Crossing continents - America and beyond

A steam train in the mid-distance passing through countryside fields

'The Lackawanna Valley', George Inness, National Gallery of Art, Washington

American painters were more willing than Europeans to include railways in their landscapes.  Americans took pride in industrial progress, and did not see it as a threat to the beauties of nature. 

But artists rarely showed trains in close-up.  Even in The Lackawanna Valley by George Inness, the most important American railway landscape painting, the train is in the middle distance.

The railway was closely linked with the conquest of the American desert and the advance of settlers from the east to west coast. Railway companies employed painters and photographers to record and advertise the progress of the new railway lines.

Railway images from India, Africa and Japan are included in this section, as a reminder that the railway was a global phenomenon. Britain supplied railway equipment and expertise throughout the Empire and beyond, and British photographers recorded the progress of the railway as colonial rule was extended.

Artists featured in this section of the exhibition: - George Inness, Jasper Francis Cropsey, Thomas Proudley Otter, Andrew Melrose, Henry Farny, Albert Bierstadt, Andrew J Russell, Alexander Gardner, William Henry Jackson, Carleton Watkins, Samuel Bourne, William D Young, Kiyochika Kobayashi, Kokunimasa (Ryua).