Truth Coming Out of Her Well to Shame Mankind, 1896
Briton Rivière, Una and the Lion from The Faerie Queene, date unknown
As Wendy guides the pediatrician into her living room at the beginning of The Shining, they pass a painting of a horse galloping along train tracks towards an oncoming train. The painting is titled “Horse and Train” (1954) by Canadian artist Alex Colville.
A common interpretation of the painting is that it is intended to invoke feelings of helplessness and tension, and that the anxiety is heightened because we are not shown the outcome. It can only be assumed that the results will be disastrous if the subjects continue on their current course.
The choice of this image is certainly in alignment with the anxiety and tension Kubrick has already begun to invoke as the Torrance family prepares to move up to the Overlook Hotel for the winter.
Colville died in 2013 at the age of 92. After his passing, his son, Graham, remarked:
“I must say, I (felt) slight surprise when I saw Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining and I suddenly realized my father’s paintings were in the background in numerous scenes. They were implanted in that film as almost subliminal messages.“