The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 02932
Date: [20/30 April 1898][1]
Author: John James Cowan[2]
Place: Edinburgh
Recipient: JW
Place: [Paris]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler LB 2/65, 67
Document Type: MsLcf[3]


38 West Register St.

Dear Mr Whistler.

I'm sorry I have not written you sooner. I made a special pilgrimage to Glasgow & was fortunate in finding Reid[4]. I also saw the "Furred Jacket"[5] which is the property of Mr Burrell[6] a Glasgow ship-owner, & is presently lent to the Glasgow Exhibition[7]. I think the price was £1500, but am not certain. I believe Reid spoke of £1200 & £800 for the "Piano"[8] & the "Thames in Ice"[9] pictures. He assured me that no separate price for each picture was named to him when he bought them. He gave the sum asked for the two, knowing I think that Kennedy[10] had previously tried to effect a reduction in price. The vendor[11] must have known he was doing wrong for he said "Don't say anything about the pictures before my wife"!

Last night I received a note from Lavery[12] asking the loan of these two pictures for the [p. 2] Skating Club Show[13], in accordance with your wish. I shall be glad to send them, so if you can send me anything to help fill the gaps I shall be glad!

Many thanks for what you kindly say about the Nocturne[14], Head[15] & "little panel"[16] I hope to see the latter of Miss Peck [...]

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [20/30 April 1898]
The sequence of letters in JW's letter book would have suggested a date in the second half of May 1898. However, this is a reply to a letter from R. Birnie Philip to J. J. Cowan, 15 April 1898, #04726. It may be that the correspondence was collected and copied later.

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

3.  MsLcf
Copy written in the hand of Rosalind Birnie Philip (1873-1958), JW's sister-in-law [more], with a note saying it is an extract from the original.

4.  Reid
Alexander Reid (1854-1936), Glasgow dealer [more].

5.  Furred Jacket
Arrangement in Black and Brown: The Fur Jacket (YMSM 181).

6.  Mr Burrell
William Burrell (1861-1958), ship-owner and collector [more].

7.  Glasgow Exhibition
37th Exhibition of Works of Modern Artists, Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Glasgow, 1898. The Fur Jacket was no. 537 in the exhibition catalogue.

8.  Piano
At the Piano (YMSM 24).

9.  Thames in Ice
The Thames in Ice (YMSM 36).

10.  Kennedy
Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), dealer with H. Wunderlich and Co., New York [more]. Kennedy was unsuccessful in his bid to purchase At the Piano and the Thames in Ice during the early months of 1897.

11.  vendor
The vendor was Francis Seymour Haden (1818-1910), surgeon and etcher, JW's brother-in-law [more]. Thus it is unsurprising that Haden hoped to hide the sale from his wife, Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more].

12.  Lavery
John Lavery (1856-1941), painter [more]. Exhibition of International Art, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, London, 1898.

13.  Skating Club Show
Exhibition of International Art, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, London, 1898. Only The Thames in Ice (YMSM 36) was exhibited (cat. no. 175).

14.  Nocturne
Nocturne: Grey and Gold - Chelsea Snow (YMSM 174).

15.  Head
Brown and Gold: Lillie 'In our Alley!' (YMSM 464).

16.  little panel
Portrait of Miss Marion Peck (YMSM 439).