Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket’ is a painting by James Whistler which he completed in 1875. It depicts Cremorne Gardens, which was a popular spot for people to gather near the River Thames at night. When this painting was first exhibited in 1877, there was much dispute about it among its viewers. Some disliked the piece because of its lack of clear focal point and its moody atmosphere which seemed to be presented without reason or excuse.
It is believed that James Whistler wanted to show the energy of modern life with ‘Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket’. He used swirls of vibrant colours to present his take on British culture at this time. Even though the painting led to controversy initially, nowadays many believe it captures perfectly the Victorian-era cityscape, with its busy public parks and amusement grounds.
Whilster painted other nocturne canvases such as ‘Harmony In Grey And Green: Miss Cicely Alexander’, which dates back to 1872-74. In this painting, he created a calming seascape – a far cry from the darker tones associated with ‘Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket’. This artwork highlighted Whilster’s talent for mixing both light and dark in his works; first creating striking compositions with deep shadows then uniting them with warmer hues resulting in interesting and dramatic paintings that featured distinct British style at their core.