The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02611
Date: [July 1877/June 1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Arthur Lasenby Liberty[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler L145
Document Type: ALS

My dear Mr Liberty -

I am horribly sorry about this business[3] - and you really must do something for me in the matter - Never mind the odd shillings - of course I must bear all expenses - but there has come upon me at the moment such a crowd of affairs that it will take a couple of weeks at least to meet every thing - and you know you forgot to let me know as you have hitherto done beforehand so that I might be prepared, - and when this dreadful little bit of paper[4] [p. 2] was left I couldn't make the name out at all -

I enclose it that you may see - or I should have written at once -

I do trust you will not have been very greatly inconvenienced - A client[5] of mine who is out of town, returns this week and yours will of course be the very first claim attended to - All this annoyance is the result of that confounded Peacock Room[6], where I had no 'business contract'!

Very truly Yrs

J A McN. Whistler

96. Cheyne Walk -

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1.  [July 1877/June 1878]
This letter must date from after the completion of Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178) in July 1877 and before JW moved to the White House in July 1878.

2.  Arthur Lasenby Liberty
Arthur Lasenby Liberty (1843-1917), designer, founder of Liberty and Co. [more].

3.  business
JW was a regular customer of Liberty's Oriental Warehouse at 218 Regent Street, and owed Liberty £78. 1s. 1d (#11926; see also #02612, #02613). Liberty apparently allowed JW further credit for by 14 September 1878 there were three bills outstanding (see #08740). Meanwhile JW was preoccupied with preparations for his libel suit against John Ruskin (1819-1900), critic, social reformer and artist [more] which took place on 25-26 November 1878. JW won the case but was awarded only derisory damages of a farthing towards his legal costs. As a result, his already stretched finances reached a crisis point. He spent the early months of 1879 staving off his creditors until a petition was filed for his bankruptcy on 9 May (#08895).

4.  bit of paper
This has not been located.

5.  client

6.  Peacock Room
Harmony in Blue and Gold: The Peacock Room (YMSM 178), JW's decorative scheme at 49 Prince's Gate, London, home of his patron Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more]. JW quarreled with Frederick Leyland over the cost of the scheme and received only half the 2000 guineas that he had expected, although he had spent the best part of a year on the work. This had a catastrophic effect on his finances. Leyland, as a chief creditor, later became a trustee of his estate. JW owed him £630 (#08886).