The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02565
Date: 8 November 1872
Author: Frederick Richards Leyland[1]
Place: Liverpool
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L101
Document Type: ALS

Speke Hall

8th Nov 1872

Dear Jimmy,

I would have written you before but that I have been so worried and anxious as to arrangements at the end of my partnership[2]. I have had a hard battle but have come out of it victorious in every [p. 2] point and at the end of the year down comes the brass plate at present on the door and my own flag hoisted instead: - the name of Bibby and all belonging to them consigned to the limbo of forgotten things.

I am glad you are working on the picture of the three Girls[3] and I daresay your late work at life size portraits[4] you [p. 3] will find has done you good and my own martyrdom[5] not been in vain.

I have told John[6] to pack the picture[7] and send it to you. Doubtless you will get it with this.

Howell[8] has just sent me down a very fine Rembrandt[9] head - not so fine as mine, but still very very fine. -

Tom Layland[10] has just been looking at it, has tested the [p. 4] colour as usual by comparison with his closed fist and pronounces it first rate, even going so far as to wish he could do like it.

I had hoped to see you before Xmas but I see you are busy[11] and must wait until then

Yours ever

Fred R Leyland

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

2.  partnership
On January 1, 1873, the Bibby Line became the Leyland Line: twenty-one steamers and the tug Camel were transferred to Frederick Leyland & Co. According to Chandler, George, Liverpool Shipping: A Short History, 1960, p. 88, Leyland did ignore the Bibby name and trade under his own, but he continued to use the plain red Bibby house flag. Cf. Leyland to D. G. Rossetti, 11 November 1872 in Fennell, Francis L., ed., The Rossetti-Leyland Letters, Athens, Ohio, 1978, letter 45, p. 35: 'I have been most anxious and worried these last few months in disputes with my partners as to what is to be done on the approaching termination of our partnership on the 31st December. / However, I have at last carried my point and got quietly rid of them and they leave me in full possession on the 1st January when I shall hoist my own flag and carry on the business in my own name. / I know you will be glad to hear it; and still more that I have succeeded in dictating my own terms.'

3.  three Girls
Probably The Three Girls (YMSM 88).

4.  portraits
This may refer to JW's commission from Leyland to paint a series of portraits of his family (see YMSM 95-97, 106-111).

5.  martyrdom
A reference to Leyland's sittings for Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland (YMSM 97).

6.  John
Presumably a servant.

7.  picture
Probably Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 113) in JW to Leyland, [2 November 1872], #08794, JW asks to borrow 'Mrs. Leyland's little "Nocturne."'

8.  Howell
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

9.  Rembrandt
Leyland is known to have owned two works by (or then attributed to) Rembrandt: Head of a Young Man and Portrait of the Artist (see Christie Manson & Woods, 'The Valuable Collection of Ancient & Modern Pictures of Frederick Richards Leyland, Esq, deceased,' sale catalogue, 28 May 1892, cat. nos 70 and 71 respectively). This could be a reference to the former.

10.  Tom Layland
Thomas Layland (b. ca 1838), architect and surveyor [more].

11.  busy
In #08794 JW had said: 'I do not think I shall come myself to Speke until about Christmas when I may come down with Freddie.'