Essay The Slave Ship J.M.W Turner

Words: 1590
Pages: 7


The Slave Ship

Slavers Overthrowing the Dead and Dying - Typhon coming on (“The Slave Ship”)

Turner, John Mallord William (1775-1851)
Romantic Landscape Painter

1840; Oil on canvas, 90.8 x 122.6 cm; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

"Aloft all hands, strike the top-masts and belay;
Yon angry setting sun and fierce-edged clouds
Declare the Typhon's coming.
Before it sweeps your decks, throw overboard
The dead and dying - ne'er heed their chains
Hope, Hope, fallacious Hope!
Where is thy market now?"
JMW Turner displayed this poem with his Slave Ship in 1812

Poem by Robert Bloomfield

The Slave Ship painting by British Artist Turner is said to have been inspired by the practice of the late eighteenth century
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The brush strokes blend together and the technique of impasto allows the thick application of the oil paint to create the bright sun. The colours chosen produce a realistic effect, the brush strokes are strong and at times appear aggressive at though the strength of the brushstroke can represent the strength of nature that the artist is portraying. The only part of the painting with strong definition and shading is the leg sticking out of the water. Special attention has been given to make sure this is not blurred or merging into its surroundings like the rest of the painting. This is for a reason and I do believe it is what draws your eye downward from the ship in a constructed manner purposely planned by the artist.

‘Though almost all of his critics believed that the painting represented an all time low in Turner's reckless disregard for the rules of art, it was in fact his greatest triumph in the sculptural carving of space’.

In conclusion I think that Turners Slave Ship is hugely successful and achieves a great deal. It reaches out to the viewer and calls on them to reflect on the subject matter in all its raw and base unpleasantness. It is a moving work of art which was ground breaking for its time, controversial in both its content and in the way it broke the rules of the Romantic era. The composition of the painting is both interesting