Grey and Silver: The Thames is extremely difficult to date. Originally considered to date from the early 1870s, it has (with some reservations!) been redated to the later 1890s.
1872: It is, as a subject, related to Whistler's early 1870s Nocturnes. It was dated 'about 1870/5' in the 1980 catalogue raisonné. 1 The frame dates from the 1870s but does not help in the dating of the nocturne since it was not made for this picture.
1885: Whistler was also 'painting at night for night effects' in 1885 as Alan Summerly Cole (1846-1934) noted in his diary on 26 November. 2 Thus, a date in the mid-1880s could be possible, but the technique does not seem appropriate for that period.
1887: Grey and Silver: The Thames is a view of the Thames like that seen from what is now the Savoy Hotel, with Charing Cross Railway Bridge barely visible on the right. Since the Hotel was built in 1887, this might suggest a later date for the picture.
1896: The close resemblance of the view to that seen in Whistler's later nocturne, the lithotint, The Thames c161, done from the Savoy Hotel in 1896, suggests that Whistler was returning to earlier subjects at this very late date.
Grey and Silver: The Thames is very close in size to La Sylphide [YMSM 494], which has been dated between 1896 and 1900. Furthermore, the unlined, fine plain open weave canvas is of the same type as the unlined canvas for Study of an Italian Boy [YMSM 514], which is recorded as dating from between 1897 and 1900. 3
This adds substance to the suggestion that Grey and Silver: The Thames could date from as late as 1896, and would in that case be Whistler's last oil Nocturne.
Last updated: 21st October 2020 by Margaret