The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11494
Date: [1871/1876][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Walter Greaves[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 9/641
Document Type: TLc

Dear Walter -

I hoped to have got in yesterday but was unable - and this morning I have not a moment to spare - but what I wanted to say is this - The Doctor[3] mentioned accidentally that you spoke of painting a blue picture of your sister, Mrs. Ranger [4]- Now my dear boy - just reflect for a minute - remember what I said about Harry's picture[5] - and don't let my own pet pupil unconsciously do what he would be indignant if another were to attempt - for you know Walter my picture of little Miss Leyland[6] in blue cashmire [sic] and velvet - in short, the arrangement in blue - you know how jolly it is - and of course I shall paint it directly I have time. Of course I know it is quite natural that you and Harry should see Nature as I have made her known to you - and after all that is quite right - but in this case I daresay it was mere thoughtlessness - and perhaps too the Doctor misunderstood - There - I must cut now - If I can I shall run in to-night.

Affectionately your friend,

J. A. Mc.N. Whistler

[butterfly signature]

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1.  [1871/1876]
The earliest drawing relating to the portrait of Elinor Leyland (see below) appear to date from 1871/73 (see M.519-21, M.717). The subject was further discussed in a letter to Greaves which unfortunately is also undated, but likewise could date from as early as 1871 (#11468). However, this letter was dated c. 1875 by Pocock, Tom, Chelsea Reach: the Brutal Friendship of Whistler and Walter Greaves, London, 1970, pp. 105-106). The latest date possible is October 1876, when relations with her father, F. R. Leyland, deteriorated rapidly, and JW could no longer envisage completing the portrait using her as model.

2.  Walter Greaves
Walter Greaves (1846-1930), boatman and painter [more].

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

4.  Mrs. Ranger
Emily ('Eliza') Greaves (b. ca 1842), model [more]. As Pocock says, 'in a rare moment of rebelliousness, Walter painted Eliza in a long blue dress ... At first the verdigris blue he had bought in Battersea looked magnificent but then, as he said years later, "It never did us any good to go against Mr. Whistler, for that verdigris blue turned green after all." Indeed the finished picture was entitled W. Greaves, The Green Dress, Tate Gallery (z75). Greaves' portrait is now in the Tate Gallery, London (Pocock, Tom, Chelsea Reach: the Brutal Friendship of Whistler and Walter Greaves, London, 1970, p. 106, repr. f. p. 49).

5.  Harry's picture
Henry Greaves (1843-1904), boat builder and painter [more].

6.  picture of little Miss Leyland
The Blue Girl: Portrait of Miss Elinor Leyland (YMSM 111). JW later developed the composition in The Blue Girl: Maud Franklin (YMSM 112) and The Blue Girl: Portrait of Connie Gilchrist (YMSM 207).