UNIVERSITY of GLASGOW

The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: White House, lease
Record 34 of 44

System Number: 01745
Date: [23/25 May 1878?][1]
Author: JW
Place: [London]
Recipient: Edward William Godwin[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Glasgow University Library
Call Number: MS Whistler G111
Document Type: ALS


Dear Godwin -

My impression is that I have fought very much this battle by myself - and that my Architect leaves me to discuss matters which are both disagreable [sic] and foreign as best I may with the ennemy [sic] - Now I have been twice down to the depths of the City and prattled uselessly with the Webbs[3] - and came to you and settled with you that you should make an appointment for seeing them - since when I hear no more until you send me the news [p. 2] that the Webbs (possibly disturbed in their mind at hearing nothing further about the promised appointment) have again refused to pay -

I have been to Grosvenor Gardens three times - I have had an interview with Sir James Hogg[4] - I have seen Graham[5] - I have been refused an interview with Vulliamy[6] - and in short I have done what I might have fancied you not only could do much better but what certainly had I been the Architect I should never have left an incompetent client to deal with -

The matter is a professional one - the difficulties should be settled by professional men - The Surveyor of the Board of Works should have been fought by the Architect who built the house - not by the client who is necessarily simply filled with confidence in his architect and otherwise "out of it!" - - Vulliamy takes you into his professional sympathy (to your clients comparative discredit -) and makes you certain promises which he deliberately breaks - And I am left with the annoyance and burden of the outrage to you - It is not my line to refuse any occasion to fight - and fighting I am all the while - but it dawns upon me that I am assuming [p. 3] an absurd role and that I might as well have presumed to build the house as to pretend to save it!

Useless for me to say "I am sick of the whole concern" which seems to be the phrase in which all in their turn have taken refuge - but if Architect will not fight Architect - and business men are to be met by amateurs - and the House is to go to Hell, why to Hell it must go -

I am obliged to run down to my Mother[7] and shall not be back until Sunday - but will accept any appointment you may make with Webb - for Monday afternoon -

Ever Yours

J A McN. Whistler


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Notes:

1.  [23/25 May 1878?]
Dated from sequence of letters about JW's new house, the White House in Tite Street (see below).

2.  Edward William Godwin
Edward William Godwin (1833-1886), architect and designer [more].

3.  Webbs
George Webb (b. ca 1835), of G. and W. Webb. lawyer [more], and William Webb (b. ca 1851), of G. and W. Webb, lawyer [more], JW's solicitors. Two letters from JW to the firm describe the dispute with the Metropolitan Board of Works over the granting of the lease (#06160, #06163).

4.  Sir James Hogg
Sir James Macnaghten McGarel Hogg (1823-1890), first Baron Magheramorne [more].

5.  Graham
Possibly William Graham (1817-1885), MP and collector [more].

6.  Vulliamy
George John Vulliamy (1817-1886), Superintending Architect with the Metropolitan Board of Works, London [more].

7.  Nightingale
Benjamin Ebenezer Nightingale (b. 1838), builder [more].

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