Transport subjects in art fall into several categories. Firstly, as a fundamental human activity, transport has often featured in depictions of contemporary life across the centuries, from the carts and ferries of Dutch seventeenth-century landscapes, to the prominence of trains as symbols of modernity in Turner’s work, and in Impressionist and Victorian genre painting. The speed, noise and streamlined design of trains and cars had special significance for the Italian Futurists and their followers in the early twentieth century.
Secondly, painting has been used as a medium for accurately and systematically recording individual transport types, such as ships, locomotives and airplanes. Ship portraits were commonly made in ports in the nineteenth century for sale to the vessels’ owners and masters. More recently, collectors, enthusiasts and specialist transport and military museums have commissioned and collected images of current and historic locomotives, planes and other vehicles for personal and educational purposes.