A personalized look at the life and times of James Abbott McNeill Whistler…
During the course of his work for the art patron, Frederick R. Leyland, a Liverpool shipowner, the following transpired:
“That gave the excitable Whistler a clear field. Alone in the house, he more than touched up the room with a little gold paint. He let his imagination run wild with peacock feather designs on the ceiling, ornate peacocks in gilded paint on the shutters, and around the walls.
“Well, you know, I just painted on and on. I went on – without design or sketch – putting
in every touch with such freedom…And the harmony blue and gold developing, you know, I forgot everything
in my joy of it.”
And, most shockingly, he painted over the leather walls.
Now about those leather walls. The leather had been bought by Thomas Jekyll at great expense to Mr. Leyland.
It had been part of the dowry of Catherine of Aragon who
brought it from Spain. It was richly embossed and trimmed, and important in its own right. Whistler had covered all the visible rich antique Spanish leather completely with a thick coat of peacock blue paint.