T03212 LOCOMOTIVE c.1939–40
Oil on canvas, 25 × 39 3/4 (63.5 × 101.3)
Presented by the Elephant Trust 1981
Exh: Humphrey Jennings: Film Maker, Painter and Poet, Riverside Studios, January–February 1982 (3 as ‘Locomotive’ c.1936, dimensions incorrect)
Humphrey Jennings was greatly fascinated by locomotives, and one of the first films he made for the GPO Film Unit was Locomotives (1935) about the invention and history of the locomotive and the development of the railways. In an article ‘The Iron Horse’ published in the London Bulletin in June 1938 he called attention to the animal-like character of machines and of the steam railway in particular (‘Machines are animals created by man ... The idea of a machine which would go by itself (automatically - without the help of an animal) has long obsessed man because it could be considered to have a life of its own - to have become a complete pseudo-animal’). He was also joint organiser of an exhibition The Impact of Machines held at the London Gallery in July 1938 which gave special emphasis to locomotives and railways, and which included a painting of a locomotive made by him in 1938. The present work, with its linear accents, is clearly later in style.
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984