Nocturne: Palaces

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Nocturne: Palaces 1879 - 1880
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.

Glossary Open


A form of printmaking in which a metal plate is covered with a substance called a 'ground', usually wax, into which an image is drawn with a needle. Acid is applied, eroding the areas of the plate exposed but not the areas covered by wax. The action of the acid creates lines in the metal plate that hold the ink from which a print is made when the plate is pressed against paper under pressure.


A drawing material made from ground pigment bound with enough gum or resin to hold it together in a stick, often smudged on paper to produce soft, atmospheric effects.

Etching, Pastel


  • Acc. No. ENGLISH.894
  • Medium Etching and drypoint on paper
  • Size Sheet: 29.40 x 20.00 cm
  • Credit Purchased 1979