Catalogue entry

T05011 Blackfriars Bridge: Moonlight Sketch ?1862 or 1863

Watercolour on wove paper 161 × 224 (6 1/4 × 8 13/16)

Inscribed ‘Blackfriars Bridge. | moonlight sketch from 14 Chatham Place | 6 3/4 × 8 3/4 George P. Boyce’ in pencil on back of lining paper

Presented by Mrs John Gere 1987
Prov:...; Abbott & Holder, from whom bt by Mrs John Gere 1974
Exh: ? OWCS Winter 1867–8 (377, as ‘Night Sketch of Old Blackfriars Bridge, 1864’); English Watercolours, Abbott & Holder, Alpine Club, March 1974 (86)
Lit: Virginia Surtees (ed.). The Diaries of George Price Boyce, 1980, pp.38, 99

In 1862 Boyce took over his friend Rossetti's studio and living quarters at 14 Chatham Place, overlooking the Thames near Blackfriars Bridge. A drawing of c.1861 by Rossetti of Elizabeth Siddal standing in the studio at Chatham Place shows Blackfriars Bridge in the distance and from the same angle as that seen in T05011 (destroyed; repr. H.C. Marillier, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 3rd ed., 1904, opp. p.36).

Boyce had already begun to make night studies of the river from his former lodgings at 15 Buckingham Street, overlooking the river near Hungerford Bridge; a ‘Night Sketch of the Thames near Hungerford Bridge’ (Tate Gallery, N05000, exh. George Price Boyce, Tate Gallery, June–Aug 1987, 31, repr.) is inscribed on the back ‘... From my studio window 15 Buckingham Street ...’. Boyce continued to make night sketches of the river from his Chatham Place studio. T05011 may be the study recorded in his diary for 3 June 1863: ‘Made a study of moonlight effect on river from my balcony’ (Surtees 1980, p.38; p.99 as ‘unidentified’). It is a more sombre study than N05000, and arguably has greater immediacy. At least two other such studies are known (private collections).

Boyce's studies of the Thames by night anticipated and perhaps to some extent inspired his friend Whistler's nocturnes, the first of which probably date from 1866. On 5 February 1864 Boyce recorded in his diary ‘W. [Whistler] has begun 2 pictures on the Thames, very good indeed’ (Surtees 1980, p.39).

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996