The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 07565
Date: 1 February 1875
Author: JW
Place: Liverpool[1]
Recipient: William Cleverly Alexander[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: British Museum, London
Call Number: Department of Prints, 1958-2-8-27
Document Type: ALS

[monogram:] FRL[3]

Speke Hall -
near Liverpool

Feb. 1. 1875 -

My dear Alexander -

Very many thanks for the kind promptness with which you answered my letter and advanced me the fifty pounds -

I am exceedingly sensible of all the friendliness you and Mrs. Alexander[4] have always shown me and I can only hope that my pictures may give you one half the pleasure your warm [p. 2] sympathy makes me feel.

The etchings and drypoints are getting on famously - I have quite got back into my old delight in the work and think I shall have some pretty things[5] to show you soon -

But the Mezzotinted plates[6] have not come down to me yet - However I am expecting them every day - And that reminds me - the little frame and board with wires for squaring has not arrived yet though it may tomorrow. Thank Mrs Alexander for her trouble and ask if it went by train or Post.

Ever yours

J A McN.Whistler

Speke Hall near Liverpool

Monday Feb. 3 1875

[p. 3] Received from W. C. Alexander, Esq. the sum of fifty pounds £50 - 0 - 0 - on account of portrait[7] of Miss Alexander -

J. A. McN. Whistler -

[p. 4] 'Whistler 1/2 75[8]'

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1.  Liverpool
JW was staying with Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more] and his family, between January and March 1875.

2.  William Cleverly Alexander
William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), banker and patron [more].

3.  FRL
The embossed monogram of F. R. Leyland.

4.  Mrs. Alexander
Rachel Agnes Alexander (b. ca 1837, m. 1861), née Lucas, wife of W. C. Alexander [more].

5.  pretty things
JW was working on five etchings of Speke Hall and the vicinity: Speke Hall, No.2 (K.143), Shipbuilder's Yard (K.146), The Little Forge (K.147), Speke Shore (K.144), and The Dam Wood (K.145).

6.  plates
No mezzotints done by JW at this time are known. The reference to equipment for squaring up suggests plans to enlarge or copy a painting. JW planned copies of several portraits, in subsequent years. For instance, Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more], acquired the copyright of Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137), and organised subscriptions for a mezzotint (see #02785). It was engraved by Richard Josey (1840-1906), reproductive engraver [more], and published by H. Graves and Co. The first proofs were delivered on 2 December 1878 (Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908, I, pp. 226-27).

7.  portrait
Miss May Alexander (YMSM 127).

8.  Whistler 1/2 75
Written in another hand.