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In 1866 Whistler sailed to the Chilean port of Valparaiso, apparently intending to fight for Chile in their war against Spain. The title of this picture, which associates its colouring with twilight, establishes the work as an exercise in colour harmonies in a way typical of his work. Whistler was American, but after initially working in Paris, he moved to London in 1859. His ‘aesthetic’ suppression of subject in favour of a harmonious arrangement of colours and textures was an important forerunner of Impressionism in Britain.

February 2010