in the Works of
Whistler: A Biography
New York: Weybright and Talley, 1988
One of the great culinary events of 1857 for Whistler [was]...gala Christmas dinner conceived by Tom Armstrong and composed of all the foods they had dreamed of in bad times....With the aid of his friends, ingredients unobtainable in Paris were ordered from London--a plum pudding, whisky, English beer and a Stilton cheese....
By Christmas Eve the hamper from London had not yet arrived....the
group, not ready to give way to panic, walked through a cold and moonlit
Paris to midnight Mass at the Madeleine. The next morning there was still
no hamper, and by Christmas afternoon the friends...called at the depot to
find that the hamper had been held up by customs...they set about cooking
their dinner....By ten o’clock they were able to sit down to eat, drink,
and sing. Armstrong...held out until six in the morning...his companions....kept
going themselves until eight..
Working on The Music Room returned him [Whistler] regularly to the Hadens, where he and Du Maurier spend Christmas Day, 1860
The Thames in Ice was a discovery of the
atmospheric qualities of a setting....Pleased with the canvas, he brought
it to Knightsbridge, where Seymour Haden saw it and offered to buy it....Whistler
accepted...He titled it The Twenty-Fifth of December, 1860, on the Thames,
[the] day he and Du Maurier had spent by the fireside and the dining table
with the Hadens in Sloane Street.
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