AMY CONCANNON: This painting of ‘London from Greenwich Park’ shows the very famous viewpoint over Royal Greenwich, the bastion of royal power and naval strength that was depicted by many, many artists before Turner. NARRATOR:
Curator Amy Concannon. AMY CONCANNON: Turner’s viewpoint is from the top of Greenwich Park and we look out over the baroque towers of the Queen’s house designed by famous architect Inigo Jones and the naval college which was planned by Sir Christopher Wren. Another Wren building, St Paul’s Cathedral, can be seen looming up on the horizon, and Westminster Abbey can also be seen just to the left of it. For all the apparent straightforwardness of this view with the landmarks very clearly delineated there’s also a slightly subversive note that can be detected by Turner’s uniting of this image with verses that he’d written himself. In these one hundred and thirteen lines Turner puts forward the notion that progress and industrialisation obscure or might even eventually overtake the traditional foundations of power and brilliance that are symbolised in London. And here by the Royal Palaces, the navy, and the Church it’s almost prophetic of the intense industrialisation of the Thames that would take place in the 19th century. And the Thames was a very, very dirty, horrible, murky, industrialised area, certainly another 50 years hence from the date of this painting.