Tate Britain Exhibition

Turner's Modern World

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed exhibited 1844. The National Gallery, London. © The National Gallery, London

How J.M.W. Turner broke with convention to paint the times in which he lived

One of Britain’s greatest artists, J.M.W. Turner lived and worked at the peak of the industrial revolution. Steam replaced sail; machine-power replaced manpower; political and social reforms transformed society.

Many artists ignored these advances but Turner faced up to these new challenges. This exhibition will show how he updated the language of art to produce revelatory interpretations of modern subjects.

Beginning in the 1790s, when Turner first observed the effects of modern life, the exhibition will follow his fascination for new industry and technology through to his famous paintings of steam boats and railway engines of the 1840s. It also looks at his engagement with the Napoleonic War and the other major political events of his lifetime, including the 1832 Reform Act and the campaign against slavery.

This landmark exhibition will bring together major works by Turner from around the world, including The Fighting Temeraire 1839 and Rain, Steam and Speed 1844. It will explore what it meant to be a modern artist in his lifetime and present an exciting new perspective on his work and life.

Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘The Burning of the Houses of Parliament’ c.1834–5
Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Burning of the Houses of Parliament c.1834–5
sea scene with boat and whale

Joseph Mallord William Turner Whalers c.1845 Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)

battlefield with bodies of soldiers and horses beneath a stormy sky

Joseph Mallord William Turner The Field of Waterloo c. 1817 Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge Bequeathed by A.W. Fawkes, 1942

Joseph Mallord William Turner, ‘Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth’ exhibited 1842
Joseph Mallord William Turner
Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth exhibited 1842
stormy sea with boats

Joseph Mallord William Turner Wreck of a Transport Ship c. 1801 Museu Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisbon

Tate Britain

London SW1P 4RG
Plan your visit


28 October 2020 – 7 March 2021

Tate Britain is open until 22.00 on the first Friday of every month (except January) for Late at Tate Britain

Booking is not available for this exhibition due to the disruption caused by coronavirus. We know this will be disappointing and we’re deeply sorry for the inconvenience caused. 

The safety of visitors and staff is always our first priority. We are following guidance from Public Health England. As things change, please check our FAQs for the latest updates.


£22 / FREE for Members

Concessions £20

Family child 12–18 years £5

Under 12s FREE (up to four per family adult)

16–25? Join Tate Collective for £5 tickets

School groups must be booked in advance

Tickets can be booked online or by phone on +44 (0) 20 7887 8888 (9.45–18.00 daily)

For further information see booking FAQs

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