Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow


William Eden

Title: Sir (Bart.)
Nationality: English
Date of birth: 1849.04.04
Date of death: 1915.02.20
Category: collector


Sir William Eden, a landowner, huntsman, traveller, collector and amateur painter, was the second son of the sixth Baronet, and succeeded his father in 1873. The Eden family motto is 'Si sit prudentia' (if there be but prudence).

He lived at Windlestone, Ferry Hill, County Durham. In 1886 he married Sybil Frances Grey (1867-1945), the daughter of Sir William Grey. Their daughter, Elfrida Marjorie Eden (1887-1943), married Guy, Lord Brooke in 1909 and became Countess of Warwick in 1924.


Eden exhibited regularly in London and Paris. He also collected art and owned Whistler's painting The Seashore y297.

On 4 March 1895 Eden brought an action against Whistler because the artist refused to hand over the portrait he had been commissioned to paint of Lady Eden, Brown and Gold: Portrait of Lady Eden y408, Whistler being dissatisfied with Eden's payment. Whistler lost but, believing that as an artist he had the right to withhold any work with which he was not entirely happy, appealed in the courts on 15 December 1897 and the decision was reversed and he was allowed to keep the picture, on the proviso that it was made irrecognisable.


Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage, London, 1896; Whistler, James McNeill, Eden versus Whistler: The Baronet and the Butterfly. A Valentine with a Verdict, Paris: Louis-Henry May, 1899 ; Eden, Sir Timothy Calvert, The Tribulations of a Baronet, London, 1933 ; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer, and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980 ; Walkley, Giles, Artists' houses in London 1764-1914, Aldershot, 1994 .