The Peacock Room

The Wee Notes: Another poem in my Dorian Grey series.  I am using these poems and the study of the times to get my MFA, hopefully by the end of summer. I have written a fictional epistolary poem from Dorian to James Whistler. Oscar Wilde toured America in 1882 and 1883. He and James Whistler were constantly scoring points off each other while holding court at the Café Royal in London. Whistler had finished his famous Peacock Room at the house of Frederick Richards Leyland. Thomas Jeckyll, another British architect/artist experienced in the Anglo-Japanese style, was originally commissioned. Jeckyll fell ill and the room became the responsibility of James Whistler. It was completed in 1877. The room was originally entitled Symphony in Blue and Gold and is one of the finest examples of interior art by Whistler. The portrait which is showcased in the room is entitled the Princess from the Land of Porcelain and the model is Christina Spartali. Both Whistler and Leyland were fascinated by Spartali and it became the basis for a financial disagreement between Patron and Artist. So much for the wee notes for this quadrille.  Posted for dVerse Poets Pub Quadrille Monday and Real Toads Tuesday Platform.

public domain

The Peacock Room
“Mauve is just pink trying to be purple.” James Whistler
“Memory … is the diary we carry about with us.” Oscar Wilde

Dear James,
This new world makes me feel old. San Francisco in the rain
Is not nearly as lovely as London. The reflections of buildings are too sharp –
the colours muted. Your favorite dartboard will soon return to the Café Royal.

Princess from the Land of Porcelain – James Whistler

23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. qbit
    May 21, 2018 @ 21:17:13

    “The new world makes me feel old” — I like that a lot. And what an amazing room and conversation!


  2. rothpoetry
    May 21, 2018 @ 22:28:49

    An amazing story! Love the princess from the land of porcelain


  3. Frank Hubeny
    May 21, 2018 @ 23:00:44

    Nice line about the new making me feel old.


  4. kim881
    May 22, 2018 @ 02:33:16

    A great interpretation of the prompt, Toni – you know I enjoy your Dorian Grey pieces. I love the quotes and the note to Whistler about the reflections of buildings being too sharp and colours muted – I’m sure Whistler would agree!
    Thank you for the Princess from the Land of Porcelain – I’d not seen it before and it’s gorgeous.


  5. mhmp77
    May 22, 2018 @ 04:01:51


    became the basis for a financial
    disagreement between Patron and Artist.

    It is sad that ‘partners in trade’ should have a fallout. Their combined efforts should be mutually benefiting them both and not cause dissensions!



  6. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    May 22, 2018 @ 04:15:09

    I love this… your recreation of Dorian in this setting reminds me a bit of the books by Anne Rice… The contrast between San Francisco and London must have been so much larger then I think


  7. sanaarizvi
    May 22, 2018 @ 08:02:26

    Such an amazing story! I adore your Dorian poems Toni 😍😍😍


  8. annell4
    May 22, 2018 @ 10:46:21

    Love this write, so much I don’t know. I did not know this story, and loved each word. I also loved the quotes…


    • kanzensakura
      May 22, 2018 @ 10:56:08

      Thank you Annell. I can see how this story would appeal to you as an artist. I have actually researched and am still researching as this is time period is what I am working on for my MFA.


  9. lynn__
    May 22, 2018 @ 11:37:53

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge of art and the history of this room…love the actual quotes and your fictitious letter, Toni!


  10. Mish
    May 22, 2018 @ 20:59:25

    What an interesting story. I love the way epistolary poems reveal the characters in an indirect way. Thanks for sharing pieces of your hard work. Sounds like you are one busy lady!


  11. thotpurge
    May 22, 2018 @ 22:00:40

    Wonderfully crafted… Also love the quote: “Mauve is just pink trying to be purple.”


  12. Vivian Zems
    May 23, 2018 @ 06:45:37

    I’m enjoying the series. You captured time and character. I hope you put this together into a book. I’m fascinated by all things Dorian… you know


  13. Victoria C. Slotto
    May 23, 2018 @ 16:35:18

    Oh, I remember this story from when I was a docent at the NV Museum of Art and we had a Whistler exhibit (mostly his prints). Not an easy one to show to the school-age kids so you almost had to fill the tour with stories. He was ripe for them. Still haven’t read Dorian…my bad.


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