Brian Hunter

Brian Hunter

Posted on 01/22/2014


Photo taken on January 22, 2014


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Old Battersea Bridge Twilights and Fireworks

Old Battersea Bridge Twilights and Fireworks
To give it its Sunday name"Nocturne: Blue and Gold - Old Battersea Bridge". This was one of the central pieces of the exhibition. Old Battersea Bridge was a favourite Whistler scene during his first residence in Chelsea (before he went bankrupt as a result of suing John Ruskin for libel over an unfavourable review- he won the case but the jury awarded him a farthing damages without costs). By the time he painted this in the mid 1870's its days were numbered as a result of urban improvement schemes. The waterman paddling the lighter through the arch probably didn't mourn its passing; it was a notoriously dangerous spot as the piers caused nasty whirpools and currents. The depiction somewhat exaggerates the clearance over the water (as the next picture suggests) and the bridge's general look here is influenced by that of a bridge in Edo which was popular with Japanese print artists. The sparkles in the sky come from a firework display at Cremorne Gardens, the last survivor of the great pleasure gardens of 18th century London. This had a decidedly doubtful reputation by the 1870's and was closed down just after this painting was completed. The whole scene takes on something of an air of nostalgia which may not have been present for the very earliest viewers

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