McCulloch made his fortune in Australia. He was manager of a sheep station in New South Wales where lead - silver and zinc was discovered. A photograph reproduced in Maas shows McCulloch, his wife Mary Agnes McCulloch (b. ca 1858), and their collection at Queen's Gate London.
His collection included paintings of Venice by van Haanen and Woods.
He bought Arrangement in Grey: Portrait of the Painter y122 in 1895. Whistler indignantly refused to sign it again, explaining that the butterfly was his recognized signature. McCulloch then bought Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay y076 lent it to the ISSPG in 1898 (cat. no. 183). By 15 August Whistler had decided that McCulloch was Scottish (although he called him 'McCullough'), and wrote to D.C. Thomson of Goupil's, 'I am pleased to know that my portrait after all belongs to a Scotchman' (15 August , GUW #08306).
On McCulloch's death the paintings went to his widow, who married J. Coutts-Michie in 1909, and they were sold.
Information from family descendants; Maas, Jeremy, The Victorian Art World in Photographs, London, 1984, p. 175.
The Correspondence of James McNeill Whistler, 1855-1903, edited by Margaret F. MacDonald, Patricia de Montfort and Nigel Thorp; Online edition, University of Glasgow, 1903-1904.