Whistler painted this scene on a very cold day in 1864 when the water of the Thames, visible from his Chelsea home, had partially frozen. Smokestacks rise from the opposite (Battersea) shore, and smoke from a lone steamboat mingles with the gray sky, but Whistler has otherwise dramatically abstracted London’s busy waterfront. Figures are clustered in the foreground–one appears to be nothing more than a brushstroke of ocher paint–interspersed with the lacy silhouettes of leafless trees.
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