Coal - Abomination of Work, Mahanoy Valley

Joseph Pennell, 1908

WAG 671

About this object

Coal breakers high on the hilltops above the river valley are obscured by the cloudy sky filled with thick black smoke. Dead tree stumps illustrate the destruction of natural life and the hillsides appear dark emulating the colour of coal.

Despite the title of this work, Pennell had no interest in the social or environmental effects of industry. He admired the wonder of work so much that he commented, “While the coming of electricity would make for a cleaner and more healthful environment, it would destroy the city’s picturesqueness by eliminating the smoke”.

Object specifics

  • Artist(s)
    Joseph Pennell (American, born:1857-07-04, died:1926-04-23)
  • Date
  • Materials
    Paper; Ink; Etching; Dry point
  • Measurements
    plate mark: 19.8 cm x 24.9 cm
  • Physical description
    Valley with meandering river and tree stumps in the foreground. The sky is filled with clouds and thick smoke.
  • Related people
    Joseph Pennell (Artist/maker)
  • Other number(s)
    WAG Inventory Number: 671; Accession Number: WAG 671
  • Credit line
    Purchased by the Walker Art Gallery from the Liverpool Autumn Exhibition in 1909
  • Location
    Sudley House, First Floor, Special Exhibitions Room
  • Collection
    From the Walker Art Gallery collections


Item inscriptions

  • Inscription text: J Pennell
    Inscription method: Pencil
    Inscription note:
    Inscription location: Below plate
Object view = Fine Art
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