The story behind the work
The story behind the work: The Peacock Room
Friday, September 3, 2010
No visit to "Chinamania" would be complete without a stop in the Peacock Room, which is chockablock with even more of the blue-and-white porcelain that's at the heart of the little show.
Though formally known as "Harmony in Blue and Gold," the wonderfully garish dining room has a history that's anything but harmonious. Upset by what he saw as his decorator's excesses, Frederick R. Leyland, the Peacock Room's owner, refused to pay James McNeill Whistler his full fee, leading to a falling-out.
In the end, Whistler had a kind of artistic revenge. At one end of the room he painted two peacocks -- representing him and Leyland -- fighting over a coin purse.
-- Michael O'Sullivan