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

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Panels from the Entrance Hall at 49 Princes Gate

Panels from the Entrance Hall at 49 Princes Gate date from 1876. 1

Frederick Richards Leyland (1832-1892) commissioned decorations for the hall in his London house at 49 Princes Gate.

According to Alan Summerly Cole (1846-1934), he saw the colouring of the hall, 'very delicate cocoa-colour and gold – successful', on 24 March 1876. 2 About this time Whistler also painted the panels of the dado up the staircase. He lived at Princes Gate through the summer.

The 2000 Survey of London gives extensive details of the development of Princes Gate, including No. 49, and the designs by Jeckyll and Whistler, describing the Whistler's designs for the hall as follows:

'For the walls Whistler chose contrasting shades of green, to harmonize with the gilt balustrade; his most personal contribution, however, was a series of panels along the dado. Embellished with pink and white flowers on a background of dutch metal (imitation gold-leaf) under a lightly distressed green glaze, these were in progress in March 1876.' 3

On 17 August 1876 Leyland sent Whistler £50, and suggested Whistler should wait to see how the gilding on the stairs would wear.

'Seeing the doubt there is of the gilding on the stairs standing you had better do no more there. It looks very well as it is; and had better stand over until we see whether it will be lasting enough for the work put on it.' 4

Merrill suggests that Whistler's scheme originally extended to the whole hall and was only halted at Leyland's request. 5


1: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 175).

2: Pennell 1908 [more], vol. 1, p. 203. Ms copies with variations, GUW #12986, #13132, #03432.

3: Greenacombe, John (ed.), 'Princes Gate and Princes Gardens: the Freake Estate, Development by C. J. Freake', in Survey of London: Volume 45, Knightsbridge, London, 2000, pp. 191-205, in British History Online website at

4: GUW #02569.

5: Merrill 1998 [more], p. 183.

Last updated: 20th May 2021 by Margaret