November 10, 2004
One London drama and two London tourist snaps

I kind of, vaguely, it must have happened, realised that the Houses of Parliament got burned down some time around when it actually did happen, which was 1834. But I never knew Turner had done a picture of it. Better yet, he actually witnessed it.

This (click to get it bigger) is my favourite of the pictures he did of this dramatic occurrence:

TurnerFire.jpg

Those miniature Twin Towers must be Westminster Abbey.

This other painting looks odd to me, although it seems to be a bit more famous. The smoke and the bridge collide in a strangely unrealistic fashion, I think. Although, maybe that's what it did look like.

No fire for Turner to paint, and there would have been no this …

ParliamentDuskS.jpg

… snapped by me a few evenings ago. Commonplace to Londoners. A picture postcard view. (I only did it because I was trying to get the pink vapour trails.) But this is the Internet! I find it hard to believe sometimes, but there are wretches who do not live in London, and who, worse, seldom even visit. And some of these pitifuls have computers and Internet connections, to keep them in touch with civilisation. These people badly need to be shown views such as this.

And I might as well get shot of this shot too, another tourist view, which I took a few moments earlier, looking the other way along the river. The Hungerford Footbridges, which you can just about make out, are the ones with the oddly directed spikes, on either side of the original and very mundane rail bridge.

WheelDuskS.jpg

By the way, the bridge I was on when I took this (Westminster Bridge) is not the one featured in Turner's painting, for that too has been replaced.

Will I ever myself witness anything as dramatic as that fire? If I do, will I have my camera with me? And will my pictures come out as well as Turner's (good) painting?

If the Wheel fell over, would there be warning and could I rush out to catch it falling? Would they replace it? They might. It's very popular.

I wonder what a photo of the fire Turner painted would have looked like. If Photoshop had been invented first, would oil painting (like paper compared to computer screens) have been regarded as an improvement?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:16 PM
Category: LondonPaintingPhotography