The Slave Ship Landscape Analysis

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Any work of art is viewed and created through a lens crafted by the viewer’s society. While this certainly applies to portraits, histories and other depictions of daily life, this still holds true for landscape. How the landscape is represented in a work of art is dependent on the cultural constructs of the artist, or the viewers, society. Different cultures view and create landscapes very differently. For example, European Romantic artwork is extremely different in its depictions of landscape from Japanese Ukiyo-e landscapes. In J.M.W. Turner’s The Slave Ship, the landscape is depicted as a very strong force, a very Romantic idea. Even the titular slave ship is more of a background object and the focus in on the brilliant red sunset and the tumultuous sea. Upon closer inspection, the viewer realizes with faint horror, that the foreground is scattered with bodies floating, or rather being pushed and pulled by the violent sea. Fitting in the Romantic ideals, nature is depicted as a force stronger than man and grander than any man-made object like the ship. Even Turner’s brushstrokes seem frenzied, perfectly matching the scene he is depicting. In Hokusai’s South Wind, Clear Morning, the landscape is a picture of tranquility. While it doesn’t suggest inaction (on the contrary, it evokes a clear sense of rolling waves), it suggests a…show more content…
Turner’s The Slave Ship, for a number of reasons. For example, they both are created by European artists and have landscapes that have a slight tension in them. However, Avenue de l’Observatoire draws its tension from its subject manner. Paris, in the dead of night as fog befalls the streets is a very chilling subject to be photographing. The Slave Ship, however, draws its tension from the feeling of incongruity of its parts. The bodies floating in the turbulent waves and the stark angles of the ship contrast greatly with the gold and scarlet
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