Charging into The Modern Turner's Rain, Steam and Speed

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Turner has out-prodiged almost all former prodigies. He has made a picture with real rain, behind which is real sunshine, and you expect a rainbow every minute. Meanwhile, there comes a train down upon you, really moving at the rate of fifty miles a hour, and which the reader had best make haste to see, lest it should dash out of the for the manner in which ‘Speed’ is done, of that the …

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…was social Darwinism a nation had to become a ‘progressive, civilizing force’ in order to justify its imperialist/capitalist endeavors (enacted against a ‘less civilized’ anachronistic other — at home and abroad), as well as stave off colonization by a more progressive adversary. Thus, even though this painting embodies, on one level, the contemporary anxieties about new technology, it also participates in a larger discourse about progress, capitalism, colonialism and ultimately the condition of modernity itself.