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Nocturne (Nocturne: The Thames at Battersea)

Artist:
James McNeill Whistler (American, Lowell, Massachusetts 1834–1903 London)
Date:
1878
Medium:
Lithotint with scraping, on a prepared half-tint ground, second state of two (Chicago), printed in soft gray-black ink on pale blue laid chine mounted on ivory wove plate paper
Dimensions:
Image: 6 3/4 × 10 3/16 in. (17.1 × 25.9 cm) Sheet: 13 1/2 × 19 5/16 in. (34.3 × 49 cm)
Classification:
Prints
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1917
Accession Number:
17.3.159
Not on view
Born in New England, Whistler studied painting in Paris and then based himself in London. There he demonstrated that making prints could be as serious an artistic pursuit as painting. Representing the river Thames, then the lagoons of Venice, Whistler developed subtle tonal variations that alluded dreamily to a triumph of water and air over substance.
In this early lithograph, Whistler worked directly on the stone (rather than using transfer paper), applying washes of ink to achieve striking atmospheric effects. The artist printed this river subject in 1878, the year in which his libel case against the art critic John Ruskin—involving Ruskin's attack on one of Whistler's painted "Nocturnes"—was heard. Though Whistler won the case, the court costs forced him to declare bankruptcy in the following year.
Signature: In the stone: butterfly monogram, lower right
Harris Brisbane Dick; Vendor: Dick Estate, U.S. Trust
Way 5; Chicago 8 ii/ii; Levy 10-11
Thomas Robert Way Mr. Whistler's Lithographs: The Catalogue. George Bell & Sons, London, 1896, cat. no. 5.

Mervyn Levy Whistler Lithographs An Illustrated Catalogue Raisonné. Jupiter Books, London, 1975, cat. no. 10, 11.

Katharine A. Lochnan, Dr. Martha Tedeschi, Harriet K. Stratis, Nesta R. Spink The Lithographs of James McNeill Whistler Volumes I and II. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 1998, cat. no. I.63.8 ii/ii.



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