James Abbott McNeill WhistlerNocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge c.1872-5

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Artwork details

Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge
Date c.1872-5
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 683 x 512 mm frame: 922 x 760 x 83 mm
Acquisition Presented by the Art Fund 1905
Not on display


This is one of Whistler's most controversial works and was produced as 'evidence' in the famous Whistler-Ruskin trial of 1878. It is the fifth in a series of Nocturnes, produced during the 1870s. Whistler's aim in these works was to convey a sense of the beauty and tranquility of the Thames by night. It was Frederick Leyland who first used the name 'nocturne' to describe these moonlit scenes, suggesting the concept of evening, or night, but with musical associations. The expression was quickly adopted by Whistler, who later explained,

By using the word 'nocturne' I wished to indicate an artistic interest alone, divesting the picture of any outside anecdotal interest which might have been otherwise attached to it… (read more)