Art in the Age of Steam at The Walker


This excellent exhibition finishes on 10 August 2008 so if you haven’t seen it yet you don’t have much longer.

Its by no means just pictures of steam trains, its more a fascinating portrayal of society and the traversing of frontiers as this new form of transport revolutionised travel. I love the large landscapes – some with the train and track cutting through the middle regardless of its surroundings but others with the trains off to one side meandering its way through the mountainside.

Art in the Age of Steam, at the Walker Art Gallery 18 April – 10 August 2008, is the most wide-ranging exhibition yet held to look at how artists responded to the extraordinary impact that steam trains had on landscape and society. It is one of the top attractions during Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture year.

About 100 paintings, photographs, prints and drawings – transported from some of the world’s greatest art collections – come together in a dazzling display covering the years 1830 to 1960.

Among the masterpieces assembled for the exhibition are: The Railway by Edouard Manet (National Gallery of Art, Washington), La Crau from Montmajour, with train (British Museum, London) by Van Gogh, Lordship Lane Station by Camille Pissarro (Courtauld Institute of Art, London), four paintings by Claude Monet – including Gare Saint-Lazare (National Gallery, London) – and The Third-class Carriage by Honoré Daumier (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa).

Later works include paintings such as Railroad Sunset by Edward Hopper (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York) and The Anxious Journey by Giorgio de Chirico (Museum of Modern Art, New York), along with photographs by Bill Brandt, Alfred Stieglitz and O. Winston Link.

British artists are represented by one of the best loved of all railway images, The Travelling Companions by Augustus Egg (Birmingham Museums & Art Gallery) showing two crinoline-clad girls in a luxurious railway compartment, while The Railway Station by William Powell Frith (Royal Holloway College, Surrey) vividly captures the hustle and bustle of Paddington station. Others include David Cox, Abraham Solomon, James Tissot, Spencer Gore, Eric Ravilious and Terence Cuneo.

The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool