Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Turner's Wreck of a Transport and The Hobbit
As I wandered round the Turner exhibition at the National Maritime Museum I'd try to estimate where the horizon line dividing the two was on the canvas.
Usually the picture was dominated by sky, with land or sea only taking 20 - 40% of the picture, giving lots of room for big billowing clouds framing beams of light.
The Wreck of a Transport, however, had almost half sea - implausibly wild waves that an admiral agreed would be unsurvivable for the transport ship here.
To be honest this one didn't feel convincing: it felt like a normal storm with the height scale pushed up to 11.
It reminded me of why, unlike Lord of the Rings, the two Hobbit movies failed. Both ended with chases that defied belief, pushing beyond the book's solid story into extremes and implausibility.
But it shows Turner's desire for drama, to catch the eye and make a statement, and of his love of sea and boats.
So if this was a lesser Turner, what makes a greater one?