Blue and Silver: Screen, with Old Battersea Bridge dates from between 1871 and 1873. 1
1866-1870: The screen incorporates paintings by Nanpo Jyoshi (Osawa Nampo, b. 1845) that are signed and dated 1866 and 1867, and were sent to Europe before 1871. They are now on the verso of the screen, but it is not known when these paintings and Whistler's work, which are on separate supports, were framed back to back and made into a screen.
1871: Whistler's painting is dominated by the piers of old Battersea Bridge, but the Albert Suspension Bridge is shown under construction in the background. Building on that bridge started in May 1871. According to The Times of 23 August, 'a timber staging resting upon piling across the river from shore to shore was completed and opened on Monday'. 2
Whistler's related drawings, including The new Albert Bridge, seen through old Battersea Bridge [M.0480], depict the preliminary timber superstructure of the two central pairs of towers, showing that the composition of the screen was planned in the summer of 1871.
1872: Whistler wrote in December to Charles William Deschamps (1848-1908), 'I am finishing a screen that I will only have this chance of showing you - and I have an idea that "something is to be done" - about which we might "dodge a means" - etc. - ! However come and see.' 3 By this he presumably meant that the screen could be exhibited, and perhaps in money or commissions.
1873: The Albert Suspension Bridge was completed.
1874: The screen was exhibited in Mr Whistler's Exhibition, Flemish Gallery, 48 Pall Mall, London, 1874 as 'Screen – Blue and Silver'.
Last updated: 28th December 2020 by Margaret