William Webb, b. ca 1851
Date of Birth: ca 1851
William Webb was a lawyer in the firm of G. & W. Webb. His will, proved in 1929 (he left £16,193 net), gives his age at death as 80.
George and William Webb were Whistler's solicitors. They were involved in the Whistler v Ruskin trial in 1878, the Sheridan Ford affair in 1890, the Eden v Whistler case in 1895 and the Way quarrel in 1896.
William Webb, who was a man of literary and artistic interests, appears to have had the most professional contact with Whistler. Due to the lack of financial success of the second exhibition of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers in the summer of 1899, he was appointed the society's Honorary Solicitor and Treasurer at the request of Whistler who was President.
However, William Webb's relationship with Whistler was not merely in an official capacity. There was a degree of camaraderie between the two men. Pennell recorded that Webb at one point tried to teach Whistler to ride a bicycle and on another that he was to be found watering Whistler's flowers in his garden at 110 rue du Bac in Paris. Travelling to France one day in 1893 in order to have Whistler and his wife Beatrix sign their wills, Webb ended up accompanying the couple on a day trip to Barbizon. Pennell described him as 'a little man, a thorough Englishman, in big spectacles, with a curious sniff'.
Kelly's London Post office Directory, London; UK census 1881, from http://www.familysearch.org (accessed 2004); Times, London, 26 September 1929; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; MacDonald, Margaret F., James McNeill Whistler. Drawings, Pastels and Watercolours. A Catalogue Raisonné, New Haven and London, 1995.