View of Deptford Power Station from Greenwich

The painting depicts a view of Deptford Power Station from Greenwich, with its three concrete chimneys rising up on the left, belching black smoke into the pale sky. In front of the power station, various vessels are ranged in the river, with the livery of their funnels indicating different ownerships. Painted in thick impasto, and bleached of colour, the impact of the picture is provided by contrasts between light and dark. The river and sky have received the same treatment of thick impasto paint, and hints of ochre towards the edges. The artist uses colour sparingly, principally ochre, blue, black, red and white. Both the shipping and the ghostly buildings and industrial equipment associated with docks are implied on the horizon to the right. Towards the centre of the picture, a larger ship has been delineated showing its bow and with a red marking on its funnel. Other shapes in the water are black by comparison. The features of the scene have been briefly delineated, including the railed river walk in front of the the Royal Naval College, with the dark brickwork of Greewich Pier beyonnd and the dome of the 1902 Greenwich foot tunnel under the river. Described as a great visual recorder of the last days of the Industrial Revolution, Lowry painted very few pictures of London. He was concerned with immense industrial buildings at the heart of manufacturing towns and the effect this landscape had on the inhabitants. He was an observer and wrestled with isolation and depression for much of his life. Here he ignores the famous historic buildings of Greenwich, just out of frame to the left, and the humans have also been been pushed to the far left of the picture space. Cranes rise out of the mist at far right. Lowry's interpretation is a disquieting vision, revealing a sense of alienation and man's inconsequence against the juggernaut of industrialization, though circumstances have entirely transfomed this view. Deptford Power Station dated to the 1890s, but the buildings shown here were mainly put up (with two chimneys) in the late 1920s: a third was added in post-war expansion. By the mid 1980s the entire structure had been closed and demolished, and was replaced by blocks of mainly high-value riverside apartments during the 1990s.

Object Details

ID: BHC1806
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Lowry, Laurence Stephen
Places: Deptford
Date made: 1959
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Courtesy of the Lowry Estate
Measurements: Frame: 682 mm x 932 mm x 75 mm; Overall: 10.2 kg; Painting: 508 mm x 762 mm

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