The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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System Number: 12138
Date: [8/10 February 1875][1]
Author: Frederick Fox[2]
Place: London
Recipient: JW
Place: [London]
Repository: Library of Congress
Call Number: Manuscript Division, Pennell-Whistler Collection
Document Type: MsD[3]

In April 1874 Fredk Fox 418 Britannia Terrace Kings Road Chelsea Frame Maker & Decorator was instructed by Mr Whistler to inspect & see what repairs were necessary to the Gallery & to decorate same according to his designs[4] - Found the rain had come thro' & destroyed the ceiling & thro' the skylight at the end & destroyed the papering on the skylight -

The wall of the gallery had been some time back roughly distempered & covered with a morone [sic] cloth - The cloth was in bad condition dirty & full of nail holes

Took the cloth down - thoroughly washed & distempered the walls afresh - repaired the damaged paper in the skylight - the wans wainscotting [sic] had several coats of rough distemper on - dark brown - very unsightly[.] The wall was uncovered about 6 feet at the cloth - & having been frequently washed & distempered had run down the wall behind the cloth & on to the wainscot & presented [fol. 2] a very unsightly appearance - The walls & wainscotting all had to be washed & pummis [sic] stoned & with difficulty the incrustations were removed -

The wall had to be sized & red leaded as was necessary to have a body before coloring to prevent the stains of the distemper coming thro -

Mr Fox then colored the walls with 2 coats of Pink distemper & the ceiling with 1 coat & after Mr Whistler did not like the effect the color [sic] being too light. The ceiling was then done with 1 coat of brown distemper & the wall with 2 coats of pink grey distemper - The skylight was washed & had one coat of white paint - the panels underneath the sky light had 2 coats of paint - the panels grey pink - the [styles?] (round the panels) pink - they were f the mouldings round the panels were formerly gilt - but Mr Fox put 2 coats of color [sic] on the gilt - ([qy?] color - he forgets) -

Mr Fox had to stop the pain wainscotting before painting & the upper part of the [fol. 3] division he painted in 4 coats of White paint - & in the lower division he formed into 20 odd panels formed of 1½ inch moulding - He painted it with 3 coats of paint - [qy?] white with grey mouldings (forgets) (forgets) - the stairs in the gallery were all washed & had 3 coats of White paint[,] the room at the back of the Gallery - with skylight - had 2 coats of paint - primrose - [The?] & the paper on the walls distemp[er]ed - the paint in the room was formerly in middling condition - stone color - but the paper was dirty - the skylight had only formerly been whitewashed & was cracked & peeling off & very dirty - The low ceiling beneath the skylight had also to be scraped & painted with 2 coats of paint -

The pay box walls were also distempered by Mr Fox pink - They were formerly whitewashed & were [dirty?] dirty -

The repairs & painting occupied 2 months from 4 April to 4 June - on & off & Mr Fox's Bill[5] came to £30 odd pounds -

The place

Mr Fox could have reinstated the Cloth as it was with 3 men in a day & that would [fol. 4] have costs about 10/- or £1 outside - but was to replace the Cloth - hang 2 small doors that were taken down - & put some bolts on that were removed - There was no fitting to do but simply to put back the things in their places - The condition of the gallery & the other parts all considerably improved -

Mr Fox saw Mr Griffith[6] in the gallery on several occasions - three or four times - while the work was proceeding - he never made any remarks to Mr Fox about the painting - & indeed he never spoke to Mr Fox & Mr Fox never heard Mr Griffith make any remarks to anybody else about it -

The Lobby under the stairs was also washed & had 1 coat of white paint.-

The whole place was left in thorough repair - the only damage done was what was done by the wet coming thro' the roof again - & that Griffith has repaired himself

[verso of fol. 4:] 'Affidavit of Fox[7]'

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [8/10 February 1875]
Dated from JW to J. A. Rose, [7 February 1875], #11443, and A. M. Whistler to J. A. Rose, 8 February 1875, #11448.

2.  Frederick Fox
Frederick Fox, frame-maker and decorator [more]; see also references to Fox in JW to J. A. Rose, #11443, A. M. Whistler to J. A. Rose, #11448.

3.  MsD
Written in an unknown hand, possibly that of Lawson James McCreary, clerk to the solicitor, J. A. Rose [more]. '74' is written in another hand at the top of fols. 1, 3 and 4, and probably relates to Rose's collation of legal documents.

4.  designs
The designs for JW's first solo exhibition, Mr Whistler's Exhibition, Flemish Gallery, Pall Mall, London, 1874. JW took the gallery for a year at a rent of £315 per annum, payable in four instalments. The gallery was hung with maroon cloth but JW decided to redecorate it in primrose, pink-grey and brown distemper for his exhibition. In January 1875, Griffith requested that the gallery should be returned to its original state and repair work done (see E. C. Griffith to JW, #12154). However, JW admitted liability only for the rehanging of the cloth (#11442). Griffith replied, complaining that he was losing rent by the delay (#12145). On 29 January, he took legal proceedings against JW claiming back rent and costs of repair to the gallery (see E. C. Griffith to JW, #12140, and correspondence between JW and E. C. Griffith between 20 and 30 January 1875 (#11445, #12165, #01603, #11441, #12148, #11444).

5.  Bill
Not located.

6.  Mr Griffith
Capt. Edward Clifton Griffith, gallery landlord [more].

7.  Affidavit of Fox
Written in another hand.