Only minor variations on the title have been suggested:
'Battersea Reach' is the preferred title.
A view across a river, in a city, painted in horizontal format. In the lower right foreground are figures walking or leaning on a parapet over the river. A woman in a white dress, with long fair hair, is prominent among these. Half a dozen sailing barges with red or black furled sails are moored by the shore at right. Another sailing barge and other boats are on the river. On the far side of the river there are large buildings, factories and warehouses. Both river and sky are streaked with grey and white with touches of pale blue.
The river Thames, as seen from Chelsea, London. Old Westminster Bridge is seen in the background. Whistler described the view:
'The picture called "Battersea Reach" was painted by me ... when I was living in Lindsey Row, Chelsea. It was a view of the opposite bank of the river, from out of my window.' 6
In a letter to Edward Guthrie Kennedy (1849-1932), Whistler listed it as 'No. 3. The Battersea (afternoon or evening effect).' 7 In another letter, to his sister-in-law, he described it as 'the little evening on the Battersea Reach - a most gorgeous bit of colour.' 8
Symphony in Grey: Early Morning, Thames [YMSM 098], and numerous other paintings, show the same view as in Battersea Reach.
The 'White Girl' in the foreground at lower right is a visual reference to Whistler's portraits of Joanna Hiffernan (b. ca 1843-d.1886), particularly Symphony in White, No. 1: The White Girl [YMSM 038]. 10
3: St Louis 1911 (cat. no. 84).
9: Lochnan, Katharine, Turner, Whistler, Monet, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris; Tate Britain, London, 2004-2005 (cat. no. 121).
10: MacDonald, Margaret F., 'Joanna Hiffernan and James Whistler: an Artistic Partnership' in Margaret F. MacDonald (ed.), The Woman in White: Joanna Hiffernan and James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and Washington, 2020, pp. 15-31.
Last updated: 1st December 2020 by Margaret