Art in the Age of Steam: Europe, America and the Railway, 1830-1960

Human Drama

Human Drama presents the railroad station and compartment as locations of potential narrative and drama. The railroad, used by all classes, was seen as a possible social leveler but also created anxiety about the classes mixing too freely. Artists such as Abraham Solomon in his various train compartment scenes, depict the vulnerability of middle-class women traveling unsupervised or the sadness of a young man’s departure for the colonies. Augustus Egg uses the railroad compartment to set off the slightly different personalities of two young ladies who may be twins, while Honoré Daumier incisively evokes the varying degrees of comfort and discomfort and differences of passenger behavior in first-, second- and third-class compartments.

Abraham Solomon, 1824-1862
First Class: The Meeting. . .and at First Meeting Loved (second version), 1855

Abraham Solomon, 1824-1862
Second Class: The Parting 'Thus part we rich in sorrow, Parting poor' (second version), 1855

Honoré Daumier, 1808-1879
Second Class Carriage, 1864

Augustus Egg, 1816-1863
The Travelling Companions, 1862

Frederick Bacon Barwell, English, 1830 - 1922
Parting Words, Fenchurch Street Station, 1859

Karl Wilhelm Hahn, 1829-1887
Sacramento Railroad Station, 1874

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