1800-1848
Industrial Revolution I

Turner's Rain, Steam, and Speed –
The Great Western Railway



Joseph Mallord William Turner, Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway,
oil on canvas, 1844 (National Gallery, London)


Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris, Dr. Steven Zucker

Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway was exhibited at the Royal Academy
in 1844. It depicts the Maidenhead Railway Bridge (completed (1838) looking east, across
the River Thames between Taplow and Maidenhead.

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Daniel Pigeon wrote on Thursday, March 31, 2011

Turner's work is incredibly modern for its time. Not only in subject matter, displaying modern technology but also in style. It is comparable to many mid twenty first century paintings like that of Rothko. Turner submerges the subject matter in a sea of subtle tonal values. It is so close to being completely lost, although grounds the image with an instant of clarity. Remove that instant of clarity and they become completely abstract.

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