point of view, but shall always feel a poor creature, when I think of Studd[4] (?) who, I am told, said "he would sell his house, before he sold a Whistler."

I am grateful to you for telling Freer of my possibly selling, and glad that the [p. 3] pictures should go to a friend of your's.

My only thought in calling Reid[5] a "poor beggar," was caused by the knowledge that The McNeill was on the war-path & after him.

And as to the "Ass," you must look on me as the prize-animal

Firstly for buying the questionable canvas and panel

Secondly for sending them to you, - and perhaps

Thirdly for failing to clothe myself in the lion's skin [p. 4] at your request. But I must stop my braying.

Write again to me, even if you don't write to Reid!
Always your's with gratitude, admiration & affectionate regard

John J. Cowan

I may perhaps give you a look-in towards end of next week - I have to be in town for 2 or 3 days.

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1.  John James Cowan
John James Cowan (1846-1936), paper manufacturer and collector [more]. This is a reply to JW's letter of 10 November 1901, #00754.

2.  two pictures
Alice Butt (2) (YMSM 438) and The Bridesmaid (YMSM 487). See J. J. Cowan to JW, #00745, letter dated 30 June 1901.

3.  Mr Freer's
Charles Lang Freer (1856-1919), industrialist, collector and founder of the Freer Gallery of Art [more]. JW had advised Freer to buy The Thames in Ice (YMSM 36) and Rose and Silver: Portrait of Mrs Whibley (M.1415) from Cowan. (JW to J. J. Cowan, #00751). Freer agreed (see R. Birnie Philip to C. L. Freer, #04819, and C. L. Freer to JW, #01526).

4.  Studd
Arthur ('Peter') Haythorne Studd (1863-1919), painter and collector [more]. Studd owned several works by JW, including Nocturne: Black and Gold - The Fire Wheel (YMSM 169).

5.  Reid
Alexander Reid (1854-1936), Glasgow dealer [more]. Reid seems to have received works stolen from JW's studio in Paris before July 1901 (see JW to J. J. Cowan, #00746). Cowan had purchased Alice Butt (2) (YMSM 438) and The Bridesmaid (YMSM 487) from him in April 1900 for £450 and £135 respectively but later became suspicious of the signature. JW also believed that the pictures had been worked on by someone else and was upset at Cowan's reluctance to pursue Reid (J. J. Cowan to JW, #00752).