View my previous blog here: http://bazzablog-uk.blogspot.com

I reply to all comments except spam, no matter how old!

Please ignore any email address displayed here! My email is shamp123 AT sky.com

Gmail has persistently ignored my request to change it even though it belongs to a minor.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Painting of the Month (53): April 2015: JMW Turner

Rain, Speed and Steam: The Great Western Railway
JMW Turner, 1844, Oil on Canvas
The French Impressionists acknowledged their debt to Turner and you can see why in this late masterpiece. The newly-laid Great Western Railway line ran from London to Bristol and Exeter. In this painting the train is viewed passing over Maidenhead Viaduct across the River Thames looking back east toward London. In his most famous painting, 'The Fighting Temeraire', Turner seemed to be mourning the passing of the old ways as the new took over. In this one he appears a little more sympathetic to the new technology although I think there is some ambiguity. A tiny hare can just about be seen in the right-hand corner of the painting (with enlargement). This has been cited as a reference to the limits of technology while others believe the animal is running in fear of the new machinery and Turner meant to hint at the danger of man's new technology destroying the inherent sublime elements of nature. A little easier to see is the little boat on the river to the left, which may have the same purpose. Apparently there is a ploughman in the distance, which I cannot see at all, presumably with a similar function.
Turner has very cleverly implied the speed of the train by the use of perspective with a central vanishing point which gives a steep, foreshortened view, drawing the eye strongly towards the centre thus conveying the feeling of high speed.

A further interesting point is the modern theory to why this master inspired the Impressionists with his 'fuzzy skies': towards the end of his life he was suffering with cataracts.
Listening to: Los Cuates De Sinaloa - 'Negro Y Azul: The Ballad of Heisenberg' from Breaking Bad. You can listen here

18 comments:

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Even then, people had problems with change because of new technology. It is a lovely picture, Bazza.

Dixie@dcrelief said...

Such a marvelous painting. The Plowman is just about the white stacks - between the first two. He's wearing a hat. I see the hare, but not readily his facial expression.

The train engine almost resembles a nice bottle of Cianti. You might be correct about his vision and the sky. Still I find it quite glorious, as if the sun's gold has bathed the clouds!

One of my favorite painters! Thank you, (smile).

loverofwords said...

I would love to go back to the UK and see the Turners again. I was amazed by their size. We entered the Tate dripping wet as we had been caught in a downpour. I was cold and angry because I had waited so long to see them and here we were. . . . There was a provision that I did not check where you could actually see sketches by Turner, after donning white gloves, of course. I wonder if they still do that.

bazza said...

Hi Arleen. Resistance to change probably goes back through all human history. Painting and most forms of creativity are a good way of pointing up that kind of observation!

bazza said...

Hi Dixie. I'm not sure about the ploughman/plowman; you could be right. I love the Chianti bottle analogy! And we definitely agree that it's a marvellous painting.

bazza said...

Hi Natasha. When you saw the Turners in the Tate was the wing of the Tate already open that contains only his work? The 'white glove' areas would normally be where only professional artists would go and possibly be handling some smaller pieces; you may have been specially privileged!
They have recently opened the Turner Contemporary in Margate on the Kent coast in a town that he was associated with.

All Consuming said...

One of my favourites of his, and so well described too bazza! The richness of the hues here is beautiful, and I particularly like the small hare. Fine post sir.

John said...

Hi Bazza!
One of my favourite artists! The 'fuzziness' I think brings more realism to the paintings, you can sense movement in them. Well, that's my take on it anyway!
J
Follow me at HEDGELAND TALES

bazza said...

Hi John. Your 'take' is as valuable as anyone else's! In some of his last pictures there is just a cloud of colour to be seen. See, for example,'Sun Setting over a Lake' at Google images.

bazza said...

AC: Thank you madam, you are too kind!

Sherry Ellis said...

I can barely see the hare. What an interesting thing to add to his painting, though. Thanks for explaining it.

bazza said...

Hi Sherry. Yes I didn't know about the hare until I researched this post but it is there. Artists often use half-hidden things in their pictures which tell a story of their own!

loverofwords said...

Yes, the wing was only Turners as I remember it. But apparently there was a small winding staircase, there in the wing somewhere, where one could get special permission to see the sketches, etc. The date was 1987, I think. I did not see the sketches.

bazza said...

I think that's still the same. Apparently they have as much stuff 'in reserve' as they do on display!

Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar! said...

Greetings, alleged human, bazza,

Oh my, I come to the comment section and I can no longer see the painting. My poor paws now have to put up your post on a second page. Have you ever thought of changing your comments application?

That Turner painting reminds me of one of my doggy poops. In a very nice way, of course.

Pawsitive wishes,

Penny

bazza said...

Wow Penny, you're much too technical for me. Not sure I follow you old chap. If your poops look like a Turner painting I can recommend a good vet!

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

"To Discover Ice" has been included in our Sites To See #436. Be assured that we hope this helps to point many new visitors in your direction.

http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2015/05/sites-to-see-436.html

bazza said...

Jerry: Thank you very much!