Making the Peacock Room

When his architect Thomas Jekyll fell ill, shipping magnate Frederick Leyland turned to his friend, the artist James McNeill Whistler, to complete renovations on his dining room. Leyland presumed Whistler would make a few alterations but returned to a totally transformed space. Whistler had painted over Leyland’s imported leather wall coverings, gilded the room’s shelving, and covered the ceiling with his blue, green, and gold peacock motif. Leyland refused to pay Whistler’s proposed fee. In frustration, Whistler left his former patron with a mural of two fighting peacocks, a composition he titled Art and Money; or, The Story of the Room. For more on this feud, see A Brief History of the Peacock Room below and visit The Story of the Beautiful, a collaboration with Wayne State University.