Joseph Mallord William TurnerSnow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth exhibited 1842

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Artwork details

Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth
Date exhibited 1842
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 914 x 1219 mm frame: 1233 x 1535 x 145 mm
Acquisition Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
Not on display

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