Whistler and Peacock Blue

Saturated Space, September 2015

In the summer and autumn of 1876, visitors to the London home of shipping magnate Frederick Richards Leyland, at 49 Prince’s Gate in Kensington, stopped short when they came to the dining room. There they were met by the sight of a dandyish man, with a shock of white hair, painting on a ladder in a state of frenzied concentration. His two young assistants moved in and out of the room, carrying pails of paint and sheets of gilt. There was so much gilt that it got into their hair and shimmered on their skin. At one point the artist mounted a scaffold or a sling under the ceiling, and painted it on his back.

Leyland, the owner of the house, was away on business. He knew only that the artist, a close friend, was touching up his new dining room.

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