James McNeill Whistler - Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach, about 1872-1878

James McNeill Whistler (Lowell, Massachusetts, 1834 - 1903, London)

Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach, about 1872-1878

Oil on canvas, 39.4 x 62.9 cm (15 1/2 x 24 3/4 in.) canvas


Object details

Accession number



Purchased by Isabella Stewart Gardner from James McNeill Whistler, Paris on 25 June 1895 for 600 guineas.


Signed (lower right): Whistler's butterfly signature

Dimension Notes

Frame: 76.2 x 99.06 cm (30 x 39 in.)


Art Exhibition: Mrs. John L. Gardner, 152 Beacon St., Boston. Exh. cat. (Boston, 1899), p. 3, no. 9.
Catalogue. Fenway Court. (Boston, 1903), p. 2. (as "Symphony in Blue")
Philip Hendy. Catalogue of Exhibited Paintings and Drawings (Boston, 1931), pp. 417-18.
Gilbert Wendel Longstreet and Morris Carter. General Catalogue (Boston, 1935), p. 17.
Stuart Preston. "Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach" in Alfred M. Frankfurter (ed.). The Gardner Collection (New York, 1946), p. 54.
Philip Hendy. European and American Paintings in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 1974), pp. 291-92.
Alan Chong et al. (eds.) Eye of the Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, 2003), p. 200.
Cynthia Saltzman. Old Masters, New World: America’s Raid on Europe’s Great Pictures (New York: Penguin Books, 2008), p. 53.
Christine M. E. Guth. "Multisensorial Asia" in Alan Chong and Noriko Murai (eds.). Inventing Asia: American Perspectives Around 1900. Fenway Court, vol. 33 (Boston, 2014), p. 96.
Hélène Valance. Nocturne: Night in American Art, 1890-1917 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2018), pp. 2-3, fig. 3.

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Whistler was living in Chelsea, across the Thames from Battersea, when he painted this nocturne. He brushed thinned pigment across the canvas in bold, sweeping strokes, modulating the tone of the blue only slightly to create the subtle gradations that separate river, shore, and sky. Specks of orange and yellow mark the position of boats on the water, lights on the shore, and a clock tower in the distance.

Source: Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 200.


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