Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach - james mcneill whistler, 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.)


Object details

Accession number


Dimension Notes

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


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


Signed (lower right): Whistler's butterfly signature


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.
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.

Rights and reproductions

The use of images, text, and all other media found on this website is limited. Please review Rights and Reproductions for details.


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.