The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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Documents associated with: nocturne
Record 9 of 143

System Number: 09093
Date: [July/August 1874][1]
Author: JW
Place: Liverpool
Recipient: Cyril Flower[2]
Place: [London]
Repository: Published[3]
Document Type: PL

Speke Hall[4] - near Liverpool

Dear Flower,

Go round one morning to my place and look at a most lovely Nocturne in blue and silver[5] in the Drawing room. It differs from all the others and is perhaps the most brilliant of the lot. I want 300 gs. for it - but whether you go in for hanging it in your red room or not, never mind just go and look at it for I am delighted with it myself and want to show it. So you can take any friends with you. There are three Nocturnes in the Drawing room, but the one I mean is a large sea piece with some fishing smacks putting off - sky lovely and the sea of an immense distance and gleaming in the soft light of the moon. This description is almost fit for the papers! But faites pas attention, mon cher[6]! Go and see if ever you saw the sea painted like that! And the mystery of the whole thing - nothing apparently when you look at the canvas, but stand off - and I say the wet sands and the water falling on the beach in the blue glimmering of the moon - and the sheen of the whole thing - enfin[7] - then I have exhausted the subject. The other two Nocturnes are not finished.

The famous Lucy[8] will show you the pictures if my brother[9] the doctor is not there, for you know my poor Mother[10] has been very ill for a long time, though I am happy to say she is better but still confined to her bed. By the way get Tommy Jeckyll[11] to go with you, for I want him to see my pet Nocturne.

With kindest regards to all,
Ever yours,

J. A. McN. Whistler.

You know that Mitford[12] has taken a couple of houses in the Row and is my neighbour. I don't know him. I met your friend Gower[13] one day in town - he said he should like to see any pictures I had, perhaps he would go with you. Anyhow write us a line and tell me how you like it.

The frame[14] it is stuck in is not its own of course merely for the moment - it will be framed in pale green gold with blue pattern.

This document is protected by copyright.


1.  [July/August 1874]
This letter was written before September 1874, when Mitford and Swinburne were at a party at JW's home (Henderson, Philip, Swinburne: the Portrait of a Poet, London, 1974, p. 294; and see note below).

2.  Cyril Flower
Cyril Flower (1843-1907), barrister, Liberal MP, 1st Baron Battersea [more].

3.  Published
Quoted in Cohen, Lucy, Lady De Rothschild and Her Daughters, 1821-1931, London, 1935, pp. 198-99.

4.  Speke Hall
The home of Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892), ship-owner and art collector [more].

5.  Nocturne in blue and silver
Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Bognor (YMSM 100).

6.  faites pas attention, mon cher
Fr., do not pay attention, my dear fellow. This phrase was printed in italics, probably because it was in French, but possibly to indicate an underlined section.

7.  enfin
Fr., well. Printed in italics; see note above.

8.  Lucy
Lucy Slater (b. ca 1852) , née Manning, JW's servant at 2 Lindsey Row [more].

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

10.  Mother
Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), née McNeill, JW's mother [more]. She moved to Hastings for health reasons in 1875.

11.  Tommy Jeckyll
Thomas Jeckyll (1827-1881), architectural designer [more].

12.  Mitford
Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford (1837-1916), Lord Redesdale (1886), diplomat, Secretary of the Office of Works, and collector [more]. In December 1874, Mitford married Clementine Ogilvy and they lived near JW on Lindsey Row.

13.  Gower
Lord Ronald Sutherland Leveson Gower (1845-1916), youngest son of the 2nd Duke of Sutherland [more].

14.  frame
JW painted scale or feather patterns on his frames to co-ordinate with the colour of the paintings.