Turner Heaving Coals

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

Actually this is entitled Keelmen Heaving in Coals by Moonlight. Turner painted this  moonlit view of ships on the River Tyne in 1835. I had to look this up but keelmen were stevedores who largely transferred coal from barges (keels) to oceangoing vessels.

Glorious really. Just sense your eyes being drawn through the ship cluttered river channel through to the distant irradiating sky and water.

This painting  was commissioned as a symbolic salute to commerce by Henry McConnel, a British textile manufacturer, as a pendent to Venice: The Dogana and San Giorgio Maggiore shown below. What a contrast in mood if not meaning. The scene  basks in the warm Mediterranean sunlight and relates to  trade, seemingly ancient, of  luxury goods, of which no doubt silk formed part, whereas the Tyneside companion piece reveals sooty modern industry chilled by the colors of the North Sea winter’s night.

I think the patron had excellent  taste and can take some credit for the concept. Unfortunately he had to sell the pictures during a business downturn. He much regretted selling these Turners and tried, unsuccessfully, to buy at least one of them back. Luckily they remain together today and can be seen at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC (to avoid all doubt – there is a Washington close to the Tyne itself).

Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC


About The Weary Traveller

I like to walk up and down hills. I've been so very fortunate to have lived most of my life in the Far East (Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the Middle East (Qatar, Oman and U.A.E). I now live and work in Bangkok. I'm past the half century now and can't help but feel that some of the mountains that I've climbed lately I should have done yesteryear. The mind is willing if the legs are not always so. Here are some stories and realized dreams of hills climbed and, dales and deserts crossed. With a bit of art thrown in. I hope you might enjoy.
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2 Responses to Turner Heaving Coals

  1. I am enjoying your art series. Keep them coming. Educational too – e.g. usage of ‘pendent’.

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