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Whereas many painters in this room sought to emphasise the drama and commotion of the city, in this painting of the Thames looking towards Chelsea, Whistler creates an almost abstract atmosphere of tranquillity. This is the first of a series of paintings by him titled Nocturnes, which presented night-time scenes along the Thames. Whistler wanted his paintings to be interpreted as objects of pure beauty, without narrative or anecdotal content.

August 2004