The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 09563
Date: [July 1876?][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Anna Matilda Whistler[2]
Place: [Hastings]
Repository: Concord Art Association, Concord, Massachusetts
Document Type: MSLc[3]

My own Dearest Mother -

I have not written to you for years, it seems to me, and at last I have fallen into utter silence; but yet I think of you constantly and wish always to go down to you and tell you how I love you. I am always your fond son. I wait, though, and have waited all along, that I may get the better of my work and be able to come to you and say that I am at length free and happy in the result of my labor. It is a long story, my dear mother, and one of these days you will know how courageous I have been in these past years of tribulation and heartbreaking discouragement. The reward I believe, though, I now feel dawning upon me, and if health be continued to me, I believe I shall have established for myself a proud reputation, in which you will rejoice with me, not because of the worldly glory alone, but because of the joy that you will see in me, as I produce lovely works, one after the other without any more of the old agony of doubt and uncertainty. I am now just beginning to enjoy, and never have I done such painting as I am now executing. Willie[4] may have told you, though I am still silent. Shortly, I hope, with a little more of your long forebearance and patience in me, I shall have paid all that is due, and you will be happy in knowing that I owe no one. Mr and Mrs [p. 2] Alexander[5] were here the other day, and are amazed and delighted with what they saw, and I am to paint either May[6], if she be able to stand, or little Gracie[7]. I enclose her letter, or rather no, I will send it next time, for I want it yet. She told me how she had seen you at Hastings, and how much better you were looking. The Leylands[8] are in town, and I daresay you will have heard from them. Henry Whitehouse[9] and his wife dined here the other night, and Willie was here to meet them. They were delighted, and I gave them a photograph[10] of you. The servants are perfect treasures. I am, thank Heaven, very well, and, my darling mother, hope very soon to run down to see you. I rejoice in your good health, and trust that these terrible east winds will cease.

Love to sis[11] and yourself, from your affectionate son,


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1.  [July 1876?]
AMW wrote to JW about the visit of the Whitehouses (see below), on 11 July 1876 (see #06559). She had moved to Hastings on 8 August 1875 (see #06555). No letter from JW to her for the period from 24 April 1867 (see #06529) appears to have survived.

2.  Anna Matilda Whistler
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more].

3.  MSLc
Copy in the Denys Sutton Papers, Glasgow University Library.

4.  Willie
William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

5.  Alexander
William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), banker and patron [more], and his wife Rachel Agnes Alexander, née Lucas.

6.  May
Agnes Mary Alexander (1862-1950), daughter of W. C. Alexander [more]. The earliest drawings relating to the portrait of Miss May Alexander (YMSM 127), appear to date from 1873/74 (see M.498-499).

7.  Gracie
Grace Alexander (b. 1867), youngest daughter of W. C. Alexander [more]. JW planned a Portrait of Miss Grace Alexander (YMSM 130), and made relevant sketches (M.506-507).

8.  Leylands
Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), shipowner, his wife Frances, and their children Frederick Dawson, Fanny, Florence and Elinor.

9.  Henry Whitehouse
James Henry Whitehouse (1833-1924), banker [more], and his wife Mary Whitehouse, née Schenck; see AMW to JW, 23 September 1856, #06476.

10.  sis
Deborah ('Debo' or 'Sis') Delano Haden (1825-1908), née Whistler, JW's half-sister [more].

11.  photograph
Possibly a photograph of AMW's portrait Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101). JW had several paintings photographed by John Robert Parsons (ca 1826-1909), painter, photographer, and art dealer, including AMW's portrait (see #07906, and #07614); also see AMW to Catherine Jane Palmer, 3-4 November 1871, #10071.