Nocturne – when night falls, Pastel, 20×65 cm,
© 2015, Astrid Volquardsen
My cover painting for the next show: Nocturne – when night falls. I think I never have shown this in full scale. The almost monochromatic eveninge hours are something very special, when shapes and colors beginn to dissolve. The lights from the boats and ships give this beautiful contrast.
The definition »Nocturne« for this kind of painting goes back to the american painter James MCNeill Whistler (1834- 1903). He received his art education in St. Petersburg and Paris but decided in 1859 to settle in London, where he painted the monochromatic night views of the Themes. He called these first oil paintings of this series »moonlight.« During a visit with his patron Frederick Leyland, a great musik lover and admirer of the composer Frederick Chopin, Leyland made the suggestion to name these paintings »Nocturne«. Whistler later said:
I say I can’t thank you too much for the name ‘Nocturne’ as a title for my moonlights! You have no idea what an irritation it proves to the critics and consequent pleasure to me—besides it is really so charming and does so poetically say all that I want to say and no more than I wish.
Before Whistler a lot of painters have painted the night like Rembrand or George La Tour, but the term »Nocturne« is now associated with Whistler and contemporary artist in England and America used it as a general term for their night pieces.