Billie Silvey
Social Effects
Industrial Revolution
April 2007
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3 Reformers
It was voted "the Greatest Painting in Britain" in a poll by
the National Gallery and the BBC, and it's certainly one
of my favorites.  It's called
The Fighting Temeraire,
and it was painted in 1839 by the Impressionist J.M.W.

Temeraire had played an important role in Nelson's
victory over the French at Trafalgar in 1805.  She
remained in service until 1838, when she was towed up
the Thames to be broken up.

Turner portrays the passing of the old warship against a
vivid sunset, its grace and beauty in stark contrast with
the new steam-driven tug belching smoke into its
meticuously-drawn masts.

I see it as a picture of the Industrial Revolution, which
transformed the world between 1750 and 1830 from a
largely rural population engaged mostly in agriculture to
an urban society of factory workers.

The most far-reaching transformation of human culture
since agriculture began thousands of years earlier, the
Industrial Revolution profoundly changed, not just
technology, but family, economic, social and
environmental values, bringing to an end many beautiful
things in the name of progress.

Whether you consider it an illustration of progress or of
loss depends on the way you look at the world.  
Rationalists tend to see it as progress; Romantics, as

As a Romantic, I can't help looking back with nostalgia
at a slower, simpler, more beautiful, even more humane
In this month's website, I present a
history of the
Industrial Revolution, discuss
social changes resulting
from it that affect us even today, and look at its influence
on the
arts and religious thought.

What is a favorite painting of yours?  What period of
history is most important to you?  Just click on the link
and send me an email at
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