The Chase: Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed

Inigo Thomas reconsiders J.M.W. Turner’s Rain, Steam and Speed: The Great Western Railway (1844).

Thomas asks: “chasing after hares is as old as any ancient rite, but who or what is hunting the hare in Turner’s painting? Is it just a train, and how familiar, really, is that location? You can shut down the iconographical interpretation of art, with its artistic and literary allusions, and concentrate instead on Turner’s painterliness, but with Rain, Steam and Speed you might be missing something if you do. What happens if you look at it as a mythological painting, like [Titian’s] Diana and Actaeon, a study of the hunter and the hunted, the hubris of the one and the elusiveness of the other?”