In the nineteenth century the waterfront at Chelsea was teeming with barges and steamboats. Greaves painted this stretch of the Thames several times; here he includes the steeple of Chelsea Church amidst the thriving industrial landscape.
Greaves was the son of a Chelsea boat-builder. He met Whistler in 1863 and they became close friends, Whistler frequently making use of the family’s boats to paint his famous ‘nocturnes’. Greaves said to John Rothenstein ‘Chelsea was so beautiful that you couldn’t but paint it. To Mr. Whistler, a boat was always a tone. To me, it was just a boat’.