The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 11869
Date: [27 August 1871][1]
Author: JW
Place: London
Recipient: Frederick Richards Leyland[2]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection, PWC 6B
Document Type: ALS

2 Lindsay Houses.


Dear Leyland -

This condition of letter writing is getting chronic! here is one more any how that I send of necessity. What a complication it has worked itself into! But after all I think it will be perfectly right and smooth in the end - You will hear from Howell[3] by this post that he has paid for the picture[4] - Poor fellow he came here last night in great trouble about the matter - and yet I think you will feel with me that he acted very simply and straightforwardly in the affair - You see I saw the picture first on the evening of the 22nd. - I [p. 2] came home, wrote my first letter[5] to you and posted it that night - The next morning that is the 23rd[6] we went again to the picture as I have explained to you knowing that you could only receive my letter late that afternoon (that is the 23rd). I wrote immediately on our return and had posted to you my second letter[7] which left consequently by that afternoon's post and should have been delivered to you at Speke[8] the first thing next morning, the 24th - Howell wrote also by the same post - So that these letters should reach you before you went to town to act at all in the matter -

Now on friday the 25th I receive your letter[9] dated the 24th which could only have left Liverpool after you ought to have had all our letters. In this you said that you were [p. 3] anxious to have the picture and had sent Howell the money - That evening (friday evening) the Dr.[10] and I went to Howell's and he told me that it was all right sure enough and that you had sent with the money the order to pack off the picture to Speke at once - The next evening that is last night, Howell turns up again in dire bewilderment with the second letter from you to ask my advice in the misadventure - He writes by this post and will tell you that he had immediately upon receiving the cheque paid for the picture and therefore he has not no longer[11] the money to return at once!

So he asked me whether I thought he ought immediately to call on Thomas Baring[12] or some other swell, take him in a cab to see the picture and sell it to him and send you the money - or whether you had not better see it - I [p. 4] said that most certainly it would be right to first send it down to you - for inasmuch as the harm was already done - that is the 350 had been paid away and the picture was out - his power of returning the money would be the same ten days from now as it would be tomorrow - that is to say that he could just as soon sell the picture on its return from Speke as he could before it went down - This being the case you ought certainly to see the picture.

My view of it I have told you so minutely that there is no use going over it. Pinte[13] says, Howell tells me, that it is certainly a Velasquez and safe for 1000 gs. if not 2000 - so that there is no great harm done - for they say they can sell it tomorrow - and meanwhile you will have seen it -

With kindest regards to all
Ever yours

J. A. McN. Whistler

I will write in two three days about the day of my leaving[14] for Speke -

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1.  [27 August 1871]
A sequence of dates is mentioned in the letter, including Friday 25th, which occurred in August 1871, and corresponds to other references to Leyland and Velasquez (Merrill, Linda, The Peacock Room. A Cultural Biography, New Haven and London, 1998, p. 123; and see below).

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

3.  Howell
Charles Augustus ('Owl') Howell (1840? - d.1890), entrepreneur [more].

4.  picture
Probably Formerly attributed to Velazquez, The Corregidor of Madrid (whereabouts unknown) (z22), then attributed to Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velázquez (1599-1660), painter [more].

5.  first letter

6.  that is the 23rd
Inserted above line.

7.  second letter
Probably #11867.

8.  Speke
Speke Hall, Leyland's country home near Liverpool.

9.  letter

10.  Dr.
Probably William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), physician, JW's brother [more].

11.  no longer
Inserted above line.

12.  Thomas Baring
Thomas Baring (1799-1873), financier and MP for Huntington [more].

13.  Pinte
Raphael Pinti (1826-1881), art dealer and picture restorer [more].

14.  leaving
JW went to Speke in October 1871 for an extended visit where he worked on Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs Frances Leyland (YMSM 106).