Whistler first visited Venice in 1879 following the catastrophe and ensuing bankruptcy of the Ruskin trial. Venice held great nostalgic appeal for artists and it was seen as an antidote to modernity. While there, he mainly produced pastels and etchings. This Nocturne (night-view) called ‘Palaces’ is one of the most evocative and mysterious works he produced in Venice. The old, brooding buildings are reflected in the still waters of the canal. The dark night sky has an almost oppressive solidity, but the lower halves of the Venetian palaces are bathed in light coming from the moon and the lamp on the bridge. The details of the buildings are suggested by a few scratches, as Whistler captured the dissolution of Venice into the darkness.