JMW Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed, 1844, National Gallery, London, UK.
JMW Turner‘s Rain, Steam, and Speed is a masterpiece of Victorian Romanticism infused with hopes, fears, and reminisces. It catapults the viewer into the path of an oncoming train. Modernity cannot be avoided.
Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837 to begin a 63-year-long reign known as the Victorian era. It was an era marked by intense technological change and industrialization. One of the great symbols of the industrialized Victorian era was the rising presence of trains in everyday British lives. The first passenger trains were developed in the 1830s. By 1844, inexpensive one-penny commutes became possible under the Railway Regulation Act. This price regulation promoted a market boom to use more than 3200 kilometers of railway tracks circuiting the British cities and countryside. Within a short 15 years, the British public had adopted trains as a preferred means of transportation. Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) captures this exciting revolutionary method of travel through his painting Rain, Steam, and Speed – The Great Western Railway. It is a masterpiece of Victorian Romanticism infused with hopes, fears, and reminisces.