James McNeill Whistler, The Peacock Room, Kangxi Porcelain Collection at the Smithsonian


The Whistler Peacock Room

Peacock Room, kangxi Porcelain
View, The Peacock Room. Green learther walls with
Gilt Decoration by James M. Whistler.
Designed by Thomas Jeckyll
The Peacock Room was once the dining room in the London home of Frederick R. Leyland, a wealthy shipowner from Liverpool, England. It was originally designed by a gifted interior architect named Thomas Jeckyll. To display Leyland’s prized collection of Chinese porcelain to best advantage, Jeckyll constructed a lattice of intricately carved shelving and hung antique gilded leather on the walls. A painting by James McNeill Whistler (1834–1903) called La Princesse du pays de la porcelaine—or The Princess from the Land of Porcelain (see fig. 2)—occupied a place of honor above the fireplace.

Kangxi Porcelain display Freer Gallery
View, Whistler's Peacock Room done for the
London Home of Frederick R. Leyland.
Designed by Thomas Jeckyll
Jeckyll had nearly completed his commission when he consulted Whistler—who was then working on decorations for the entrance hall of Leyland’s house—about the color to paint the dining room shutters and doors. Concerned that the red roses on the leather hangings clashed with the colors in The Princess, Whistler volunteered to retouch the walls with traces of yellow. Leyland permitted Whistler to make that minor alteration and also to adorn the wainscoting and cornice with a “wave pattern” derived from the design on the leaded glass of the pantry door. Assuming the decoration of the room to be virtually complete, Leyland went back to his business in Liverpool.

In his patron’s absence, Whistler was inspired to make bolder revisions. He covered the ceiling with Dutch metal, or imitation gold leaf, over which he painted a lush pattern of peacock feathers. He then gilded Jeckyll’s walnut shelving and embellished the wooden shutters with four magnificently plumed peacocks.

More Images from the Whistler Room courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution. To read this entire Article CLICK HERE

James McNeill Whistler by Paul César Helleu
James McNeill Whistler Dry Point,          
by Paul César Helleu  (French,1859–1927) 

Gilt Panels and Kangxi Smithsonian
View, Corner of Peacock Room, Kangxi Porcelain and
Gilt Decorated leather walls, by Whistler

Gilt Peacock Shudders Whistler Room
View, Kangxi Blue and White with Peacock Shudders

Gilt Shudders of Peacocks Freer Gallery
Gilt Shudders Detail in Peacock Room

The Princess from the Land of Porcelain
"The Princess from the Land of Porcelain",
By James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)