Cremorne Gardens, No. 2 is an oil on canvas painting created by American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler between 1872 and 1877. The artwork depicts a fireworks display over London’s Cremorne pleasure gardens as viewed from the Battersea Bridge, with the industrial chimneys of Battersea visible on the left. The painting is a typifying example of Tonalism genre paintings and exemplifies an art for art’s sake philosophy. Its intangible approach in appearance and theme was deliberate, as typical for Whistler’s style.
This infamous painting was at the center of a libel suit involving Whistler and English critic John Ruskin, who publicly criticized the piece. It represents American culture and has inspired other works such as Thomas Robert Way’s lithograph that depicts a lost artwork by Whistler held during his bankruptcy. Furthermore, Brotherhood , a court métrage short film explores themes inspired by this artwork.
The piece is part of the Modern and Contemporary Art collection at The Met in New York City. During its creation time frame between 1870-1880s, Cremorne Gardens served as noisy pleasure gardens featuring restaurants, balloon ascents, dancing events amongst various entertainments that led to its portrayal in several artworks other than this painting alone.