William Cleverly Alexander (1840-1916), a wealthy banker and patron of Whistler, and his wife Rachel Agnes Lucas (1837-1900) had a large family, including several daughters: Agnes Mary ('May') (1862–1950), Cicely Henrietta (1864–1932), Helen Christina (1866-1897), Grace (1867–1959), Emily Margaret (1872-1962), Emily Margaret (1872–1962), Rachel Frances (1875-1964) and Jean Ingslow (1878-1972), and two sons, William Geoffrey (1865–1911) and George Cleverley, born about 1869 (d. after 1937).
About twenty Whistler etchings collected by W. C. Alexander passed by family descent to his daughter, Rachel, and were sold by her executors to the British Museum in London in 1973, along with examples of oriental porcelain and glazed stoneware and thirty-four sketches and letters relating to Whistler and the Alexander family. The etchings were all early ones, before Whistler's trip to Venice in 1879-80, which corresponds with the period in the 1870s when W. C. Alexander was commissioning portraits of his daughters May, Cicely and Grace from Whistler (Harmony in Grey and Green: Miss Cicely Alexander y129, Miss May Alexander y127 and Portrait of Miss Grace Alexander y130), buying other paintings and commissioning decorative schemes from Whistler at Aubrey House, Kensington.
Rachel and her sister Jean had a life interest in works owned by W.C. Alexander including Nocturne: Blue and Silver - Chelsea y103, which entered the National Gallery in 1972.
UK 1881 census; Pennell, Elizabeth Robins, and Joseph Pennell, The Life of James McNeill Whistler, 2 vols, London and Philadelphia, 1908 ; Lugt, Frits, Les marques de collections de dessins et d'estampes: marques estampillèes et écrites de collections particulières et publiques; marques de marchands, de monteurs et d'imprimeurs; etc..., Amsterdam, 1921 (96); Report of Gere, Keeper of the Print Room, 17 August 1973, Trustees Reports.