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

Artwork details

Artist
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
On display at Tate Britain
Exhibition: Late Turner

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