James McNeill Whistler collection in the University of Glasgow, Special Collections, [ca. 1830-1963.]

Whistler, James McNeill, b. 1834 d. 1903
Painter, Etcher
Active in Paris, France; London, England; Mass.

Collection size: 29 microfilm reels.

Collection Summary: 15 vol. of letterbooks containing original letters, drafts and copies written by Whistler, or copies written by third parties and family members, 1892-1950; voluminous correspondence with family, artists, patrons, collectors, publishers and others; notebooks and ledgers, containing lists of etchings, copper plates, cataloges of silver china, copies of letters, the Valparaiso notebook, and other notes and biographical information; exhibition catalogs, 1874-1903, for Whistler's one-man shows; annotated proofs of publications and unpublished writings by Whistler; the typescript of an unpublished manuscript, "Whistler's Mother," by Kate McDiarmid, 1936; 25 v. of newspaper clippings compiled by and for Whistler, and by D.C. Thomson, J. W. Revillon, and A.P.A. Goodall; and photographs of Whistler, his family, friends, studios and homes, and of monuments to him and his family.

Also microfilmed are abstracts of both the letterbooks and correspondence, a list of the books owned by Whistler and copied from the University of Glasgow Library catalog; and a list of photographs in the collection, including five series not on microfilm.

Biographical/Historical Note: Painter, etcher; born Lowell, Mass. Lived alternately in Paris and London. Whistler was a cadet at West Point, 1851-1853. Draftsman at the Coast Survey, Washington, D.C., 1854-1855. Sailed to Paris in 1855. Published first group of French etchings in 1858. Well-known for portrait of his mother, first shown in 1872. Published The Gentle Art of Making Enemies in 1890. Served as President of the Society of British Artists and the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, 1890-1901.

Microfilmed 1985-1992 by the Glasgow University Library with funds provided the Archives of American Art. The bulk of the collection was donated to the University by Whistler's sister-in-law, Rosalind Birnie Philip in 1935 and 1954, and by her estate in 1958. Whistler's great nephew, Joseph Whistler Revillon, donated several hundred letters and documents in 1955. Correspondence with collector J.J. Cowen was donated in 1970 by Cowen's daughter, Lady Maconochie of Inverewe. E.A. Walton correspondence was received from Mrs. Dorothy Walton in 1974, and hundreds of letters were received through purchase.

How to Use this Collection

  • Microfilm reels 4600-4611 and 4683-4699 available for use at Archives of American Art offices, through interlibrary loan, the Glasgow (Scotland) University Library, Dept. of Special Collections, and the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.
  • Authorization to publish, quote or reproduce must be obtained from: Glasgow University Library, Keeper of Special Collections, Hillhead Street, Glasgow G12 8QE, Scotland, U.K. All unpublished Whistler letters and other Whistler material subject to copyright is vested with the University Court of the University of Glasgow, Whistler's residuary legatees.
  • The Archives of American art does not own the original papers. Use is limited to the microfilm copy.
  • For more information on using the Archives’ resources, see the FAQ or Ask Us.

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