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The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution

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You might think of Joseph Mallord William Turner as the great English painter of landscapes and pictorial effects: wild seas, dramatic skies and glowing sunsets. But this film looks at another side to Turner – how industry and scientific progress were his inspiration and often at the heart of his work.

Born in London’s Covent Garden in 1775, Turner lived through the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution, and “used paint to herald a new world”, not of dark, satanic mills but of glowing furnaces and galloping steam trains and powerful tugboats.

The explanations of The Fighting Temeraire and Rain, Steam and Speed are detailed and fascinating – Simon Schama is one of many experts analysing the “maelstrom of paint”. And Turner’s notebooks, with quick sketches of his father or a passing boat, are simply magical.


Docu-drama revealing there is more to painter JMW Turner than his famous landscapes, examining key paintings incorporating machines, science and technology that reflect the scientific and industrial revolutions he lived through. Including interviews with historian Simon Schama and artist Tracey Emin. Narrated by Samuel West, with Thomas Coombes portraying Turner.

Cast & Crew

JMW Turner Thomas Coombes
Simon Schama
Tracey Emin
Samuel West
Director Clare Beavan
Executive Producer Richard Fell
Producer Clare Beavan
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