after Joseph Mallord William Turner

Rain, Steam, and Speed, engraved by R. Brandard

published 1859–61

After Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775–1851
Engraving on paper
Image: 190 × 263 mm
support: 268 × 222 mm
Transferred from the British Museum 1988

Display caption

Turner’s painting, reproduced in this engraving, seems to summarise modernity for Turner’s generation. A steam train speeds along a bridge (probably Maidenhead Bridge over the Thames) whilst a vortex of rain swirls around it. Ahead of the train runs a tiny hare, a traditional, natural emblem of speed.

However, the power and significance of this image seems to lie as much in its purely formal evocation of the speed and power of modern life. Critics who saw the original painting were baffled, but also fascinated, by the artist’s treatment of such an up-to-date theme, especially his dramatic evocation of speed.

Gallery label, September 2004

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