Joseph Mallord William Turner Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth exhibited 1842

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Artwork details

Title
Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth
Date Exhibited 1842
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 914 x 1219 mm
frame: 1233 x 1535 x 145 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Reference
N00530

Display caption

Turner painted many pictures exploring the effects of an elemental vortex. Here, there is a steam-boat at the heart of the vortex. In this context the vessel can be interpreted as a symbol of mankind’s futile efforts to combat the forces of nature.

It is famously said that Turner conceived this image while lashed to the mast of a ship during an actual storm at sea. This seems to be nothing more than fiction, but the story has endured as a way of demonstrating Turner’s full-blooded engagement with the world around him.

February 2004