To coincide with a major exhibition of the work of JMW Turner (1775-1851), Royal Museums Greenwich will host an innovative, interdisciplinary conference exploring the cultural impact of the sea in the 19th century. The exhibition will be the first full-scale examination of Turner’s lifelong preoccupation with the sea, and features many of the artist’s most celebrated works, from his transformative Academy paintings of the late 1790s and early 1800s to the unfinished, experimental seascapes he produced towards the end of his life.
Paintings on display will include Fishermen at Sea (Tate),The Wreck of a Transport Ship (Museu Calouste Gulbenkian), The Battle of Trafalgar (Royal Museums Greenwich), The Fighting ‘Temeraire’ (National Gallery),Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth (Tate) and Whalers (Metropolitan Museum of Art). By placing these and other works alongside those by other British, European and American marine artists, the exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to discover the myriad ways in which Turner responded to the maritime art of the past while challenging his audiences with new ways of representing the sea.
The aim of the conference is to locate the art of the sea within a broader maritime context, and to explore the cultural and political significance of the sea in the 19th century. We anticipate that the conference will be organised around themes suggested by works in the exhibition. These may include (but are not limited to):
• The sea as a conduit of trade and empire
• Maritime disaster and lifesaving
• The symbolism of the ship
• War and conflict at sea
• The coast as a site of labour and leisure
• Maritime technology and the industrial sea
We are especially keen to consider proposals that present new research or methodological approaches, or which take an interdisciplinary approach to the 19th-century sea. We are delighted to announce that Dr Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, will give the conference keynote lecture.
Please e-mail proposals of 250 words (for papers of around 20 minutes) to Lizelle de Jager at firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 6 September 2013.
Turner and the Sea is open at the National Maritime Museum from 22 November 2013 to 21 April 2014, before travelling to the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA from 4 June to 1 September 2014.