Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

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Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay


Several possible titles have been suggested:

  • 'Nocturne in blue and silver' (1875, Royal Pavilion Gallery, Brighton). 1
  • 'Nocturne in blue and gold: Valparaiso Bay' (1887, Royal Society of British Artists). 2
  • 'Nocturne en bleu et argent' (1890, Salon, Paris). 3
  • 'Nocturne "Valparaiso" ' (1892, Whistler). 4
  • 'Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Valparaiso' (1892, Goupil). 5
  • 'Nocturne, Valparaiso' (1893, World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago). 6
  • 'Nocturne - Valparaiso' (1898, Goupil). 7
  • 'Blue and Gold – Valparaiso Nocturne' (1898, ISSPG). 8
  • 'Valparaiso, Nocturne' and 'Blue and Gold, Valparaiso, Nocturne' (1905, ISSPG). 9
  • 'Valparaiso' (1909, Royal Academy of Arts). 10
  • 'Nocturne: Blue and Gold – Valparaiso' (1984, Curry). 11
  • 'Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay' (1980, YMSM). 12

'Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay' is the preferred title, based on the 1887 title.


                    Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay, Freer Gallery of Art
Nocturne in Blue and Gold: Valparaiso Bay, Freer Gallery of Art

A nocturnal view in vertical format, looking down on a pier or jetty and across a bay to hills in the distance. There are people on the pier and several tall masted ships in the bay.


Valparaiso, Chile. W. McQueen (dates unknown) told Pennell that 'his father was in Valparaiso when Whistler was there, that he put Whistler up at his Club, and that it was from the Club windows that the beautiful upright Valparaiso was painted.' 13

In 1887 Whistler described it as 'one of my very finest nocturnes - the Valparaiso'. 14


A watercolour, 'Nocturne, Valparaiso Silver and Gold', said to be by Whistler, was exhibited at the Whistler Memorial Exhibition in 1905 (cat. no. 122; whereabouts unknown); it is possible that this was a copy of the oil by another hand.


1: Second Annual Exhibition of Modern Pictures in Oil and Water Colour, Royal Pavilion Gallery, Brighton, 1875 (cat. no. 158).

2: 64th Annual Exhibition, Royal Society of British Artists, London, 1887 (cat. no. 156).

3: Ouvrages de peinture, sculpture, architecture, gravure et lithographie des artistes vivants, 105th exhibition, Salon de la Société des artistes français, Palais des Champs Elysées, Paris 1890 (cat. no. 2439).

4: Whistler to D. C. Thomson, [4 January 1892], GUW #08214.

5: Nocturnes, Marines & Chevalet Pieces, Goupil Gallery, London, 1892 (cat. no. 28).

6: World's Columbian Exposition, Department of Fine Arts, Chicago, 1893 (cat. no. 787).

7: A Collection of Selected Works by Painters of the English, French & Dutch Schools, Goupil Gallery, London, 1898 (cat. no. 21).

8: Exhibition of International Art, International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, Knightsbridge, London, 1898 (cat. no. 183).

9: Memorial Exhibition of the Works of the late James McNeill Whistler, First President of The International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, New Gallery, Regent Street, London, 1905 (cat. no. 16) in ordinary and deluxe edition respectively.

10: Exhibition of Modern Works in Painting and Sculpture forming the Collection of the late George M. McCulloch, Esq., Winter Exhibition 40th year, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1909 (cat. no. 249).

11: Curry 1984 [more] , pl. 22.

12: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 76).

13: Pennell 1921C [more] , p. 48.

14: Whistler to Theodore Child, [October/November 1889], GUW #09264.

Last updated: 5th June 2021 by Margaret