The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02598
Date: 27 July 1877
Author: Frederick Richards Leyland[1]
Place: Liverpool
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L132
Document Type: ALS[2]

'No. 21'[3]

Woolton Hall

27 July 1877


I quite appreciate your "artistic scruples" to deliver the two portraits[4] which you consider finished and I must say these scruples are uncommonly well founded. I am however willing to receive them as they are, as also the third portrait in its unfinished state.

As respects the fourth painting[5] it is difficult to understand what are the conditions you find necessary for its completion.

You have been paid for it nine years ago and however imaginative the work may be, it is high time now that it [p. 2] should be delivered if it is ever to be finished.

Your proposal that I should wait for its completion and then let you sell it is quite unnecessary. I can do that myself.

As to the work at my dining room[6], you chose to accept £1000 for it rather than contest the matter and I am not disposed to re-open the question. At the time I would have been quite willing to refer the amount to arbitration.

I don't know what are the expressions in my letter of August 1876[7] which you construe into an offer to leave you to name your own price, but I am sure that nothing I ever said or wrote to you can fairly bear that construction.

At the time named I [p. 3] did not even know that you contemplated the elaborate scheme of decoration you ultimately adopted.

As to your being ordered out of my house, I can only say I was told so at the time by my wife and children[8]; and, notwithstanding your denial, I fully believe it is true -

Yours truly

Fred. R. Leyland

J M. Whistler Eq

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

2.  ALS
This is Leyland's reply to JW's letter of 25 July 1877 (#02596). It is written on mourning paper.

3.  'No. 21'
Written in JW's hand in top left corner, in pencil. 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 of the patron-painter relationship, include #02588 and #02589.

4.  two portraits
The two completed works were Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland (YMSM 97) and Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland (YMSM 106), and the incomplete one, Portrait of Miss Florence Leyland (YMSM 107). T. Watts Dunton wrote to JW, on 1 February 1878, pressing him to return Leyland's paintings (#06072).

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

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

7.  letter of August 1876
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).

8.  wife and children
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), shipowner, his wife Frances, and their children Frederick Dawson, Fanny, Florence and Elinor.