The history of this sketch is difficult to establish. According to Ernest George Brown (1851-1915) of The Fine Art Society, it was bought by M. H. A. Spielmann at Whistler's bankruptcy sale at Sotheby's on 12 February 1880, but if so it was not catalogued, nor mentioned in documents or letters at the time. 1 It is quite possible that it was among works left in the studio because they were considered incomplete or damaged, but was acquired by Spielman at that time, possibly directly from the artist. Again according to Brown, it was given by Spielmann to Brandon Thomas on 18 May 1885.
The London art dealers, Colnaghi, collected it from Thomas on 15 April 1905 for the Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905 (ex catalogue). 2 There is no record of the sketch thereafter, and it may have belonged to Brandon Thomas until his death in 1914. His daughter, the actress Amy Marguerite Brandon Thomas (Mrs Barnes-Brand) (1890-1974) was painted by Whistler in 1890 (Portrait of Miss Amy Brandon Thomas [YMSM 392]). She inherited her own portrait and could possibly have inherited the sketch of Leyland as well.
According to a relative of the publisher William Heinemann (1863-1920), he at one time owned a sketch of Leyland, possibly Study in Grey for the Portrait of F. R. Leyland [YMSM 095] or Portrait Sketch of F. R. Leyland [YMSM 096], which in 1911 was in the possession of Deschechierres (dates unknown) of Paris, a friend of William Heinemann. 3 It has not been possible to confirm this.
There are further gaps in the provenance as it went around art dealers in London and New York. At some time it was with The Fine Art Society, London. It was bought from Arthur Tooth by Colnaghi's in 1932, exhibited at the Adams Gallery in Pall Mall in February 1939, but sold by Colnaghi's to Alphonse Kann in June 1943. It was acquired by Anthony d'Offay in April 1969, exhibited back at Colnaghi's in 1971, but sold by d'Offay at Parke-Bernet in 1972, when it was purchased by Knoedler's of New York. It was briefly with Karnemann Enterprises, New York, in 1977, but sold by Knoedler's in the following year to Ross Spencer.
The London art dealers, Colnaghi, collected it from Thomas on 15 April 1905 for the Whistler memorial exhibition but it is not in the catalogue.
Last updated: 18th April 2021 by Margaret