Research Point: Urban Landscapes

Looking at various artists approach to the urban Landscape.  I was interested to see how these artists evoked the reality of life in  (smoggy, dirty, overcrowded, industrial) London through different approaches to their work.

Early in the nineteenth century, Turner’s willingness to include the smoke and fog of London in his paintings was unusual. Alongside his concern with history, he remained fascinated by modern developments, including the industrialisation that others deplored. His view of The Thames above Waterloo Bridge shows the city’s factories and river traffic producing fumes which all but obscure the bridge.

The Thames above Waterloo Bridge c.1830-5 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856
The Thames above Waterloo Bridge c.1830-5 Joseph Mallord William Turner 1775-1851 Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

James Abbott McNeill Whistler:  The last of old westminster (1862) takes a different, more defined approach to portraying the mess and dirtiness of urban London. Whistler immersed himself in the life of Victorian London, with a particular focus on the bustling neighborhood surrounding Battersea Bridge, including the workers and women who frequented the Thames-side wharves and pubs, the barges that navigated the perilous passage under the bridges, and the steamboats and wherries crowded with daytrippers that paddled up and down Battersea Reach.


Claude Monet ( painted a series of oil paintings of the Palace of Westminster, home of the British Parliament, in the fall of 1899 and the early months of 1900 and 1901 during stays in London.  All of the series’ paintings share the same viewpoint from Monet’s window. They are painted during different times of the day and weathers.

I really like the impressionistic approach to these pictures, with the colours and hazy effect.  Monet seems less concerned with evoking the negative views of London- these are beautiful.

200px-Claude_Monet_-_Le_Parlement,_coucher_de_soleilHouses of Parliament, London, ca. 1904, Kunsthaus Zürich

200px-Westminster_ParlementLe Parlement de Londres, soleil couchant, 1903, National Gallery of ArtWashington, DC.


Houses of Parliament, London, 1900-1901 The Art Institute of Chicago


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