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An American in London: Whistler's paintings of Thames

15 May 2014 Last updated at 00:04 BST

Famed painter James McNeill Whistler was born in America but he spent most of his life in Victorian London.

And although his background was international - he was raised in Russia before training as an artist in France - much of his work focused on the local.

Throughout the 1860s and 1870s Whistler was drawn to the bustling and rapidly changing urban neighbourhood surrounding Battersea Bridge - and, of course, to the River Thames that flows beneath it.

Margaret MacDonald, one of the curators of "An American in London: Whistler and the Thames" at the Smithsonian's Arthur M Sackler Gallery in Washington DC, talked to the BBC about this pivotal period in Whistler's career.

Produced by the BBC's Bill McKenna; camera by Felicia Barr

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