Rain, Steam and Speed by JMW Turner

JMW Turner‘s landscapes have a divine, surrealistic and symbolic quality. His paintings may be viewed as abstractions and an effort on his part to focus on the interplay between light and its surrounding atmosphere. While he was highly influenced by Nicholas Poussin, the impressionist angle presented by Turner was uniquely his. He is considered to be the Romantic prelude to Impressionism.

Turner breaks light  and makes us immerse ourselves into his genius renditions of nature. His paintings seem to leave the subjects behind, presenting color and impressions in their full glorious element. His fascination for the color “yellow” did not go unnoticed. So much so, that one of his friends even wondered aloud whether he has been affected by “yellow fever.” If viewed as a venn diagram, his art space could be defined as the one that is formed by overlapping Romanticism, the Realism, Impressionism and even Abstract Expressionism circles.

Rain, Steam and Speed – The Great Western Railway (1844)  is one of JMW Turner’s masterpieces in which water, land, sky and a man-made symbol of industrialization come together in a tight frame. A hazy atmosphere caused by lashing rain over foggy clouds of steam from the speeding train presented an intimidating scenario at the time. The vanishing perspective employed by Turner provides an interesting view to the painting. All the elements in the painting blend and merge into one another – except for the train that stands out like an iron beast in yellow-blue-gray background.

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