Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps is an oil painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner in 1812. It depicts the historical story of Hannibal and his soldiers to cross the Maritime Alps on expedition to Rome. The painting is now held by the Tate Gallery.
Joseph Mallord William Turner was a British Romantic landscape painter, water-colorist and printmaker. The creation of the painting was inspired by JMW Turner's visit to Alps in 1802, where he was deeply impressed by the magnificent and soul-stirring scene. According to Roman historian Livy's record, Hannibal of Carthage conducted his army to cross the Alps in 218BC, blocked by the forces of nature and the local tribes. In the painting, a heavy black storm covers the sky, coming to fall on the soldiers below. An orange-yellow sun hangs behind the storm, attempting to break through the clouds. All the people and animals look dwarfed on the contrary to the storm and the sky.
First exhibited at the Royal Academy summer exhibition at Somerset House in 1812, the painting was accompanied with some lines from Turner’s unfinished poem Fallacies of Hope:
Craft, treachery, and fraud—Salassian force,
Hung on the fainting rear! Then Plunder seiz'd
The victor and the captive, --Saguntum's spoil,
Alike, became their prey, still the chief advanc'd,
Look'd on the sun with hope, --low, broad, and wan,
While the fierce archer of the downward year
Stains Italy's blanch'd barrier with storms.
In vain each pass, ensanguin'd deep with dead,
Or rocky fragments, wide destruction roll'd,
But the loud breeze sob'd, "Capua's joys beware!"
With the "Capua's joys beware!" Turner suggested the collapse of Hannibal against Italy. He saw the similarities between Hannibal and Napoleon. in 1802, when Turner paid a visit to Paris, he saw the painting Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David, which portraits Napoleon leading his army cross the Great St Bernard Pass. At the time when Turner was doing the painting of Snow Storm, Napoleon was then attacking Russia. Maybe the epigram of the poem and the storm in the painting, to some extent, imply or indicate the breakdown of Carthage's ambition, and Napoleon's failure to dominate French.