Great British Art: Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway by Turner


This week’s art is one of my favorite paintings by J.M.W. Turner. This painting is called Rain, Steam and Speed –
The Great Western Railway and was painted in 1844 when railroads were still a new and somewhat scary thing – which I think the painting conveys wonderfully. The Great Western Railway (GWR) was one of a number of private British railway companies created to develop the new means of transport. The location of the painting is widely accepted as Maidenhead Railway Bridge, across the River Thames between Taplow and Maidenhead. The view is looking east towards London. The bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and completed in 1838. If you have an eagle eye, you can spot a hare running away from the train which many think was making a statement about man’s new technology disrupting the peace and quiet of nature. It’s currently on display in the National Gallery in London.

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  1. avatarDiane Clement says

    Well, I think the hares and foxes have learned (learnt!) to live with the trains as I have seen the foxes simply staring back at me when I whiz by on a train and the hares along that route from Darlington to Whitby (in 1990) seemed to be holding conferences as they were all arranged in circles, each one stretched out on the natural grass in a field–made me instantly imagine a story about rabbits from all the local rabbit villages gathering to discuss regional conditions or perhaps to share some rabbit poetry or tips on where to find the most luscious carrots and lettuces. I also quickly understood where all the marvelous animal tales came from. My kids loved the books about Wilberforce who was a mole, I think. Great stuff!

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