System Number: 09300
Date: [February 1876]
Place: Speke Hall
Recipient: Murray Marks
Repository: Victoria and Albert Museum, National Art Library
Call Number: Reserve Collection, Q.4, 5.
Document Type: ALS
Speke Hall -
My dear Marks -
You have several times said you would like to have a small picture of mine - Now here is a chance - There is a Nocturne in blue & silver just finished and at present in the drawing room at my place. 2. Lindsey Houses - Chelsea - If you like to go down there any morning this week the servant will show it to you -
There are three pictures in the room - but the one I mean is on the floor leaning forward - don't touch it or it might [p. 2] fall over - unless they have hung it - It is a sea piece - large - and I think it one my very finest - perhaps the most brilliant - Fishing smacks putting off - at night - Moonlight - I want 300. gs - for it - But go and see it whether you are wishing to buy or not - The other two smaller Nocturnes on the walls are not finished -
Write me a line after you have been -
J A McN. Whistler -
The original letter is bound into a copy of Williamson, George Charles, Murray Marks and his Friends, London and New York, 1919, facing p. 48 (V&A Reserve Collection: Q. 4).
4. Speke Hall
The Liverpool home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more]. Leyland's embossed monogram, 'FRL', appears on the sheet, after the words 'Now here' in the first paragraph.
5. Nocturne in blue & silver
A painting 'of moonlight on the sea [...] with a few fishing-boats pushing out from the shore' was described by W. M. Rossetti on 19 February 1876 as being 'lately completed', [W. M. Rossetti] 'Notes And News,' Academy, 1876, vol. 9, no. 198, p. 180]. This was probably Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor (YMSM 100), which was bought by Alfred Chapman (1839-1917), engineer and collector [more], of Liverpool (c.f. Chapman's letter of 5 July 1876, #00576). A similar subject, Green and Grey: The Oyster Smacks, Evening (YMSM 99), has not been located, but the title suggests that it was not a Nocturne. JW also wrote from Speke Hall about his Nocturnes to Cyril Flower (#01621).
F. R. Leyland, suggested the term 'Nocturne', which JW first used at the 6th Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil, Dudley Gallery, London, 1872 in November 1872. He exhibited Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Southampton Water (YMSM 117) as 'Nocturne in Grey and Gold' with Nocturne in Blue and Silver (YMSM 118) (cat. nos. 187, 237; see #08794). Extant Nocturnes vary from 27.9 x 46.4 cms (Nocturne: Westminster - Grey and Gold (YMSM 144)) to 68.5 x 135.5 cms (Cremorne Gardens, No. 2 (YMSM 164)). Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor (YMSM 100), which may be the 'small picture' mentioned in this letter, is actually above the average size, at 50.3 x 86.2 cms. The 'two smaller Nocturnes' therefore might be any of a dozen or more known Nocturnes, or an equal number of untraced pictures. These possible candidates include two of the smallest Nocturnes, which may still have been in JW's studio, Nocturne: Westminster - Grey and Gold (YMSM 144) and the darkly atmospheric Nocturne: Grey and Silver (YMSM 156) which measured 27.9 x 46.4 cms, and 31.1 x 51.4 cms respectively.