Depiction Of Storm In Paintings

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A gifted and imaginative child, Joseph Mallord William turner was the most original artist in the history of English landscape painting, Turner was fascinated by the effects of light. Turner had travelled widely and produced a vast amount of work, his style changed considerably over the years, ranging from accurate, topographical watercolours in his early years to grand landscapes in the classical manner that he painted after his trip to Italy.[1] By 1805, Turner became progressively influenced by romanticism, his artwork became more freer and more expressive, he thrived to capture the power and beauty of nature in brilliant landscapes depicting violent storms.

“…slow, sad, majestic, follows the brave old hip, with death, as it were, written on her.” Turners 1839 masterpiece, ‘The Fighting Temeraire” shows a large ships, almost like an apparition, gliding toward the viewer. The Fighting Temeraire is being towed to shore to be broken up,the full name to the painting is ‘The Fighting Temeraire being towed to her last berth to be scrapped’ Turner took factual license in composing this painting. Two tug boats were hired to haul the ship down the Thames, but in Turner’s painting there’s just one tug boat, adding to the ignominy of the event. The Termeraire appears shimmering and majestic, but also ghostlike, behind the sooty tug with its tall black smokestack spouting a stream of exhaust and flames. In the distance to the right, there is a slowly setting moon. There are many factors in this work that helps make it so memorable and moving to the audience; the intelligently composed balance of light and composition, and the emotion inherent in the visual symbols. It’s almost a metaphor for the journey of life, the collapse of this aged sailing ship represents the end of an era.

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The industrial tug that can be seen pulling the Temeraire, where turner has chosen to emphasize the contrast between the ugly, blackened, steampowered tug and the majestic white sailing ship. The tug is a symbol of the evils of the british industrial revolution but turners other work does not support this. While the Temeraire had been through conflict for several years, her rigging and paint was peeling off the timbers. Turner, however, has chosen to present the audience with an elegant, romantic vision in white and gold, complete with masts, which he further thought would be more fitting for a ship whose name means bold and fearless. In the far back of the painting, there is another ghostly ship on the horizon. Turner included this to remind us how the Temeraire must have appeared in her full glory. However, this tall-masted ship has almost faded from view, so perhaps it serves to reinforce the theme of the painting: the end of the era of the sailing ship and the irrevocable transition to the age of steam power. A barely visible, silver rising moon in the sky, reflects down into the water beneath, glinting on the rolled-up sails on the masts and on the foam created by the paddles on the tug. The silvery light reinforces the ethereal paleness of the ship and contrast strongly with the fiery tones of the setting sun. Along the right side of the rising moon, is a symbolic setting sun, representing the passing of the age of sail as well as the demise of the temeraire. The blood orange sky, reflected in the surface of the water, shows us the sacrifices made by the british navy at the Battle of Trafalgar. The Temeraire is positioned well to the left of the work but its visual weight is accurately balanced by the glowing sunset that dominates the whole right side of Turners composition. In context, the Temeraire was a vital part in one of the most famous sea battles in naval history. The Battle of Trafalgar. [2]

Another incredibly beautiful yet terrifying painting Turner has complete is the Slave Ship, its original name was Slave Ship – Slavers Throwing overboard the Dead and Dying; Typhoon coming on. When viewers first come across this painting, it looks beautiful and elegant, it has oranges and reds in the sky that people immediately recognise as Turners typical sunset. Through getting lost in the thick sensuality of the paint, the eye will travel lower to the bottom right-hand corner, and, in a moment of horror, there is a foot shackled in chains. This innocent piece quickly turns from a seascape, to an event that isn’t about light on the water or the scenery. There is carnage on the lower half of the artwork, and we see that right in the closest part of the painting on the right. In the distance, there is a slave ship, carrying many slaves. This is based on a poem but turner has already shown what will happen in reality and not just once but many times. With the storm that is obviously present in the piece, the captain of the ship decided to throw the slaves overboard. Apparently, that was the only way they could receive the insurance, if the slaves died of illness or if something else happened on board, the captain couldn’t collect the insurance. The captain has thrown the slaves overboard and that’s what the audience can see in the water. Turner has included only fragments or moments of their bodies, and there is a swirl of waves and colours. Again Turner has shown the mixture of the beauty of nature, the power and this horrific human act that is within the context of a much wider horrfic human act of slavery. Turner has given a sense of divine retribution, the storm coming for that slave ship that’s been dealing with human lives, and the punishment wrecked by nature is justified on that ship, but there is also a sense that has shown that the total indifference of nature because the same storm that’s going to overcome that slave ship is also going to drown the slaves themselves. The first owners of this painting was a great Victorian art critic John Ruskin. Slavery, we have to remember, is still a really active political cause at this moment. This idea that human beings could do this to each other, not just in the form of actual slavery, of buying and selling human beings, but also in terms of taking advantage of one another just for the sake of money. Of course, that’s the kernel of this hideous act that the captain engages in here. Turner has put different colours to the left border of the painting, there are whites and blues and purples and greys, that are not seens in the rest of the painting. Ruskin wrote, “ Purple and blue, the lurid shadows of the hollow breakers, are cast upon the mist of night, advancing like the swallow of death upon the guilty ship, its thin masts written upon the sky in lines of blood.”


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