Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




The Old World Towed by the New

The beginnings of the modern age



The devilish little steamship puffed out an odious and ghost-like stream of smoke, glowing red and ominous, while behind it the brave old ship followed at a slow pace, sad and majestic, marked by the sign of Death.

Adapted from William Makepeace Thackeray, after 1839


A forerunner to the inventions of James Watt


She had served her country well and now her

day was past, and England mourned. The fighting "Temeraire", as John Ruskin and other Englishman had called her, was the symbol of heroism at sea. When the British and French fleets clashed at Trafalgar on 21 October 1805, the Temeraire was the second ship of the English line. Although Admiral Nelson, the commander of the British fleet, died of a gunshot wound on the deck of her sister ship, the "Victory", he had carried the day. Outnumbered by six ships, his fleet of twenty-seven had trounced the French. The Temeraire played an important part in the victory at Trafalgar, which was to assure British supremacy at sea for another century. She had decoyed French fire, which was aimed at Nelson and the flagship, away from the Victory and had captured a prize. At the end of the battle, as a contemporary records, she was almost hidden between two French ships secured to her mainmast and her anchor.

Some thirty years later, Joseph Mallord William Turner  was deeply moved watching the gallant old ship being towed from Sheerness to the breakers yard at Deptford. However, the brilliant painter of atmospheric effects and moods was not just thinking of farewells. He was also looking forward to new beginnings. In 1765, ten years before Turner was born, James Watt had triggered the Industrial Revolution in England by inventing the steam engine. Turner was fascinated by the marvels of technology that were emerging all around him. He was among the first to paint pictures, dramatically experimental ones, of modern means of transportation, such as trains and steamships. Both the magnificence and the threatening aspect of such inventions are revealed in his paintings of them. An observer might find symbolism in the Temeraire's last voyage: the tugboat towing her under steam representing the New Order and all its ambivalence, the sailing vessel the Old — already transfigured in memory.


Joseph Mallord William Turner
The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to Her Last Berth to Be Broken Up
The National Gallery, London

Joseph Mallord William Turner
Rain, Steam and Speed The Great Western Railway


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