UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 06073
Date: [2 February 1878][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Walter Theodore Watts-Dunton[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler W70
Document Type: ALd[3]


My dear Watts -

I got your note[4] the other day and thought you would have looked in some morning before now - that I might thank you for your evident kind wish to be of friendly service to me - but my dear fellow dont interfere with Leyland[5]! he is astounding! he must not be stopped - he must go on! he is achieving the step from the ridiculous to the sublime! -

He promised me a whipping and sends me his gas bill[6]!! - Mon cher these things are not done every day! - [p. 2] Leyland and his gas bill are the joy of London - and shall you rashly interfere! -

and now Macaenas[7] [sic] careering from Counting House to County Court, with commercial enterprise in his eye and writs and gas bills in his pocket and the Painter impoverished by his Patron pleading for money - are we to be robbed of this tableau because rash man you are pleased to interfere! -

You are like the sapeur for whom, rien n'est sacré[8] - and no table in town would forgive you! -

No my dear Watts tell Leyland that I am dull to all proposals and that he cannot have sketch drawing or etching for which he has never shown either appreciation or care during these many years -

Now it is far from my wish to deprive Leyland of any real right - so th The portraits of himself and Mrs Leyland[9] I have witheld [sic] because of certain remarks in one of his letters[10] impugning their artistic value and while a more whereas I do not acknowledge that a picture once bought merely belongs to the man who pays the money, but that [it] is really the property of the whole [p. 3] world, I consider that I have a right to exhibit such picture that the its character may be guaranteed by brother artists - therefor[e] it was my intention to show in a public exposition these two paintings this spring and thereupon restore them to their chance purchaser -

With reference to the portrait of Miss Florence Leyland[11] I have to say that it is incomplete simply because the young lady[12] has not sufficiently sat for it - had that as for as she is not[13] to sit for it again, I must do what I can to make it as worthy of me as possible - when this is at all accomplished he shall have it -

My stock in trade is my reputation & it is not represented by Leylands money and In short I propose to hand him over these 3 pictures very shortly - As to the third[14] he has made it impossible for me to pay him back the money at present - I am too poor to do so, but directly I can I [p. 1] will return[15] him the 400 - either in a lump or by installments


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Notes:

1.  [2 February 1878]
The final version of this letter was dated 2 February [1878] (#09577).

2.  Theodore Watts-Dunton
Walter Theodore Watts (later Watts-Dunton) (1832-1914), solicitor, novelist and poet [more].

3.  ALd
This was a draft for the final letter (#09577).

4.  your note
Probably #06072.

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

6.  his gas bill
JW's reply to a request from Messrs Verity for payment of bills incurred in Leyland's house was dated 4 January 1878 (#05965).

7.  Macaenas
Gaius (Cilnius) Maecenas (d. 8 BC), Roman politician, known for his patronage of the arts [more].

8.  sapeur for whom, rien n'est sacré
Fr., sapper (soldier who digs trenches) for whom nothing is sacred; this allusion is not clear.

9.  portraits of himself and Mrs Leyland
Arrangement in Black: Portrait of F. R. Leyland (YMSM 97), and Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland (YMSM 106).

10.  one of his letters
Probably F. R. Leyland to JW, #02598.

11.  portrait of Miss Florence Leyland
Portrait of Miss Florence Leyland (YMSM 107). The model who posed for the completion of this portrait was Mary Maud Franklin (1857- ca 1941), JW's model and mistress [more].

12.  young lady
Florence Leyland (1859-1921), later Mrs Prinsep [more].

13.  as she is not ... shall have it
Words added between lines.

14.  third
JW miscounted, and probably means The Three Girls (YMSM 88).

15.  will return ...
The remainder of the text is written in the space at the top of page one.